Digital Lipstick

In all the hype around (digital) citizenship, (digital) learning, (digital) marketing, (digital) this, and (digital) that, have we considered whether we're simply applying (digital) lipstick to everything under the sun, yet not fundamentally changing anything? To refer to Vaasu Gavarasana, are we placing lipstick on a legacy pig?

In other words, what does "going digital" mean? It's a phrase in common parlance, yet it feels so superficial. People utilise the phrase to show that they're 'with it,' that they're 'in,' but, invite them to share how they're going digital, and listen carefully.

For instance, if your school has a legacy system (all schools do...), and suddenly there is an app on top of that, is that truly 'going digital?' Or is it just doing the same work with different window dressing? It's akin to stating that you've got a 1:1 (iPad, laptop, etc) programme, yet any visitor to any classroom would see students doing the same exercises as before, just on a computer instead of with pencil and paper. One of my personal favourites: "we have a learning management system." Look at how it is used. If teachers are required to post homework and/or a syllabus there, and share the odd announcement, what do we have? Lipstick on a legacy pig.

However, if that 1:1 programme is used for well-crafted, teacher-generated formative assessments, and the teacher has access to those results more or less instantly, then s/he can enhance the learning experience with minimal delay. Or, if students utilise the devices to source, analyse, synthesise, and create something (recombinatorial knowledge production) in a way that requires serious cognitive demand, then there is a difference.

Going digital isn't merely a technical task. It's a cultural task.

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