Why are traditional classrooms slow to move towards open content curriculum and other technologies?

I work with lots of school districts but wondering for those who see value in new technologies and ideas, open content and more, why do you believe districts and schools move so slowly in such a time of transformational change around their students?

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My though is that there is no real incentive for them to ... schools are basically an educational monopoly for most communities ... and in those cases the old rule "If I don't have to do it I wont" rule applies... and right now the "new technologies" just are not on the radar screen compared to "getting kids to pass the sate assessments".
Christina,

"Be not the first to adopt a new fashion, nor the last to cast aside the old."

What is "open content"? How long has it been around? What students does it work best with? How do students feel about it? Parents? Administrators? Principals? What new resources are needed to adopt Open Content? What existing resources will still be useful? Where will the money come from for the new resources? What evidence is there for the long term results of adapting Open Content?
I recognize the term open content is so broad and new, but I also witness classrooms that haven't changed in 30 years and students are dropping out in huge numbers with boredom and lack of innovation, especially in the inner cities. So the question is really why we have become so reluctant, compared to other industries, to investigate new ideas and new paradigms of learning for kids, especially when the world outside the classroom is rapidly transforming their way of interacting, and engaging their interest...just a question...
Christina,

I find it hard to believe that you could observe that a classroom "has not changed in 30 years". Many of the inner city students are dropping out because of the "innovation" last handed down from on high - NCLB. Those who do not see themselves as likely to pass the tests are dropping out. Boredome is only an issue for the quick learners who are being dragged through incessent test prep, and that is only a ten year old initiative, not 30 years ago.

Bear in mind that the only one who would be bored in a class that hasn't changed in 30 years would be the teacher. To students, it is always a new class, a new experience, even if it is the same experience enjoyed or eschewed by their parents.

BTW, is there a reason that Open Content is too broad and too new for you to explain what it is and what students can benefit from it?
Boredom has existed for decades, but no disagreement that AYP, NCLB, IEP's, etc. etc. have hampered the ability of teachers and educators to move past a system that has calcified in many communities. Working with schools systems like Detroit, LA, NY where close to half the kids don't get a diploma suggest that for many it is not a "new class, a new experience" that engages them. I think RIch's point that if I don't have to change, there is no incentive to change is more what I have observed. Open content is not too hard to explain since I am involved with technology daily but I'm more concerned as to what others believe causes this lack of motivation to try something new. As the famous Einstein quote says, definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results...we need some different results as the data suggest in many schools.
Boredom is older than just decade, it goes back to the initiation of leisure time within a civilization.

If you are defining "open content" as the inclusion of technology in the classroom, then I have even more questions about what it is.

Have you been working in Detroit, LA and NY? In what capacity? While I have no contacts in LA, I do have in Detroit and NYC. In those areas, innovation is happening, but you have to know where to look for it. Detroit is in a harsh financial climate right now, so adding new technology and providing training for teachers may not be available. LA may also be suffering from the same problem. NYC is not so impacted.

To give you an idea where I'm coming from, my students were using the Internet back in 1990, corresponding with other special needs students in NYC and LA both.

There is absolutely no guarantee that adding technology and other bells and whistles will induce students to stay in school if they see no future in it. A lack of jobs available to inner city youths who graduate from high school is a major issue in today's economy.

Out of curiousity, how many classrooms in these cities did you see for yourself 30 years ago?

There is nothing more discouraging to those who are striving to improve education for all students than to hear someone bantying about unprovable statements.
Hi, Indigo,

Yeah, it seems like another person making stupid statements about classrooms needs their's kicked. I seriously doubt Christina would know if a classroom changed in the past 30 years or not. I doubt she could find any research that supports her contention that large numbers of drop outs are due to "boredom" caused by "30 year staying the same classrooms". In short, she erected a strawman, and I could not resist the temptation to knock it down.

I asked several times what "open content" meant, who it was intended for, how, where does it work, and all the usual questions, but was told the subject was too broad to define.

According to your source, "open content" is a "wiki". As such it is not a "curriculum", but is a learning activity or project - something done to show the learning that has taken place - not a compilation of learning objectives and standards.

Yes, it is frustrating when one of the students points out that the teacher has his/her facts wrong, is using incorrect grammer, or is otherwise spattering on the students. It is no fun being the teacher embarassed by the student who points out the emperor is wearing no clothes. But the task falls to someone, and why not a retired teacher who has actually been involved in education for more than thirty years, twenty of them in the classroom.

Isn't it better to have a colleague point out your foibles before the president of the PTA catches you?

Oh, and the curriculum is not decided on the classroom level ... but by state legislatures, district admins and others who tend to impose the curriculum on the classroom. What needs to be done is to coordinate these new technologies with the existing curricula in the various states so that teacher can implement it. Also, be sure to make the technology and all needed resources available to the classroom. Do that, and then if it isn't widely adopted, come back and complain about those backwards-looking teachers!
Indigo,

I think those who ask questions should be a bit more cautious about declaring that classrooms "haven't changed in 30 years" or that former systems were "failures". Those who make such contentions are the "bullies" here, not those who swat them down. Those who want to advocate what is new and untried should not be so quick to insult those who have picking carefully among the many "new and untried" theories that always populate the educational landscape.

As for licensing through MIT and Princeton, suppose I would rather work under the leadership of another university, such as UVA under whose wings the first state-wide teacher Internet was hatched in the 90's. The notion of licensing content seems like the same tiger that bedevils us with the use of textbooks written by publishers --- fine, but limited in scope and always out of date.
Indigo,

I took a quick look at Creative Commons was was rather off-put by the call for donations. I was unable to quickly find out what their "goal" was, or how the money was to be spent. Perhaps I didn't look at it enough. But, it seemed to be making an exclusive "club" our of "true believers".

Just as there are always those who yearn for the days of yore, there are those who are strong advocates for change for the sake of change.

I am inclined to believe that those who preface a loaded quetsion with insults to those in the topical field are more deserving of the lbel of "bully" than those who point out that these unjust charges are just so much hot air. I think you are labeling the wrong person as a "bully".
Indigo,

I read that much of their goal and found it insipid. Sharing goes on all the time when teacher collaborate whether in their school or in university classes. There is no real need for a "license" to share your work. I have been "sharing" my work online for more than a decade and find no reason whatsoever to attach a "license" to it. Nor, do I find sites that claim a "license".

I have visited the site a second time, and still could not find a purpose for donations. Furthermore, when I used the "search" on the Creative Commons page, I was given the exact same output as if I had used my usual search engine. The Wikipedia entry was at the top as if often is when I do searches. There were no entries that suggested they were "licensed" by Creative Commons.

I suspect that Creative Commons is providing a big nothing.

You, indigo, are long on insulting others, but then want to cry when you are stung back. Grow up!
I think that many people, particularly parents and admins, have a fear of the internet. It is somewhat understandable when considering the dangers too. Additionally learning all of these new technologies takes time that a lot of them aren't willing to take right now as well. It'd be difficult for them to endorse these things without knowing fully what is involved with them.
Christina,

The reason why classrooms are slow to adapt technology is because of a lack of knowledge. Most educators have no idea what is out there (and I don't blame them for not knowing, there is an overwhelming amount of stuff and nobody to teach it). Because many educators don't understand all the types of technology out there, most shut it out of the classroom until they know it won't hurt the students (for better or for worse).

You also have to realize the types of people you deal with. How many influential admins in the districts you observe are under the age of 50? How about under the age of 40? Have they been in education their entire professional career? How much technology experience do you think they have? If you asked them about implementing this great learning based educational tool, what do you think their gut reaction is going to be?

I know not all schools are like this....but too many of them are.

What I find facinating about the constant struggle between tech and schools, is the irony of it all. We no longer live in a society of strong labor unions and working one job for 40 years (which most teachers and admins are used to). We live in a society that constantly changes; that if your job is getting outsourced, it's time to learn a different job. We are living in a teachers dream; a society that constantly has to learn. Teachers are more relevant now than any other time in history.

So take a page from Henry David.....If you want to see technological change in schools you have to get creative. Use good judgement and you'll be surprised how far a little civil disobedience will get you.

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