Monday, April 05, 2004

Is IT a mean or an end?

Business Process Reengineering theories tell us to consider technology as a tool that enables an organizational change and not as a goal to reach. The rationale behind this is quite simple: if technology is your goal, your focus stays on technology. If, on the other hand, your goal is to better business processes, your focus stays on business processes. In IT projects, people often forget what are the real goals, which are not related to technology most of the time. That leads many projects to failure.

IT projects are however very effective at identifying what are the non-technical issues to address because they force us to look at the way we do things. Humans have that unique capability to stop thinking about how they operate when they get good enough at it. IT projects disrupt this “comfort zone” and force us to start thinking again, sometimes painfully.

Ismael Peña, quoting Mónica G. Luque, illustrates this phenomenon in education. E-learning is forcing us to think about fundamentals such as: How do we learn? Why? What is knowledge? Who owns it? Should we try to capture it?

In my opinion, this process is very healthy even if cumbersome. We are presently defining the foundation of a new paradigm in education. It is easy to get lost in concepts, words and acronyms these days. That is exactly why we need to keep our “focus” on one fundamental:

We are spending time and money in education in order to help people better their lives through the use and creation of knowledge.

Then, the thinking about improving education has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with people. Technology will however greatly help us realizing the new vision that will be built.

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