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Dismissiveness

Posted on: October 20, 2020

 
Do you know how old the iPad is? I thought I did, but I looked it up to be sure.

The first iPad was sold in 2010, so that makes it ten years-old. And so is a memory that I am about to share.

Shortly after the iPad came out, I sought to start a research project as the head of a university centre. But I first had to write a proposal to procure several of these new items.

I was not the only one who thought of this and faculty had to present our ideas not to a research review committee first but to an IT committee. Yes, it was university administration and bureaucracy at its best.

So another head of department and I jumped through these hoops so that we could research how to best deploy iPads. But we had the odds stacked against us.

A three-person IT committee made yes-no decisions and comprised of two IT folks and one academic. All three took their jobs to say no seriously because two members did not do any research and all three were not educators.

If that was not bad enough, my colleague started his presentation by calling the then new iPad “just a toy”. He even looked my way, referenced my position as head of a centre for e-learning, and followed up with, “I am sure Ashley will agree with me”.

I did not, but I said nothing. I was flabbergasted that a presenter would seem to shoot his own proposal down by asking a university to buy toys just to play with.

But he was actually being strategic because he knew the committee better than I did. He knew that they did not take the iPad seriously. I chose not to play the same game and neither of us got what we needed.

Back then I was appalled by the dismissive attitudes of decision makers and faculty of potentially powerful edtech. Such thinking had softened somewhat in the last decade, but it has morphed into another squishy form.

The dismissive attitude towards edtech is how it is still deployed as an afterthought in curriculum or used as a babysitting tool. The former is about how various technologies are used largely after major exams are over. The latter is about how technology is relegated to a distracting reward instead of a powerful learning tool.

The newer dismissiveness is worse than the old one. The dismissiveness of the past was passive aggressive and tended to stand in the way of access to technology. The dismissiveness now actively stands in the way of progressive teaching and meaningful learning once technology is in the hands of teachers and learners.

3 Responses to "Dismissiveness"

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