I didn't attend the conference "Campus Technology 2007: Roadmap to IT Leadership" but I was able to take a look at the proceedings online. There are also audio recordings provided by MediaSite from some of this more popular sessions.

With the start of the new school year only a few weeks old, I have already attended 5 meetings where the term "roadmap" came up in reference to having some guide to where a group was headed this year.

Some quick Googling found 1,950,000 results for roadmap education and 7,020,000 for roadmap technology so there's lots of roadmapping going on. There are companies that seem to focus on roadmaps of one sort or another. One such company gives this definition:

In effect, a technology roadmap identifies alternate technology "roads" for meeting certain performance objectives. A single path may be selected and a plan developed. If there is high uncertainty or risk, then multiple paths may be selected and pursued concurrently. The roadmap identifies precise objectives and helps focus resources on the critical technologies that are needed to meet those objectives.

There are companies that do product roadmaps too. Most don't even look like maps to a road.

All of this has me thinking about why we crave these roadmaps in education.

I love maps. I actually collect them. I'm on vacation this week and tomorrow I'll head home with my roadmaps beside me. I know where I'm headed, but I like having the maps. They are reassuring. But, of course, they are flawed because they are out of date when they are printed.

I could have gotten my Prius with navigation, but I didn't. I'm not sure exactly why. Well, there is the cost, but I think it also has something to do with my love of maps. GPS is the enemy of maps, right?

Google maps are cool, but not so up to date. (The high school I work with was under construction in 2005, opened in 2006 and still appears as a vacant lot on Google maps despite the 2007 copyright on the page.)

I think what educators, especially administrators, really want is not a roadmap. They want GPS. They want an ever-evolving, always-updating guide to where to go. They want the roadside attractions to change and the newest and best routes to appear. Alternate routes like social networking & podcasts look good, but they run off the edge of the map. Where will they lead?

It's possible that we are better off in education with roadmaps. A big picture, an overview. Keep your highlighters nearby to mark the roads and possibilities. When the new edition comes out, hang on to the old one. It's a nice record of where you were and how you got there.


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