Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

Locations of visitors to this page

My latest book:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Fan Page on Facebook

EdTech Update





Define "stupid" 

An article in yesterday's paper was about a study that set out to define "stupid." ("How to act less stupid, according to psychologists" Washington Post, October 19, 2105) Three types were indentified:

Confident ignorance "when a person's self-perceived ability to do something far outweighs that person's actual ability to do it, and it's associated with the highest level of stupidity.:

Lack of control "when someone does something because they have, on some level, lost their ability to do otherwise"

Absentmindedness — lack of practicality "scenario, in which someone does something that's clearly irrational, but for a reason that could be one of two things: they either weren't paying attention or simply weren't aware of something."

I've written about stupidity before:

Stupid is not my favorite word. It sounds mean and harsh and ugly. But after reading that according to Newsweek that 25% of employees visit porn sites from work, and that the adult video industry claims hits on porn sites are highest during the work day*, it was truly the only term that seems to fit this sort of human behavior. I don't have any overwhelming objections to pornography per se. But perusing it at work? That's stupid.

I use stupid under fairly constrained conditions. To me, a stupid act has a degree of willfulness about it and is serious. Making an error once is ignorance; making the same mistake multiple times is stupidity. Unfortunately, I see stupid acts and beliefs related to technology in schools all the time.

And listed seven stupid mistakes teachers make with technology. Maybe it is time to revisit them. See the original post for a full description.

  1. Not backing up data. (or storing it in the cloud automatically)
  2. Treating a school computer like a home computer.
  3. Not supervising computer-using students.
  4. Thinking online communication is ever private. (Especially anything communicated in social networks.)
  5. Believing that one's teaching style need not change to take full advantage of technology.
  6. Ignoring the intrinsic interest of tech use in today's kids. Kids like technology. (And the access to information of personal interest it provides.)
  7. Thinking technology will go away in schools.

Any to add from this 2008 list?

Oh, not to be too harsh on teachers, I also recognize Seven Brilliant Things Teachers Do With Technology.



Infrastructure and educational technology

The ignored secret behind successful organizations (and nations) is infrastructure. Not the content of what's happening, but the things that allow that content to turn into something productive. Seth Godin

In his recent post on infrastructure, Godin lists Transportation, Expectation, Education, and Civility as elements of a workplace that allow things to get done and that culture and infrastructure overlap. I agree, but as a technology director I take a bit more pragmatic view of infrastructure. In fact 90% of what my department does can be considered infrastructure - and in some tech departments it may be 100%.

School tech infrastructure, of course, includes networks and staff computers and firewalls and all that stuff that happens in the background expensively but invisibly. It includes administrative systems and professional development. I could argue that until a students themselves actually do something productive using technology, it's all infrastructure.

I could argue that even student tech use is "infrastructure" since learning is mission, not technology use. The technology is a means to an end.

A slide I like to use:


"Does technology improve student learning?" is the wrong question.

The question should be, "Does technology support the practices that improve student learning?"

To me this argues that technology (unless one is learning "technology skills") is always infrastructure. But that doesn't mean it is not important, even critical to student success. As Godin continues:

Here's something that's unavoidably true: Investing in infrastructure always pays off. Always. Not just most of the time, but every single time. Sometimes the payoff takes longer than we'd like, sometimes there may be more efficient ways to get the same result, but every time we spend time and money on the four things, we're surprised at how much of a difference it makes.

It's also worth noting that for organizations and countries, infrastructure investments are most effective when they are centralized and consistent. Bootstrapping is a great concept, but it works best when we're in an environment that encourages it.



When 1 is better than 2

It's a common complaint: "The computers on the mobile cart are so old that I have stopped using them."

I've always thought one of the biggest impediments to teachers, especially reluctant ones, to using technology is its seemingly unreliable nature. Nobody has the time to prepare two lessons - one for when the technology works and one for when it doesn't. Especially when one may already have four or five preps.

Like not weeding our libraries, not discarding equipment, whether we have the budget to replace it or not, does our programs harm.

Carry a few obsolecent computers to the recycling bin today.