I have been listening to an EdReach podcast each day during my commute, learn more in a previous post. (Edtech: Just a Tool in the Classroom). This week, I had the opportunity to listen to another great podcast from the EdReach Network. I became inspired when Molly Schroeder @followmolly, who was interviewed on Flipped Learning with Troy Cockrum @tcockrum, discussed the idea of teaching in beta. It has been ringing in my ears ever since. I can't stop thinking about it!
First, what does "beta" mean? When new tech tools become available online, they are often offered in beta. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a beta is a "nearly complete prototype of a product". In other words, a not quite finished product. Often, these tools are ever changing. A perfect example is Google. It is always changing!
Molly contends that is how teachers should think about their teaching. Ever changing. Their lessons should be tweaked, upgraded, and the most important part...put in the graveyard if the lesson just isn't working anymore. This idea got me thinking.
I think that some teachers are reticent to embrace tech in the classroom because they think of it as "just one more thing". They add it onto of all their lessons and then feel overwhelmed because they just can't let anything go. Or, maybe, they aren't aware that they can use tech to substitute or change a lesson, and then let the paper pencil part, or the packet that they used to use go, or let the students choose how they are going to show their learning. Molly suggests that we should not be afraid to try something new, and if it fails, to use that failure as a learning for the next time. To prototype lessons, to change them as they need to be change and to put the lessons that don't work anymore in the lesson graveyard.
Slate Magazine created a Google Graveyard for all the beta products that did not have as much success as they had wanted. If Google ins't afraid to put a tool in the graveyard, after all that time and energy has been spent, then why can't teachers have a lesson graveyard too? Change is exhilarating and thinking of teaching in beta might put a spring in your step. It sure has for me!