Posted by Stephen Johnson
Saturday, September 19, 2015
"Antifragility" was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile. To best explain the idea, we need to discuss fragility and robustness.
Think of an egg. You drop it on the ground, and it looks like this:
That’s fragility. Introduce a little force or instability, and destruction soon follows. Fragility should be avoided at all costs: fragile governments, fragile investments, fragile jobs… the list goes on.
What does fragility look like in education? Intervention just for the sake of intervention. Unsustainable 1:1 deployments. Rigid adherence to curriculum. Lack of training. Implementation of (big) ‘Systems’. Teachers isolated in classrooms. Spending money on programs, training, and technology that isn’t helpful. Unneeded hierarchy and bureaucracy. A narrow understanding of how to increase student learning.
Think of a bowling ball. You drop it on a tile kitchen floor, and it looks like this:
That’s robustness. Introduce a little force or instability, and the object, person, organization, isn’t affected. Obviously, this is more ideal than fragility; it’s where the bumper sticker "Tough times go away; tough people don’t" comes into play.
What does robustness look like in education? A program that can keep functioning with a lack of funds. Lesson plans that are effective year to year. A 1:1 deployment the district can maintain. A well-rounded understanding of how students learn. A district that is financially stable. Quick reaction to unforeseen events.
Do you remember Hydra? When you cut off one of its heads, two more sprout back in its place, like this:
That’s antifragility. Introduce a little force or instability, and the object, person, organization, etc. becomes stronger.
What does antifragility look like in education? It’s a 1:1 deployment where the devices are used in new and interesting ways when the WiFi isn't working. It involves teachers who think quickly on their feet and provide engaging lesson plans, even in the midst of all the challenges schools face on a daily basis. It’s principals who implement amazing programs, activities, and training sessions on shoestring budgets. It’s districts who thrive in times of financial hardship. It’s students who enjoy fixing technology in their classrooms and view broken devices as exciting learning challenges. It’s a district or school who, like Hydra, becomes stronger, smarter, and more experienced during times when other districts and schools crumble.
Enter ubermix, which provides over 60 free applications pre-installed. This means students can continue working even if WiFi connectivity is lost. Ubermix allows for greater customization than Windows computers, Chromebooks, and iPads. There's no spyware or malware. Students and parents can download ubermix and use it on devices at home. It provides the ability to quickly recover from problems and restore the system to a default state. Updates are easy and not intrusive; in other words, students won't be forced to restart computers in the middle of a project because of an update. Oh yes--and ubermix isfree. So there's no fee for licenses or management. All you need to pay for is the device.
All school and district leaders want their organizations to be antifragile or robust. Choosing a fragile device and operating system for students is a surefire way to create frustration and negatively affect student learning. With the antifragile paradigm in mind, ubermix is a wise choice for every school and district. Even in the midst of instability--be it WiFi issues, lack of funds, or teachers who are inexperienced with technology--ubermix thrives.