Home > Uncategorized > Hiring out “Milkshake Mistakes”

Hiring out “Milkshake Mistakes”

The Washington Post has an intriguing article posted today regarding college admissions that got my thinking connected to a post by Rob Jacobs over at Education Innovation. The article in the post is detailing how colleges are struggling to distinguish talent amongst the thousands of applications they are receiving. A money-quote:

“We felt that students who managed to come to campus were not reflective of the diversity of our applicant pool,” said Maria Laskaris, dean of admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth College. via The Washington Post

The article goes on to detail the pitfalls of the “to interview or not” conundrum and what kind of technologies (Skype, webcams, etc.) might be used to this end. This brought me to Rob’s post and a book I, and it seems technology enthusiasts and educators everywhere, have been reading – Clay Shirkey’s “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age”.
Rob does an excellent job of summing up what Shirkey dubs “The Milkshake Mistake.” The problem occurred when McDonald’s researchers, working to increase milkshake sales, were surprised to find that milkshakes were being purchased in the early morning contrary to their expectations. Shirkey goes on to point out how the customers were simply hiring out the milkshake to perform a needed service, regardless if it was contrary to its expected use. Rob’s post connects this to education:

You “hired” the technology to help students consume. They “hired” it to help them produce. You hired the technology to help students connect. They “hired” it to comment and critique.

The question over what we’re hiring technology to do in education is somehow both salient and elusive. Shirkey does provide a key quote in a later chapter:

The logic of digital media, on the other hand, allows the people formerly known as the audience to create value for one another every day.

When using technology in education, are teachers committing a “Milkshake Mistake?” How are the expectations in the use of technology being communicated in relation to adding value? If the prevailing progression of test well, do well in school, get into a good university now involves an interview process that is designed to have prospects demonstrate skills – how are the Common Core Standards or test-based teacher accountability systems preparing students for this possible future? All I can think of is this quote:
So what future action should be taken? One thing I’m thinking about is teaching my students about Bloom’s Taxonomy as a foundation piece for the school year. If we understand what we value and how we add value, maybe we can avoid some Milkshake Mistakes.
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