Saturday, 28 June 2014

ISTE2014 - No Country for an Old Fashioned Educator?

Can you imagine being a "Unconnected" educator who decides to get connected on social media this week and opens a Twitter account? Can you picture the scene:

You're an unconnected educator and some of your connected educators have been talking in the staff room about some of the things they've been able to do with technology in class this year and/or the tools they're going to explore over the summer..

"Wow" Mr/Miss Unconnected thinks "Some of this Technology seems to ACTUALLY work and have value in the classroom... I'm going to have to look into this," so included 'exploring EdTech' on their list of summer PD.

It's the end of June and schools out time for some relaxation, a vacation... and summer PD. Right whats this Twitter thing, where's that cheat sheet I was given?

1) Open account. Done
2) Follow friends. Done
3) Lurk and Learn.... ARGH!

What just happened?

ISTE14 Just Happened!
Could a techno-phobic educator who decides to take the brave step of opening a Twitter account pick a worse week? I was on Twitter for quite a while before I found out about the ISTE hashtag and it was frantic! So I'm not sure if Twitterland would be a good country to visit this week for educators looking to come out of their Twitter shell.

Tom Whitby wrote a great post during Connected Educator Month called "Patience for the Unconnected" and observers that;

"Connected educators may be the worst advocates for getting other educators to connect" 

Maybe you've been reasonably dismissive of technology in education (there's plenty of evidence to support this opinion), but perhaps a compelling presentation like Donald Clark's Three Tech Trends that could Change Learning Forever changed your mind. So where would you start exploring EdTech? And how could not feel anything but overwhelmed with all the choice and info.

The most popular EdTech news providers and web resources are well laid out and well tagged, just as Educators blogs are well informative and well written, and the Connected Educators are more than happy to provide help and advice to get colleagues connected.

Information Overload  
So the EdTech community is helpful and friendly but are people who are already apprehensive and outside their comfort zone going to admit to feeling overwhelmed?

Or are they not more likely to feel discouraged and think to themselves "Whoa this is not for me... I'm clearly not cut out for this tech stuff!" Any exploration of what technology is capable of in their classroom is cut short. But how would anyone NOT feel overwhelmed?

EdSurge have almost 293 subcategories relating to EdTech, with the most written about being: For Students, Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Useful For Teachers, MOOCs, Reports, EdTech Community, Useful For Entrepreneurs, Thought Leadership, For Teachers

I've used EdSurge in a number of recent posts, this is because I am exploring the site to assess the merit of a few ideas... One of which is to see if there might be any way to organise resources and present ideas in a way that might encourage the "Unconnected" to explore EdTech further.

Just a quick scan through the EdTech capabilities and there is an array of choices:

Digital StrategiesBYOD, Class Management and Classroom Technologies, ePortfolio, Flipped Classroom, Games and Gamification, Makerspaces

Internet Technologies: Cloud Computing, The Internet of Things, Real-Time Machine Translation
Semantic Applications, Syndication Tools

Learning Technologies: Badges / Microcredits, Learning Analytics, Mobile Learning, MOOCs,
Online Learning, Open Content, Open Licensing, Personal Learning Environments, Virtual and Remote Laboratories

Social Media Technologies: Collaborative Environments, Collective Intelligence, Crowdsourcing, Digital Identity, Social Networks, Tacit Intelligence

Visualization Technologies: 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, Information Visualization, Modeling Software, Visual Data Analysis, Volumetric and Holographic Displays

Enabling Technologies: Affective Computing, Cellular Networks, Electrovibration, Flexible Displays,
Geolocation, Location-Based Services, Machine Learning, Mobile Broadband, Natural User Interfaces, Near Field Communication, Next Generation Batteries, Open Hardware, Speech-to-Speech Translation, Statistical Machine Translation, Virtual Assistants, Wireless Power

Then, once you've identified an idea to explore there will be numerous EdTech companies to vet and decide on a potential partner with the right solution for your needs?!

All this innovation is great, but what a technological minefield? Looking into any of this involves an investment of time and money, both of which are in short supply in education.

Great Tech... Poor Uptake
The more I look at the effective roll out of any EdTech products the more I see that it's not an issue of whether your Technology is great or not... There's no denying that an Ipad can be a fantastic tool to facilitate teaching and learning. So why has it not been rolled out everywhere?

Please don't mistake this as any suggestion that we should have a one-size-fits all approach... after all an Ipad is extremely versatile. I think that a major reason why great tools don't get rolled out as quickly or as widely as they do is because the various stakeholders has not yet managed to "Cross the Chasm" from the enthusiasts and visionaries.

Geoffrey Moore's Technology Adoption Cycle 
How do we address this? My recommendation would be the same as I usually suggest in situations like this... Look for the bright spots. Maybe we should be looking to learn more from the schools that have made school wide transitions with initiatives like 1:1 classrooms, BYOD, using social media class etc... This would not be with a view to rolling out the tech that they use out... but to find out how they encouraged the skeptics and technophobes to explore this sprawling weird and wonderful world of EdTech.

If I were at #ISTE2014 this year I think that would be one of my missions... to seek out and learn from the 1:1 educators to discuss how they went about it. But alas, I'm #NotAtISTE so if you're a 1:1 educator why not cheer me up by leaving a comment below about the challenges you faced and how you addressed them.

Confused you will be! RT @RHNilsson The future of #EdTech infographic  @jimmy_daly … #feltag

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