Tomorrow is already here

Few television shows have had the cultural impact of Star Trek and this is especially evident in the one-liners that have become part of the English language. There are definitely some takeaways from Star Trek that we can reflect on, both as teachers and leaders in an age of digital reform.

Captain Kirk’s opening narration ‘To boldly go where no man has gone before’ had a sense of futuristic nonsense to it. Well, we live in that place now. Wearable technology, handheld computers, electronic navigation, location settings, voice activated computers and augmented reality are part of our current landscape. Our role as teachers is more important than ever before. We are the navigators and guides for students in a world of tomorrow that seems to have arrived early!

The catalyst for transformation is how teachers harness and leverage technology to do what we do better. It’s about creating a world where students are afforded the opportunities to use real-world tools, to do real-world work. One saying that has been making the rounds is: Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator. This instils the importance of pedagogy first, technology second. Technology is a form of magnifying glass. It can make great teaching better and poor teaching worse.

One of the biggest challenges I face in professional development sessions is trying to get them to put the horse after the cart. Once teachers realise that ‘resistance is futile’ when it comes to integrating technology into their teaching practice, the next thought is ‘What technology will I use? Wrong question. The right question is ‘I need to do XYZ, so how can technology help me achieve XYZ more effectively?’

 The technical wizardry that featured in the original Star Trek did not exist at that time. So who came up with these ideas? The writers. They saw a need and then invented something to meet it. They had the initial concepts and were able to develop the simulated ideas to solve their problems. Now we are at a luxurious place in the human timeline where almost anything can be located for our classes if we can think of it. Decide on the need first and then find the technology to support it. In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard ‘Make it so!’

That being said, we have all been in the place of poor Scotty where we would like to bang our heads against the desk and scream ‘I’m givin’ her all she’s got Captain!