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EdTech Update





How is this better than digital?

Alice Keeler at Teacher Tech asks "How is this Better Than Paper (Oct 5, 2017) and shared the following flowchart:

Personally, I would change the question to "how is this better than digital?"

By default, I would argue that digital is better because:


  • It doesn't kills trees
  • It doesn't add to toner and paper bill
  • It doesn't create waste
  • It doesn't get lost when stored in the cloud
  • It's easier to read
  • It is the way all of us will increasingly do our work


Keeler's important argument is that using digital rather than paper should also be pedagogicaly superior, and if it isn't, why bother. And she lists lots of ways tech-savvy teachers can create better experiences for their students. Right on!

But I would argue that the burden of proof should be on the paper-bound educators, not the digital.


My job as a teacher

Thinking a great deal about this lately. I don't get a lot of chances to do direct instruction anymore, but this month I helped teach three "digital parenting" classes for our community education department and I am preparing some sessions for the North Dakota Library Association conference coming up soon.

While it's relatively easy to amass and repeat facts, statistics, and stories, the challenge for educators who wish to make a difference is turning that information into fuel that propels those who engage to keep learning past the time they spend with the instructor.

In parenting classes, I would not, if I could, provide answers to questions like:

  • How much screen time should my child have?
  • Is it OK for children to have Internet access in their bedrooms?
  • Is there a way for kids to know if those they meet online are who they say they are?
  • Is it wrong to pirate movies, songs, art?
  • How do you keep your child from being cyberbullied?
  • How does one establish a positive digital footprint?

I hope the parents who attended my classes came away believing these are important enough questions that they need to keep looking for their own answers to them.

Why do your students feel compelled to answer questions on their own, for themselves - finding personal, meaningful answers?


BFTP: Core beliefs of extraordinary bosses

It's been so long since I've worked for a bad boss that I tend not to think a lot about what makes someone a good person for whom to work.  I do hear plenty of complaints from family members about their own supervisors, so bad bosses do exist somewhere.

My guess is that most of us have learned how to boss other people by experiencing being bossed ourselves - for good or for ill. (The term "boss" has such a perjorative slant - couldn't we use supervisor, manager, team leader???.)

Anyway this online article caught my eye: 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses by Geoffrey James, Inc. April 23, 2012. While James is writing about the business world, these beliefs seem especially applicable to school library and technology departments. James's words are in bold; mine aren't.

Extraordinary bosses believe:

  1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield. Library and technology leaders understand this. Our departments support teachers, administrators, and students. Our own success can only be measured by how successful we make others. We need to be fighting for those we serve, not against other departments.
  2. A company is a community, not a machine. Again our success is dependent on the relationships we build with others. Whether it is with our knowledgeable and skilled technicians or our teaching staff or administrators in other departments, our codependency makes us a community. And while we would like to operate sometimes with machine-like rules for everyone, education seems to be a place where effectiveness lies in making exceptions.
  3. Management is service, not control. This is tough for many of us technology folks whose primary goals are security, adequacy, and reliablity. The more control we have over our applications, networks, and equipment, the better we seem to meet these goals. But we too often lose sight that security, adequacy, and reliability are simply a means to providing good service - and too much control can be counterproductive if the technology is not easy-to-use, convenient, and available.
  4. My employees are my peers, not my children. There are two ways of looking at treating people like children. Of course, treating anyone "like a child" is demeaning - even to children. But as more and more of the people who work for me are of my own adult children's ages, I often think about how I would like my sons and daughters treated by their bosses. I hope they have supervisors who help them grow, support their learning, enable their advancement, encourage them to tackle ever bigger responsibilities, and to find ways to make a difference. How much does a good mentor really differ from a good parent?
  5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear. For those of us in libraries and educational technology, this one is pretty easy. The vision has to be no more complex than remembering what we do is always centered on helping kids learn. Period. As much as I would like to put the fear of god into a couple of people around here now and then, I have no clue about how to be scary.
  6. Change equals growth, not pain. Change has been constant and unavoidable in both libraries and technology for twenty years. If the new is painful to you and the members of your department instead of it being exciting, you are all a bunch of masochists and have stayed in the field too long. Go work at Wal-mart.
  7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation. Good managers understand that making decisions makes a job interesting and fulfilling. All technologies ought to help people solve problems and make good decisions and then carry them out. (Librarians, this is why information literacy skills are the most important things that technology can help teach!) If a computer can do your job - it should.
  8. Work should be fun, not mere toil. If the boss doesn't look forward to coming to work everyday (and I mean every day), how one expect others in the department to look forward to heading to the office? 

Core beliefs or attributes you appreciate in extraordinary bosses?

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Original post August 15, 2012