What if…

One question I encounter more than any other when dealing with technology is “what if…?”  This question is followed by any number of words.  “What if…it breaks…I get a virus…I can’t undo it…I lose it…”  Almost every time the question pops up it is followed by fear.  So, I wanted to take a few minutes and explore how others approach this question.

Brothers Brett & David Kopf began Remind.com (FREE text messaging service) a few years ago and they are now one of the most popular and widely used educational technology tools in the world.  So, what if…technology allowed teachers to communicate with parents and students in a way never before seen?  I know that their vision was questioned along the way.  Fear of sending texts, of communicating directly with students is a big fear for many teachers…at least it was.  Instead of focusing on what could happen wrong, they focused on what could be possible with the power of a text message.  They saw the “what if” as a new frontier and an exciting new arena for education. Now 1 in 5 teachers in the U.S. use Remind.

The father-son team of Dick & Rick Hoyt have run over 1,000 races in their lifetime.  This alone is a huge feat…except Rick cannot walk.  Dick and his wife Judy were told to put their son Rick into an institution because he was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy.  Rick was never going to walk or communicate in a traditional way.  What if…the love of a parent could overcome the limitations of the human body and the prejudice of the human mind?  Dick & Rick began running races in 1977 and finished their last Boston Marathon together in 2014.  They never let the fear of the unknown or physical limitations hinder their inspirational spirit.

In 1977, the Apple II was released as the first successful personal computer…and the rest was history.  Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak founded a company that would change the way we live today.  What if…two people could make the future a reality?  I am sure that the first people who saw a TV set, a cassette tape deck and a keyboard attached to chips in Steve’s garage thought he and Wozniak were insane.  In fact, I am willing to bet there were a few times they wanted to give up as well.  However, Jobs tended to “Think Different.”

We live in a day and age where the phrase “what if” has to end with words like “possibility,” “change,” “inspiration,” and “innovation.”  Technology is not to be feared, horded, or guarded under lock and key.  It should permeate, grow, and connect.  Technology should be organic and we need to embrace the idea that mistakes will happen.  Steve Jobs once said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

What if…we allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes while pursuing innovation and inspiration?  What if…we seek help from our students?  What if…we worry less about control and more about collaboration?  What if…


One thought on “What if…

  1. Good thoughts Ben. I know I personally struggle with the kids having access to their phones throughout the school day. I guess I worry about all the distraction they can bring to our classroom environments…texting, music, potential for cheating, etc. In general, I see almost an addiction that kids seem to have with their phones. Given the tremendous power that phones seem to have over students (and adults), I can see the logic in trying to tap into that power and make this technology an asset in the classroom. In my role, I’m not quite sure how to balance this with my students.


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