Deaf Ears

I went to a conference two weeks ago, and I am still sitting on my “what I learned at (insert conference name here)” post.  It’s not that I didn’t take anything away that is worth squawking about, nor that I haven’t the time to write about it, because, let’s face it, so few of us do anymore.  It’s rather that I’ve been trying to find the way to say it without ruffling the feathers of those who put on conferences all over.

There shouldn’t be any educational technology conferences anymore.

Oh great.  Now it’s out there.  There goes any chance I ever had at presenting at ISTE (or NECC, or whatever it’s next iteration will be).

While I truly love the conference I am speaking of, being that the first time I attended was one of the biggest eye-opening events of my career a few years back, something has changed around the world of education and educational conferences.   What’s changed is not the technology–that’s a given.  What’s changed is that we now ask different questions than we did before. The more “Ed Tech” conferences I attend, the  more I see people there who don’t need to be there.  If we are talking about real change in education, the kind that makes nervous people of those with big jobs in big companies that depend on education as a market, than we’ve got to get different people here.

Instead of the word technology or educational technology being mentioned anywhere in the nomenclature of the conference, why don’t we focus on student learning.

If you can’t show me (preferably with live students) how what you are talking about is credible, gets kids excited to learn, and allows them to share their learning with whomever wants to be a part of it, I don’t know if I am interested.

I know this has been said before, and many times here in this space, but it’s not teaching with technology, or learning with technology, or educational technology.  It’s just teaching, just learning, and just education.  It’s here, it’s your computer connected to the world, and it makes your job easier.  And if  the educational technologist in your district would just let you know about these conferences, it might just become very clear to you.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that these conferences need to recognize the fact that we moved beyond just inviting directors of technology, technology coordinators, or higher-level administrators, but rather classroom teachers, students, and even community stakeholders.


7 thoughts on “Deaf Ears

  1. Very good post. I have attended workshops and conferences with classroom teachers. Their complaint is that too much is presented too fast, with too many buzzwords and concepts they don’t know. So they leave feeling inadequate. Also, these events usually have squads of problem solvers. No classroom teacher that I know of has these people available, so if they have a tech problem during a lesson, goodbye technology, they have to keep their focus on their students. Dr. Clifford Stoll saw this 15 years ago.

  2. Education is different from schooling. Education encompasses rapidly evolving inexpensive technology. Schooling is big business whose goal is to maintain status quo.

  3. @Dave,

    Thanks for reading, and for putting an idea in my head. What an interesting thought about having groups of people available to problem solve for attendees. Most of the time you would not even have to pay them–the cloud kind of does this already. Bachchannels at conferences act this way for me, but for teachers new to some of that, having actual people step away from their laptops to talk about the logistics, explain the jargon, and provide real-life examples of how to do what the presenter is talking about may change things.

  4. Patrick:

    This is a good conversation and one that does not happen often enough. I hope I described the classroom teacher’s situation accurately. There has been plenty of help at the workshops I’ve been at, which actually seems to raise the fear factor for classroom teachers. She knows she’s not going to have these people during the time she’s in front of her students. Social networks are useful before and after a lesson, but not during, which is her focus. Time and standardized tests are both showstoppers for using technology. Our district has been pushing our classroom teachers to put technology into their lessons, at the same time they have cut way back on the amount of tech support, which was never that good anyway. The results of the standardized tests show up in the newspaper, and no principal wants to be on the failed list. So if they are rational, they don’t mess with their top performing teachers.

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