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EdTech Update







Cranky person, Gary Stager, criticizes ISTE for not doing more to promote the OLPC project:

Since ISTE seeks to be the premiere educational technology advocacy group in the world, it seems curious they have done nothing whatsoerver to promote the efforts of One Laptop Per Child or the Give One, Get One promotion ending at the end of the year.

Why not take a minute to contact some of the folks listed here on the ISTE web site or its Board of Directors and ask them why the International Society for Technology in Education is silent on connecting the world's poorest children to the 21st Century?

My response left on Gary's blog:

Hi Gary,

I can't let this one slip by unchallenged.

While I am no longer an ISTE board member, I do know that during my tenure on the board, our organization invited Nicholas Negroponte to be a Keynote at NECC – one of the most visible live speaking opportunities there is in the global ed tech community – to talk about the OLPC initiative. NECC has also had full labs of the OLPC computers available for people to use in workshop settings. ISTE has actually done a tremendous amount through NECC to support this initiative.

May I ask you in return what you have done to work with ISTE on getting the word out? Or is your only role criticizing the work of others?


Somehow I don't think the world will be made a better place by writing snarky blog posts - no matter how many XOs are floating around.

Oh, I will agree with Gary about one thing. Please DO contact your ISTE board members and executive officers if there is an issue that concerns you. I've always been proud that ISTE is an organization that listens and responds to its members.

Cranky person Doug's XO that he got last year as a part of the Give One, Get One Program



When your job is on the line


I just posted this to our state library/tech Ning:

Hi folks,

I hate to sound like the voice of gloom and doom, but I am very worried about the economic news over the past week. With the state of Minnesota expecting a record budget deficit of over 5 billion dollars, it looks highly, highly unlikely that schools will receive any funding increases for next year, if not during the next biennium. And since inflation (health insurance, heating, SpEd services, etc,) continues to rise, budget cuts are in store for most districts.

OK, people, NOW is the time to start strategizing the ways to minimize the impact of budget reductions on your library/tech programs. Once administration makes its recommendations to the school board, it will be waaaaay too late to do much.

I've listed some ideas about what you can do in the document "When Your Job is on the Line".

Don't rely on MEMO or AASL to save your program! This is something only you can do.

Share any strategies you have for minimizing the impact of budget cuts here.


With 41 of the 50 U.S. states* projecting budget deficits for next year and with the entire world suffering economic woes, I thought this might be of use to more than just us Gophers.

Blue Skunk readers, what will you be doing to survive the budget axe?

* Our neighbors in North Dakota have a surplus. Now how did that happen?


Seven stupid mistakes teachers make with technology

stupid (adjective): given to unintelligent decisions or acts

Stupid is as stupid does. Forrest Gump

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.

These would be my nominees for the most stupid things** a teacher can do related to technology...

1. Not backing up data. "You mean having two copies of my files on the hard drive doesn't count as a backup?" The first time a teacher loses his/her precious data my heart breaks. The second time, well, stupidity ought cause some suffering.

2. Treating a school computer like a home computer. Teachers who use a school computer to run a business, edit their kid's wedding videos, or send tasteless jokes to half of North America (including that fundamentalist English teacher down the hall) are being stupid. Teachers who take their computers home and let their kids hack on them are being stupid. Teachers who don't own a personal computer for personal business deserve to get into well-deserved trouble.

3. Not supervising computer-using students. It is really stupid to believe Internet filters will keep kids out of trouble on the Internet. For so many reasons. Even the slow kids who can't get around the school's filter, can still exploit that 10% of porn sites the filter won't catch if they choose to do so. They can still send cyberbullying e-mail - maybe even using your email address. Or they can just plain waste time.

4. Thinking online communication is ever private. Eventually everyone sends an embarrassing personal message to a listserv. I've heard of some tech directors who get their jollies reading salacious inter-staff e-mails. You school e-mails can be requested and must be produced if germane to any federal lawsuits. Even e-mails deleted from your computer still sit on servers somewhere - often for a very loooong time. Think you wiped out your browsing history? Don't bet that that is the only set of tracks you've left that show where you've been surfing. Your Facebook page will be looked at by the school board chair and your superintendent and principal know who the author of that "anonymous" blog is. Not assuming everyone can see what you send and do online is stupid.

5. Believing that one's teaching style need not change to take full advantage of technology. Using technology to simply add sounds and pictures to lectures is stupid. Smart technology use is about changing the roles of teacher and student. The computer-using student can now be the content expert; the teacher becomes the process expert asking questions like - where did you get that information, how do you know it's accurate; why is it important, how can you let others know what you discovered, and how can you tell if you did a good job? The world has changed and it is rank stupidity not to recognize it and change as well.

6. Ignoring the intrinsic interest of tech use in today's kids. Kids like technology. Not using it as a hook to motivate and interest them in their education is stupid.

7. Thinking technology will go away in schools. The expectation tha "This too shall pass" has worked for a lot of educational practices and theories. Madeline Hunter, Outcomes-Based Education, whole language, and yes, some day, NCLB all had their day in the sun before being pushed aside by the next silver bullet. (I think that metaphor was a bit confused. Sorry.) But it is stupid to think technology will go away in education. It isn't going away in banking, medicine, business, science, agriculture - anywhere else in society. Thinking "this too shall pass" about technology is pretty stupid.

That was fun. What would make YOUR list of the top stupid mistakes you've seen teachers make with technology?

Oh, I am not above making stupid mistakes as well. Maybe this posting was one of them...

* And you wondered what those strange noises were coming from the next cubicle.
** While surfing for porn at work might qualify as THE stupidist mistake a teacher could make with technology, those CIPA-required filters that only the kids know how to get around are keeping this act off my teachers' stupid list. And here I bet you thought CIPA was about protecting kids.