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EdTech Update





Yes, I will unfriend you if you are a Trump supporter

The following graphic showed up on my Facebook feed a few days ago:

In a normal election, I could buy into this. An election based on ideas and values and different paths to a better future for our country.

But sadly, this is not a normal election.

I have always defined politics as values put into action. And I myself cannot be categorized as a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, libertarian or whatever the opposite of liberaraian might be. Happily in the past I have felt I could vote for the major candidate of either party and feel like I was voting for a decent human being.

But with Mr. Trump, this is not the case. (Yes, Hillary has some issues, too). This is a man who I would not leave alone in a room with my children or anyone else's. This is the school-yard bully. This is the kid who when he sees he is not winning, tips over the game board. This is a man who makes me feel embarrassed to be male. Embarrassed to be an American. If you support Trump, you are opposing every value I hold dear.

If you support Trump I will unfriend you on Facebook. I will unfriend you period.

This is not about politics. This is about what it means to be a decent human being.


BFTP: 22 dangerous statements for techs to make

I took librarians to task a while back about statements they often make that are dangerous for their careers. I'd forgotten I'd even written it until someone recently left a comment on the post. But it got me thinking.

Are there dangerous statements technology directors, technology integration specialists and technicians make that could be hazardous to our vocational health too? Have you caught yourself saying any of these little sound bites lately?

  1. It's not in the budget. (People hear: Your need is not important to me.)
  2. That's not my job. (People hear: Your idea is not worth trying.)
  3. It's against policy/CIPA/FERPA etc. (People hear: I will use the threat of illegality as an excuse not to do it.)
  4. It can't be done. (People hear: I don't know how to do it and I am too lazy to figure out how.)
  5. It'll cause security issues. (People hear: Security is more importance than your convenience and utilization.)
  6. It takes up too much bandwidth. (People hear: I don't want to deal with kids getting into YouTube or teachers using Pandora.)
  7. The kids/teachers would just abuse it. (People hear: Everyone but me is basically irresponsible.)
  8. It might break. (People hear: Everyone but me is untrustworthy.)
  9. It's so cool I'm sure we can find a use for it. (People hear: The technology is more important than the educational use.)
  10. I don't have the staff to support it. (People hear: Your need is not important to me.)
  11. I don't have time to do it. (People hear: Your need is not important to me.)
  12. We only support Windows (or Macs).  (People hear: You only support then platform you know best.)
  13. It's so easy no training is needed. (People hear: If you had any brains you could figure it out for yourself.)
  14. We can't give ____________ administrative rights. (People hear: Everyone but me is basically an idiot.)
  15. Teachers shouldn't use the equipment/the Internet for personal uses. (People hear: I think you are a slacker and need to be micromanaged.)
  16. Buy it. We'll figure out how to replace it in 5 years. (People hear: Having something new and shiny is more important than building a sustainable program.)
  17. It'll set a bad precedent. (People hear: Individuals are less important than procedures.)
  18. The kids will always know more than we do about it. (People hear: You are not as smart as a 5th grader.)
  19. Technology would solve all your problems if you learn how to use it. (People hear: Spend your time learning to use technology on the chance it might solve more problems than it creates.)
  20. You should be spending your own time learning this program. (People hear: Technology use is more important than your family, hobbies or other commitments.) 
  21. You can't bring your own technology to school to use on OUR networks. (People hear: Everyone but me is untrustworthy.)
  22. Silence. (People hear: Your request is so unimportant that it doesn't deserve a reply.)

I will be the first to admit I have said and probably will say again some of these statements. In fact, I've said them enough that I am sort of surprised I am still have a job or anybody who will still talk to me.

My goal for next year is to always answer a request with a "yes" and then discuss the how's and implications. But at least start with "yes."

Any other dangerous statements for technology people to utter?

Original post August 16, 2011


Making change work for you - still

Our state school library association, ITEM, held its annual conference this week. I haven't missed at least part of one of these since I came to the state in 1989. The venues change; the speakers change; the faces change; the latest and greatest tech, software and kiddie books change. But what has not changed is having both formal and informal discussions around the fate of the profession of school librarian.

This year was no exception. A continuing trend here in Minnesota seems to be that schools are replacing professional librarians with clerical staff and/or technology integtration specialists who do not need library/media licensure. Which makes a lot of people very nervous. And which might be creating a scarcity of professional school librarians since new people may be reluctant to enter a field they see as waning.

Throughout my career in librarianship, I have taken a somewhat different approach to this problem. Instead of asking "How do we convince the powers that be that we librarians are important?", I have been asking "What can and should we be doing as librarians that is important to the decision-makers in our schools?" Adopting this survival strategy, of course, means that the vital professional librarian of 2016 looks a good deal different from the vital professional librarian of 1979 - the year I graduated from library school.

One of my earliest columns called "Making change work for you" applied the concepts from a powerful book, Surviving Corporate Transition by William Bridges, to school librarianship. I wrote in 1995:

While Bridge’s audience and examples are from the business world, much of the theory he extols works just fine in schools. Bridges offers three valuable suggestions for keeping one’s job. 

1) Head for the edge. “The people who work along the interface between the organization and its external environment are the sources of all the information that is needed to survive in this rapidly changing world.”

Are you, as your building’s information expert, capitalizing on this important task? Do you read, filter and direct information to your patrons who not only use it, but become dependent upon it? As information moves from print to digital format, are you the “interface” to the Internet, to on-line card catalogs and databases, and to CD-Rom sources?

Are you the school’s emissary to other organizations in the community which also provide services to your “customers?” Do you facilitate use of other libraries in the community? Can you tap into the information services and professionals of local post-secondary institutions, government agencies, business, and health care organizations?

This advice - “head for the edge” - is so apt for our profession, I’ve chosen it as the name for this column. By going to the edge and peering over, I hope we’ll find some new ways to look at old ideas, some familiar ways to look new ideas, and begin to wonder and plan for what might be store for our profession!

2) Forget jobs and look for work that needs doing. “Security in turbulent times comes from doing something important for the organization, not from filling a long-standing position.”

The most successful media specialists I know listen to teachers’ and principals’ problems. Most teachers aren’t shy about sharing them. What in your building is important and may not be getting done? Interdisciplinary units? Staff development in technology? Care and circulation of equipment? Site-based council work? PTO chair? Building newsletter? Student council advising? Peer counseling? Computer network management?

I’ve always had an affinity for jobs no one else wanted, especially those my boss liked to pass off. I always hoped that if my job and someone else’s job were both on the line, my supervisor’s reasoning might go thus: “If I fire Johnson, I’ll have to find someone else to do all those nasty jobs he’s taken on. Otherwise, I might have to do them myself. Hmmm, let’s see who else I might axe instead…”

I would not be too narrow in my definition of a professional task either. It might be better to perform vital clerical or technical work, than an unnecessary “professional” duty.

3) Diversify your efforts into several areas of activity. “Like diversified investors, people with composite careers can balance a loss in one area with a gain in another. Consequently, they are not subject to the total disasters faced by people who have all their bets on one square.”

Some media people I know are removing their subject area teaching endorsement from their licenses. Now if you feel that if you can’t have a job as a media specialist, you’d rather not have a job in education at all, that’s the thing to do. But unless you have a real good feeling about that last lottery ticket you bought, be aware that the employment outlook in the “real world” is even worse than it is in education. I know. I knew somebody who worked in business once. 

The smart thing for those of us who still need to work to do is to add areas of endorsement. Coaching, ESL, middle school, administration, and reading certification all make one a “value-added” employee. In the same vein, a list of successfully completed projects, grants, or workshops show administrators that you are versatile, and will help you develop a “can do” reputation. If your media job is reduced or eliminated, there is a better chance of the school finding another place for you.

I am not sure one can "save" an entire profession. God knows, people in the library field far smarter and harder working that I am have been trying to do this for a very long time. What I do believe is that individuals can and must create and hold jobs in schools that have library values at their core.

But to do this you have to make change work for you, not against you.

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