Adaptability: In Learning and Life @sguditus #edtech

My colleague @CSE5 and I visited our local Barnes and Noble store, with whom we have had a relationship for years as a local book distributor and vendor for our school districts. The purpose of our meeting was to discuss Barnes & Noble's availability to help us purchase items for our innovation labs and makerspaces.

Our time together was fantastic, and the Barnes & Noble folks were incredibly enthusiastic and helpful. We met in the Nook Section in the middle of the store, previously a section of books. They offered to show us around their makerspace and game section, and I was shocked when we walked into what was previously the CD and DVD section: it had vanished.

I asked the Barnes & Noble folks about it, "What happened?!" I asked further: Was this your choice? Why did you decide to dump CDs and DVDs? Why pushed you to replace a huge square footage area in your store with something completely different than what was previously in the space?

In order to survive, Barnes & Noble chose to adapt. The economy and the world has evolved: Amazon has made it easier and cheaper to order books delivered to one's door, or just to read a book on the device in your hands; Spotify has made it easier and cheaper and more convenient to listen to music on-demand wherever you are in the world. Companies have not adapted, and it shows: Strawberries: gone. Borders: gone. Newbury Comics: hurting. Barnes & Noble, however, chose to ax their CDs and DVDs, realizing that if they adapted their business and their approach, they can survive and be prepared to meet consumers in the present and future. Barnes & Noble replaced their music section with makerspace items, gadgets, and my favorite sign, "The Future of Learning." Barnes & Noble is promoting the idea not just of "games" for kids, but games that teach students how to think critically and creatively via coding and problem-solving with both low- and high-tech.

The fact that @CSE5 and I were visiting Barnes & Noble to scout out tools to infuse innovation, creativity, resiliency and adaptability into our schools' classrooms and with our students was not lost on me. Here we were, in a store that was embodying the idea of adaptability: taking a risk by cutting a huge square footage of their store, in lieu of an unknown that was focused on helping to develop innovation and adaptability in kids.

In 1809, Charles Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Barnes & Noble is adapting, and surviving. It is our duty, it is our obligation as educators to develop the environment in which students learn how to innovate, how to be resilient, how to communicate and collaborate, and most importantly: learn how to adapt. It is their future that is hanging in the balance. We mustn't be stagnant or assume someone else will help our students learn to adapt - we must provide learning opportunities that challenge students to adapt, and we must adapt our own instructional techniques to stretch ourselves, model this for students, and always be growing and changing. It is, after all, their future for which we are preparing students - not our present.


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