Quotes and Comments about Progress in Ed.Tech- Everyone Has It Wrong

Am I getting ready to state that 100s if not 1000s of pundits are wrong, and I, a lone technology director working for an obscure school in Shanghai, am correct?


Proving my point will take time, more than a blog post, but I believe this post will at least force people to start asking questions. I am actually hoping those in Educational Leadership, who are not working in technology, will have more questions and comments than those working in technology. Saru mo ki kara ochiru.


I have seen no less than five quotes this week, with many “likes” associated, about people moving forward, moving at the speed of change, etc. Every quote and comment, and every post and opinion, all assume one thing- the chosen path is the correct path.

Think about it. Two people come to a fork in the road. The left side is normal. Paved. Two lane. The right side is different. It has a new type of surface and it includes a bicycle. The assumption is that the path on the right will allow someone to travel faster, and thus, succeed or achieve at a higher rate than the person on the left.

But no one ever stops to ask, where do these roads end? Or do they end? Do they just circle back onto one another? Do they cross? Can a traveler ever get off this path? Does one lead straight to Chernobyl?

If a person chooses the wrong road, it does not matter how fast they move down it, and their progress certainly has nothing to do with the person on the other road. The choice and the reason for that choice, are significantly more important then the speed.


We should not be relating education, learning, and forward-thinking to the concept of speed. Speed can destroy, at the same time it creates. In fact, the physical concept of speed does create vacuums, wind, and destructive forces. The speed of change is no different than the physical concept of speed. In fact, it could be much worse considering speed of change can leave people behind, and not just dust and objects.

Progress in learning, educational technology, and other areas that impact children should be measured in opportunity(or the inverse- opportunity cost). School leaders need to stop asking, “What new technology do we have?”, and the need to ask, “What new opportunities will this create for our students?”; or “In five years from now how will what you are doing help these students”?

Looking at technology, or any subject, as a NOW instead of as a LATER satisfies only curriculum benchmarks and paperwork. It is exciting and great for conferences and presentations as well. However, that outlook does not demonstrate a concern for the future knowledge children will need to create solutions from past experiences.

Creation VS Consumption

I have a slight disdain for App Culture. App Culture exists when students and teachers stop making and solving, and instead simply start buying Apps that short-cut the processes of making and solving. K-12 education should not be about polished ready to use and perfectly functional software. K-12 education should be the place where experiments and chaos lead entire groups of people towards new ideas, and where failure is expected.
Failure leads to Feedback.

More importantly, data and products created by students and teachers should be able to be used by students and teachers in the future, regardless of devices, software licensing, and subscriptions. Schools should also be able to access these artifacts as needed to show growth or even problems within the curriculum.

I personally have projects and data from the 1990’s that I can still use. Situations and problems are rarely new, they are simply in a different package. Believing all solutions are in the future, negates the need for studying the past. Human history has taught the world what happens when we fail to study the past, therefore we make a great effort to include history in all modern curricula.

Keeping the past alive and accessible should be a conscience endeavor of all institutions focused on learning. These endeavors cannot ignore data and digital artifacts, and therefore institutions must strive to set the bar higher for the technology that is allowed to play a core function within the classroom.

The priority should be on technology and environments that encourage creating, making, solving, reusing, and even breaking. There should be oversight to prevent the day-to-day life of a student from being consumed by pushing buttons that simply redistribute trivial content, and promote badges over authentic feedback.


Here is a video from 1983. This video features Seymour Paper who is the founder of constructionism. After watching this video, I am hoping most people will realize that the trends in education now are frightening. Ignore the polish and quality of the graphics. Focus on the process. Focus on the learning connections and augmented reality. Then ask yourself, when did education get away from this path, and why is everyone so happy about it?

Tony DePrato


You Don’t Have a Supercomputer in Your Pocket

I was listening to an older episode of This Week in Tech (TWIT), and one of the hosts said, and I am paraphrasing, “we are all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets.” Then I started hearing people imply this frequently. I have not blogged for over a month, but I have been traveling, and I found from Asia to Kentucky, people seem to be propagating this meme.

I am going to crush your world now and tell you, that in fact, you do not have a supercomputer in the shape of a smart phone in your pocket. As smart phones and app culture has increased, I have seen nothing but a decline in good software, and power users. I see people dependent on apps that have single and simple features, often riddled with ads. Since developers are all in on smart phones and low powered tablets, the potential for new and powerful software is fading.

How powerful is your smart phone? Well in 1987 it would be equivalent to powerful computer. So if you can time travel, you can go back in time and remove your smart phones CPU, and then use it in another computer to calculate stock predictions or weather patterns. Sure those calculations might take 2-3 months, but in 1987 people were more patient.  Notice I said the CPU, the rest of the phone would be useless.

If you buy a laptop for $300.00-$400.00 today in 2015, you can out process your phone and skip the time travel. You can write software for your phone as well, try writing software for your laptop on your phone.

Yes, smart phones are more social. They have cameras and sensors that allow them to be useful in some niche situations. If you need to quickly project and unsubstantiated opinion, without references or context, smart phones are amazing.

This whole meme is troubling, because it is obviously coming from industry. The meme is designed to keep people buying fairly expensive, yet low quality hardware, with an app purchasing culture built into the life span of the product. This meme reminds me of the digital natives meme. I hear this everyday, and it drives me crazy.

People need to stop saying children are digital natives, and start actually watching what they are accomplishing when they work; and when they work on a timeline. Trust me, children/students in 2015 still need structure and skills training. Just because they can play games on their devices, or use 15 apps to share photos, does not mean they understand how to use their technology to solve real problems in a timely manner. Nor does it mean they can takes 100s of points of data and construct an argument.

Schools need to start critically looking at all these memes, and they need to stop propagating memes that cannot be substantiated.  Educational Technology should be about creating. It should be a maker-culture with an emphasis on learning to filter garbage out of any equation .


If you truly believe today’s students are born to use technology without guidance or planning, then lobby to get rid of driving tests. They obviously grew-up with cars, and cars in 2015 are much easier to drive than cars from 1975.

Logic is logic. Digital Natives using Smart Phone Supercomputers = No Need for Driving Tests.

Tony DePrato