When I wrote about the Boiling Frog EdTech Metaphor post, I felt compelled to ask the following question to my PLN members on Twitter: What are some pitfalls and mistakes EdTech trainers make when evangelizing technology to our wide spectrum of teachers? This post is not intended to tell people what to do because every situation is quite unique. Rather I wanted to make aware of what fellow edtech colleagues think about why it is difficult to reach some of our reluctant teachers. Thanks to all who contributed below. Please leave a comment here or mention @socratech and I will gladly add your thoughts to this growing list.
- @Oh_the_Places Mistakes – not following up one on one; not knowing the tech level of ur teachers
- @Oh_the_Places Thinking like a teacher not a techie. How easy will the tech be to learn and use. Specific ex of how to integrate w curriculum
- @EdTechSandyK Also badmouthing or blaming the technical folks when something doesn’t work, is blocked, etc. Not being team players.
- @EdTechSandyK Making teachers feel guilty if they aren’t already using tech or new tool. Should show possibilities and benefits instead.
- @edtechsteve the biggest mistake trainers make is forgetting the realities of classroom teaching.
- @jgmac1106 Last mistake 4 now:short-term vision. Using outside consultants 4 whole staff instead of 4 building capacity among tchr ldrs
- @jgmac1106 Another coomon mistake. Not differentiating learning 4 tchrs. some need tool intro, next cool tools, next changing curriculum
- @jasontbedell Also, start by showing them that it can work with their students without being too difficult, not that it does a neat trick.
- @jasontbedell Don’t try to sound smart. Teachers get intimidated easily and their eyes glaze over. Go at their pace, even if it means crawling.
- @jgmac1106 biggest prblm is starting with the tools and not content or change. Its look at this fancy widget instead of learning #edtech
- @megbg76 assuming basic skills are known to all. ie “opening a new window” does not mean what it sounds like
- @MrKeenan Assuming everyone has an interest in adding tech to their practice is a big one.
- @franze98 good points, i find it difficult to gage audience understanding of concepts. i also find teachers to b bad students when w/ peers
- @mswanson Nothing other than watching there eyes roll in the back of their head or just the confused look.
Blog Post: Technology – It’s About the Teachers, Not the Tools by Oh_the_Places
Wikipedia describes the boiling frog story based on “the premise that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.”
Lately, I have been on a whirlwind tour preaching about educational technologies. During this chaos, I began to embrace the boiling frog metaphor whenever I evangelize about educational technology and how it can transform education. I certainly fall victim to living in my Twitter PLN bubble, where it is comfortable and easy to talk about how integrating technology can change student learning. However, when I speak, train, and give professional development seminars to my non-Twittering teachers, I sometimes run into the boiling frog syndrome (BFS). I am learning quickly to ease on my preaching, and focus on simple specific objectives that will ease my teachers into embracing technology infusion. One of my common BFS mistakes is when I sometimes catch myself speaking in absolutes. Moreover, I also overload them with information and overwhelm teachers with technologies that is beyond their realm of comfort. Unfortunately, there are those who simply rebuke technologies, and BFS is almost inevitable in those situations.
Evangelizing EdTech is a tricky game with our wide spectrum of teachers. It is fair to say we need to differentiate when we train teachers with technology. Although it can be difficult at times, moving forward, modeling your work and staying persistent will ultimately keep that frog in the edtech pot. No matter how slow the simmer…
What has been your boiling frog moments when talking about educational technologies?
I have been teaching about stock market investing as a major unit in my financial literacy course. It has sparked many ideas from my students as they are now looking at the world from a new perspective. My eighth graders are now looking at traffic as an opportunity to see how many cars are Toyota versus Honda. They are looking at what bags people are carrying around the mall. Some are doing research on MySpace to determine what is trending in the youth market. Trying to maintain the enthusiasm and momentum for my students, I wanted to integrate a technology component that will showcase all their research.
After researching several websites, Wall Street Survivor was the choice to use for my class. Wall Street Survivor allows you to create a private group for your class. I wanted to use the program to setup a fantasy stock trading group for our students to authentically explore investing. The website allows you to buy and sell stocks in real time and actually ranks your portfolio to everyone else in the group. It is a fun and engaging tool that keeps my students motivated learning more about stocks. I even added some of our staff members to join the game. The tool enhanced my lessons and provided my students real world experiences in investing. They even claim to pay teachers who use it, but yet heard back from them about that.
Yesterday, I gave a professional development session on how to tweet at conferences? I spent most of the session focusing on the “how” and did a poor job on explaining the “why” behind Tweeting. As a reflective teacher, I wanted to follow up my session by providing a list of reasons why a teacher would want to tweet at conferences. To illustrate my point about Twitter, I asked the question this morning on my feed and I was fortunate to receive feedback from many PLN members. Here is a compilation of their posts. Thank you to all who contributed to the “reason” list.
- @jasontbedell A Twitter backchannel can help influence the way that a conference progresses, for better or worse.
- @slopez1 To help keep notes, ideas or online resources all in one place #edtech #edchat that is why I tweet at conferences
- @CoachB0066 to share ideas/thoughts w others attndng, also some presenters will use a hashtag to receive immediate feedback #edchat
- @megbg76 discuss and share ideas with others present as well as those not present. It broadens the experience, leads to deeper synthesis
- @SimpleK12 Off top of head: 1.) share w/ peers 2.) continue to build PLN 3.) connecting w/ more ppl once u see who else is tweeting
- @SimpleK12 also when teaching students we ask them to do things over and in different ways. Repeating info in a tweet is a learning tool
- @SimpleK12 we just did that fron a conference…think you will get inspiration from our blog regarding the conference: www.IHeartEdTech.com
- @Oh_The_Places A chance for real time reflection and discussion w attendees that is not possible during conference presentation #edtech #edchat
- @rstoup To teach others.
- @bjnichols Tweeting at a conf. allows you 2 connect, share thoughts, ask questions in real time. 21st cent. learning is anytime, anywhere.
- @teachntech00 to get the word out! it allows you to share the ideas with a wide audience! #edchat #edtech
- @mom2preteens Yesterday I wanted 2 tweet @ a wrkshop bcuz my PLN knew more than presnter & I had ?s.#edtech
- @mom2preteens I tweeted 1 ques from my phone & had answer in less than minute. #edtech
- @novemberMonster Because it’s less rude than shouting across the room. Also, one way info is so 1990s.
- @cpoole27 by tweeting during a conference allows you to get input from people globally as opossed to confines of the conf. alone
- @jgmac1106 It provides a channel for those fellow staff unable to attend. Acts as a metacognitive tool during presentations #edtech
- @kunami10 tweeting during your conference gives you an online place to store your notes. No clunky notebooks or lost papers!
- @cnansen Why should people Tweet when they are at a conference? Here’s why - http://tinypaste.com/d0f50
- @msmithpds to share with me what you are learning!
- @Russauntry so I can follow in England! #edchat
To supplement what everyone else wrote above, here are my reasons to Tweet at a conference.
- Differentiate learning
- Archive all your thoughts for future use
- Connect with teachers you probably would never talk to at the conference. (maybe you will after connecting through Twitter)
- Reflect on your sessions immediately after it is over rather than waiting to discuss at a later date.
- Connect with others in the world that share your thoughts and reflections.
- Our students are learning through social networking.
- Share valuable resources in real time
- Everyone has a voice. Imagine if everyone asked questions during a session, the session would never end. Why end the session at the time allotted. It allows continuation of the session for as long as needed.
- Everyone has a voice part 2. Not everyone will talk during sessions. Lets give them another avenue to communicate their thoughts.
- There are many 3rd party apps that allow surveys, graphs, and polls for more feedback.
- You can start the pre-conference chatter.
- In my opinion, you will see majority of professional development move to this environment in the next 5 years.
We are now six months into our Google Apps Education migration and it has been quite successful in providing our staff communication and collaborative tools to work more effectively. I have seen teachers collaborate on Google Docs, and I have seen Google Calendar used to reserve rooms at our school. Google Sites has probably been the most productive tool as staff members use it to share resources with the rest of the staff. The wiki has grown to almost a hundred pages worth of information. The amount of data put in the Google Apps Education cloud has been exciting to experience since we first integrated it at our site.
This is when the nightmare situation hit me…
What if Google Apps decided to change their policy and start charging for their services? I know it is probably highly unlikely that Google would do such a thing, but what if Google decided they need to start charging schools. It would be the perfect example of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” scenario. Google bates you in with free services and schools create a massive knowledge database in their cloud. The data uploaded to Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Sites becomes so large that it would be nearly impossible to backup the information to another service or internal server. Google then turns around and says, “sorry folks, but due to financial crisis, we need to start charging to use our tools.” I could just see IT Directors fainting in agony. What a nightmare scenario for schools?
I just wrapped up my semester for 8th grade engineering, and I would have to say it has been my most successful project-based learning class thus far. Thanks to huge donations from Qualcomm and Motorola, I was able to integrate hands-on science projects using electricity, K’NEX modeling, and bridge building kits. The students were engaged in cooperative design projects that included many technology tools on the web. I wanted to share the different tools we used in all my engineering and technology classes.
Phun – The Phun physics program lets students design objects in 2D and lets gravity act upon the objects when an action button is clicked. The students designed a simple machines track on the program and it was quite the challenge for many of my students. They worked relentlessly redesigning and improving their drawings. My eighth graders learned quickly that sometimes drawings cannot account for the many issues of real gravity applications. Without a doubt, my students learned Newton’s Laws of Motion authentically. Who needs books?
PhET Interactive Simulations – The University of Colorado at Boulder developed interactive electricity simulators that enabled my students to design their own circuits. We primarily used the circuit construction kit which allows you to design any circuits using resistors, batteries, and capacitors. It even has built in ammeters and voltmeters to verify Ohm’s Law. This simple and practical simulator is perfect way to demonstrate electricity before actually building real circuits.
Scratch – This open source object-oriented program language is a perfect introduction to teach mathematical applications of video game design. My students used this software to learn how to program using visual scripts. The community allows you to download scripts from other projects which allowed my students to tinker with code. It was a great example of learning from each other. We also used the following website for “how to” examples: http://learnscratch.org/
Google Sketchup – AutoCad 3D design capabilities for free using Google Sketchup. Mystudents used it for their research design project for engineering. They were required to draw the original invention and redesign it using Sketchup. My favorite had to be the drawing of the future train station depot.
FloorPlanner – The students learned how to use an architects ruler for my engineering class. The students learned how to scale using the ruler. For example, a 3/4 inch scale can equal 100 feet using the ruler. Their first project was to use the ruler to design a house floor plan with specific dimensions. The students used design floor planning website Floorplanner to professionally design their own house. Try it out, it is the real deal.
Creately – This online diagramming and design tool is a powerful engineering tool. It takes the power of Microsoft Visio and made it free and collaborative. My high school interns are currently using it to design a network diagram for the new PC Lab they are building. It has all the icons for network design such as routers, servers, and wires. It takes me back to my old days of network design when I worked for Extreme Networks. There are other collaborative tools similar to Creately such as Dabbleboard, Thinkature, and Twiddla.
Other websites that provided interactive simulations that were used to teach engineering concepts:
- Edheads – Excellent simple machines and design activities.
- Blender – 3D Content Creation Suite
- StarLogo TNG – Modeling and simulation software.
- Gamestar Mechanic – Video game design made simple.
- Alice – Computer programming for kids in a 3D environment.
- Kodu Game Lab – Visual programming for video game design.
- XNA – Community all about game design.
- Digispired – Exploring game design.
- GeoGebra – Multi-platform dynamic mathematics software.
- TeachEngineering – Free resources for K12 Engineering lessons.
- Virtual Frog Dissection – Good practice before real frog dissections.
- eGFI Dream Up the Future – ASEE sponsored website with valuable resources.
- Score Interactive Science – Collection of science simulations
- Nano for Kids – Nanotechnology simulations
- Engineering K12 Center – Engineering resources for K12
To keep the productive EdTech and IT discussion going, I decided to create a Twitter hashtag devoted to technologists who work in the Information Technology Department at educational institutions. As brilliant as the #edchat discussion are, I thought a separate hashtag would serve beneficial to those focused on topics and questions related to school technology infrastructures. There is a growing need for clear communication between EdTech and IT, and I hope we can bridge the two departments with the #EduIT hashtag.
Sample Topics for #EduIT
- Sharing technology plans
- Resources regarding CIPA
- Cloud computing
- Next generation school technology infrastructures
- Technical questions
First I want to state that I have no degree in educational technology. However, I have a bachelors in electrical engineering, and have spent seven years working in the information technology industry. Moreover, I have been in teaching (Masters in Education) for five years and have been director of educational technology for three. My experiences in both education and technology has brought me to the conclusion that we need a new hybrid degree for the next generation EdTech specialist.
As schools become more integrated with tablets, interactive whiteboards, and smartphones, building a school infrastructure that supports this environment will be key to success. Furthermore, as schools become more dependent on web applications and cloud computing, network demands will be pushing for more security, collaboration and accessibility.
The new EdTech specialist will not only need to have their basic understanding of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK), but will also need to have a fundamental understanding of information technologies. And within information technology studies, their needs to be a fundamental understanding of the engineering design process. According to wikipedia, the engineering design process is:
“the process of servicing a system, component or process to meet desired deeds. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences,mathematics, and engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective. Among the fundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing, and evaluation.”
By studying the engineering design process, our next generation EdTech specialist will have fundamental understanding of system design. If the end goal is transform schools by having a fully integrated educational technology solution, how can an EdTech specialist not be included in the design process of technology infrastructures. I often find that IT departments do not include EdTech in decisions regarding infrastructure because of the perceived lack of technical expertise. But if the end goal is to service teachers and students, it is absolutely critical that the EdTech specialist be part of the design process.
The common argument I frequently here is that EdTech specialists are not technical enough, while IT specialists have no clue what teachers need. My hopes is to eliminate this issue by creating a new hybrid degree in EdTech/IT. I call it EdIT (Education Information Technology). This program would enhance the already strong EdTech community by giving EdTech specialists an opportunity to study engineering and IT fundamentals. It will prove beneficial if this new specialist will have understanding of security, programming, and network design systems. Armed with this knowledge, who wouldn’t want this new EdIT specialist to lead our future school technology infrastructures.
- Cloud computing has eliminated many in house IT needs and made IT operations web based.
- EdTech understands the teacher and classroom needs.
- EdTech has experience in both education and technology.
- District budget costs – merge the two departments.
- Traditional enterprise IT environment doesn’t fit open collaborative school environments.
- Security concerns are not as stringent as corporate sectors.
- Network requirements are not as comprehensive as corporate sectors.
- IT departments should model 21st century learning environments.
- Web 2.0 applications are simple, effective and affordable to use.
- Finding a computer operations technician to fix everyday hardware issues is cheap.
- No need to maintain own servers anymore.
- Many teachers can run their own technology environments with proper training.
It has dawned on me that schools require a new bread of Information Technology than the traditional enterprise network. From my experience working and selling to corporate IT, the closed hierarchy lend itself to politics of control, security and money. I have tremendous respect for IT departments who have to manage secure enterprise networks spanning across the globe. However, when I look at schools, especially K12 communities, the secure enterprise network model doesn’t seem to fit the nature of a school. Obviously, we need to protect student information systems that house confidential data about our populations, but overall I feel instructional institutions need to embrace an open & collaborative environment focused on integrating technology into the classrooms.
This is where I feel the traditional IT Director may not fit the bill for school technology infrastructures. Simply put: “Whoever is in charge of educational technology should be in charge of the direction of information technology at the school.” I still believe there needs to be IT ground workers who take care of day to day technology support, but the Director of IT should be an Education Technologist who has classroom experience to bring to the table. We are at a point in education where technology is a paradigm shifting tool in our classrooms, and we need experts in both education and technology to lead the way.
I would like to coin the new department as EdIT (Education Information Technology). The EdIT director has to envision a school infrastructure that fosters 21st century skills and invests in products & training that lends itself to empowering teachers to use technology in the classroom. Why keep the two departments separate? EdTech should be driving the decisions on infrastructure, such as moving to a Google Apps environment for communication and collaboration. Not only does moving towards a cloud environment lend itself for better collaboration between teachers, it will also save money and time from an IT perspective. When we moved to this environment at our site, we saved plenty of money and time working on tech support issues while also creating an environment that supported effective real time communication.
The EdIT director will spend more time working with teachers and administrators to create the ideal integrated technology classroom environment. This will lend itself to focusing on products such as Doc Cams, SMARTboards, and Netbooks for classroom integration. It will also focus on collaborative web environments focused on wikis, microblogging, and other social media apps. The cloud computing sector has evolved to a point where traditional IT processes & job duties are no longer needed, and less time is needed to support our users. Moreover, the web 2.0 environment has evolved to make it easier for non-tech savvy users to integrate technology with little tech support. The role of EdIT director would focus primarily on professional development training with focus on technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).
As our schools are evolving and continually to embrace educational technologies into the classroom, it only makes sense that Educational Technology should merge with Information Technology. But it will only work if the EdTech people make the decisions in the direction of all technology being put into the school.