We’ve been spending a lot of time here at Behrman House, over the past year, preparing material for the Resource Libraries of the Online Learning Center. You can see them listed here. It has me thinking about the emerging digital world, how rich yet how confusing it can be. And how to make best use of it while not sacrificing the quality education we already provide our children.
The very presence of these new tools, sitting next to our old tried-and-true practices, create a trap—a trap if we fail to use the technology wisely. And the trap starts with a story.
When the film camera was invented, no one knew quite what to do with it, with this new technology. So what was the first response? Directors took cameras, put them at the back of theaters, and filmed the plays. We now call it “shooting the proscenium arch.” Rob Reid identified it in his book “Architects of the Web.” The proscenium arch, of course, is the curved frame at the top of a stage, and the filmmakers made sure it was in the camera’s view.
Why? Because the movie camera was new, and as we learn from many management theorists, usually the first step in technology usage is to automate existing processes. That’s what we can see. That’s what our imaginations—limited at the time—are initially capable of.
Over time, the filmmakers got better. They moved the camera around to achieve different angles. They added a 2nd camera, then a 3rd. And then they moved the action outdoors. There was no longer a proscenium arch.
We’re at an early stage in our digital adventure. We started with email. Then static websites. Now we’re moving beyond, to social media including blogs, twitter, pinterest, instagram, and a whole host of other tools. Intelligent interactivity isn’t far behind.
My question to my colleagues at Behrman House, and to all of us in the field, is: how can we push our imaginations? How can we use these technologies to their fullest? How can we make sure we move as quickly as possible beyond shooting the 21st century proscenium arch?