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EdTech Update





BFTP: You too can be a tech guru

Here is how I answer probably 95% of the tech "how-to" questions I receive...

Uh, Doug, how do I add a graphic to my signature file in GoogleMail?

  1. Type "Add graphic to signature file in GoogleMail" into the Google search engine box.
  2. Select one of the first few credible-looking hits.
  3. Find the process. Read the steps.
  4. Try the steps out on my own computer.
  5. Reply to the person asking the question as though the answer was my own hard won discovery.

If I started telling folks how to find their own answers, I'd lose my aura of omniscience!


Original post October 11, 2010


The good girls/good boys club

One of my favorite bloggers is Anthony VonBank over at Cloudcation. After a hiatus, he is now writing thoughtful posts on educational technology and school change, including his most recent, "This isn't the job I signed up for?"

In questioning why teachers resist change he speculates:

Perhaps it isn’t just stubbornness and perhaps it isn’t about how we are wired exactly that motivates teachers to resist change in schools, even when it’s clear that the changes would be beneficial to students. Certainly stubbornness, laziness, and foul attitudes may be at play, but I propose that sometimes it is about a teacher preserving the culture of the career they chose.


Now things are changing. In some cases they are changing quite swiftly. The emergence of 1:1 digital learning and standards-based instruction are just two examples of fundamental changes in the day-to-day job a teacher does. Teachers have had to evolve. I am on the front lines of this change, and often the stress and consternation these (and many other) changes bring good teachers. I struggled to fully understand this. After all, I wondered, did they expect to do the exact same job for 40 years?

I’ve found that is exactly what some expected.

I am sure job preservation is, as Anthony speculates, a factor in resistance to change. But I am suspicious there is another reason as well. I call it the good girls/boys club that often runs schools.

Many of our school leaders have been very well served by our traditional education system. Performing well academically, conforming to standards and norms, and even behaving well have allowed our current teaching staff and administration to obtain the degrees needed to get their current positions. (Myself included.)

So consciously or unconsciously, do we as humans protect and maintain systems that have personally served us well?

As my rather cynical (and still unpublished) article "The Illusion of Change" suggests:

... what impetus is there for innovation if the one in charge of change has done quite well under the current system? They don’t  pull superintendents, principals, or classroom teachers from the ranks of those whom the current education system failed! (Well, maybe a few tech directors, but they are different case.) College professors are the total masters the educational system –having risen to pinnacle of academia simply by being very, very good at “school.” And you expect them to change this perfect system that rewards the best - they themselves? Please.

The reason these  “leaders” have the ability, the position, the power to make change is that they have all have succeeded in some fashion in a traditional education model. And subliminal questions run through every decision they make - "Is this change going to screw up the system that has made it possible for me to hold my position?" "Why do that which might shake me from my current branch?"

They will therefore only initiate those changes that don't really change anything very much, that won't threaten their standing in their school or community. Risks are for fools, especially when taken for anyone outside their own genetic make up or social class. Both Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel were, after all, quite fictional.

As our populations become more diverse, as our technologies change, and as the demands placed on education grow, we in the good girls and boys club must be aware of how we may be protecting an outmoded system that serves an increasingly small slice of the population. Future educators, perhaps?


Think before you blog

Why I worry
  1. Teachers blog and don’t think about their audience and say things that show poor judgement.
  2. Teachers blog and use images that aren’t licensed for reuse and think it’s ok because they’ve used ‘Google Images’.
  3. Teachers blog and use images which aren’t referenced and think it’s ok because, well… it’s ok.
  4. Teachers blog and use images that they have taken in their schools which feature faces of children from their school.
  5. Teachers blog and don’t consider any of the things above. Mark Anderson, ICT Evanglist, May 30, 2015

From Blue Skunk post, Blogging and a Little Common Sense (January 2007):

Here are some things I try to keep in mind when I write for the Blue Skunk. I honestly don't want Johnson vs. Board of Education being studied in school law classes someday.

Write assuming your boss is reading. That's good (and common) advice as far as it goes. But I know my wife, my mother and my daughter all read The Blue Skunk now and then. I assume my co-workers read the blog, as might anyone for whom I might work for someday, either as a regular employee or a contractor. Somehow this doesn't really narrow the scope of what I want to write about, but it does force me to ask questions about language, taste, and approach. Every time I've wondered if I should put something of questionable taste in the blog and did, it's usually come back to bite me. A person can tell. Mostly.

Gripe globally; praise locally. I don't think anyone really fusses if you express your opinions about global warming, the Iraq War, or NCLB. But you will never catch me dissing a person who lives close enough that he could easily come by and TP my house. Nor would I say bad things about a person who I might then have to avoid at a conference. Even going negative, I try to make it about ideas, not people. I have to admit I am really lucky to be working in a school with people I genuinely think are pretty darned good and with whom I am proud to be associated. I don't agree with every decision made, but I know that the decision was made thoughtfully.

Write for edited publications. I've been writing professionally for almost 20 years and certainly on a continuous basis since I've been working for my current employer. A good deal of what I write is opinion and I've even written a several editorials for the state and local newspapers. My boss in the past has shared things I've written with the school board as a point of pride, I hope. Were the district now to react negatively to my blog, I believe it would have a difficult case showing that my writing impedes my employer's effectiveness or efficiency or otherwise disrupts the workplace, since it has not done so in the past. It would be a condemnation of a technology, not of a practice.

Write out of goodness. I have a difficult time believing that anything you write because you want to improve education, improve kids lives, or improve society will be counted against you. If you write out of negativity - to vent, to whine, to ridicule - yeah, you'll probably have problems. But I am guessing you were probably having problems at work before you started blogging if that is your blog content. In a workplace where dismissing someone for mediocre job performance or poor interpersonal skills is nearly impossible, supervisors are often looking for any legal means of firing people. If you are doing a good job at work, blog. If you aren't, don't blog.

It is our professional duty to share what works for us and ask for help when we are stymied. Blogs allow us to do both and it would be a crying damn shame if the advice of an overly cautious lawyer stopped this flow of information.

... rights are accompanied by responsibilities. Another thing usually must come along as well - courage. Be brave - blog.

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