Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Comment on Dangerously Irrelevant’s “Ed Tech Quarantine?”

By on June 19, 2008

Sometimes I get a mental check at how new to edublogging I am.  I just discovered Dangerously Irrelevant, can you believe it?  Anyway, I like the guy’s style.  So he just posted an interesting article titled, “Ed Tech Quarantine,” that wonders “whether we technology early adopters need a self-imposed moratorium on talking about new technology tools…”

I’ve been saying something like this for a while.  It is very important for those of us who have discovered the value of technology in education to be very careful in how we pitch our programs and in how we attempt adoption.  We’ve all seen eyes glaze over as we talk Twitter.  We’ve all seen teachers check their watches as we preach about interactive whiteboards.  

I have found, however, that there are ways to speak the language of these more traditional educators.  Keep talking in metaphor.  As I have said before, “Ed Tech is the new Home Ec and Shop,” and NOT teaching technology is preparing students only for OUR future, not THEIRS.

Technology awareness and literacy are not just elite, honors-bound classes anymore.  These are the blue-collar skills of our students’ generation.  So, while I agree with Dangerously Irrelevant’s musings of respect, I still know that we can’t drop the standard entirely.  (And by standard I mean the whole banner-flapping- astride-a-horse-in-an-Errol-Flynn-movie kind of thing.)

I commented on the post as follows:

I agree to a point.  It would benefit any pioneer to remember what it was like prior to their epiphany about using technology.  I remember the lost instructional time waiting for someone to just rewire my LCD projector.  I remember the feeling in the computer lab for the first time with students, unsure if I was in control and how to protect myself if every kid just up and went to an R-rated site.  

The fact is that teaching is hard, and while I and many of us have discovered and embraced the ease and success that technology brings to our classroom, I do not for a minute blame those not willing to take that leap of faith.

I find that the most effective leadership is in being available and pushing my agenda at other levels of the district.  For instance, I’m not going to hold my staff hostage at a faculty meeting trying to preach from my pulpit.  However, as of this year, my Speech & Debate team began a student written, performed, produced, and publicized podcasting network.  We were selected to present at CUE in Palm Springs, and we’ve gotten some great attention for our district. 

Cut to the present.  Today I have a meeting with my superintendent scheduled to discuss what I can do to help integrated tech curriculum to pitch a district-wide podcasting program.  The teachers find out about one’s successes and want in.  That’s how you bring them to the fold.  

I remember what it was like to be a Luddite.  And while I want to move my district forward, I need to do it with respect for those who may not share my philosophies as a pioneer.  

Our responsibility, however, is to the students.  And what we cannot do is allow those who won’t move forward to dictate whether we do move forward.  It can’t be an “if” we adopt technology issue, but with forward motion, I can accept the issue of “when.”

Keep pushing, but with respect from whence we came.

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  1. Mike Albert
    June 19, 2008

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    I agree with you on this one. Somewhat less than 1/3 of teachers will jump at the chance to incorporate new technology in the classroom, and somewhat less than 1/3 will resist using anything other than perhaps a DVD player (although they might secretly yearn for filmstrips).

    As “pioneers,” our job is to educate and, especially, support the more than 1/3 who will use ed. tech with help.

  2. Scott McLeod
    June 19, 2008

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    Thanks for the link, the kind words, and for extending the conversation!

    I agree with everything you said. It’s difficult to navigate moving forward and respecting what has occurred in the past…

  3. tweenteacher
    June 20, 2008

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    Thanks for the comment, Mike. Teachers also need to get over the feeling that we need to teach tech. Rather, we need to teach our content just using tech. Osmosis just might just work.

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