Reflect on how different this world is from 10 years ago - before smart phone / tablet technology. Or how different the world is from 20 years ago with the eruption of the World Wide Web; or 30 years ago with the personal (consumer) computer revolution. How we communicate, learn from and with each other, collaborate, research, shop, aggregate, curate, discern… almost everything is very different. We cannot expect to teach as we were taught.
Granted, there is considerable disparity between schools, school systems and segments of societies. Most classrooms, most days are not significantly different today than they were 40 years ago, especially with regard to what the students are doing. At educational conferences, we see great examples of modern learning activities, but there is that nagging feeling that this only represents a small group of students and often only for a week or two out of the entire year.
My essential question after attending the tech conferences is:
How do we enhance education in a systemic fashion, and sustainable fashion?
Earlier this year, a good friend and fellow ADE Lucy Gray published an About.com article: Tips for Educational Technology Coaches that provided some great suggestions about pursuing excellence as a Technology Leader in the local school.
For me this article triggered a question:
Do education policy makers recognize just how important a Technology Specialist, Technology Integrator, or Technology Innovation Coach is at the local school level?
In last week’s episode, Leo used one of those inflammatory types of expressions that cause a gut reaction: REDLINING the INTERNET.
Now this may be a bit of exaggeration used to make a point. But it certainly got me thinking!
Redlining from Wikipedia: It describes the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest; later the term was applied to discrimination against a particular group of people (usually by race or sex) no matter the geography.
He said that the effect of our social graphs and digital footprints have become a sort of Social Redlining – how it works is this…
- We search for certain things (cookies record this)
- We click on certain links (cookies record this)
- Then when we load in a new webpage, the web server ‘serves up’ advertisements that correspond with the ‘profile’ or social graph that you have subconsciously created.
Anyone that has shopped for bird feeders on Amazon, for instance, has gotten the email: “Customers who have shown an interest in bird feeders might be interested in the following products: (numerous related products follow).
For most of us, this is a good thing. It is a given that websites are going to serve up ads. That is how they pay the expenses of gathering content, hosting it, etc. Most of us would rather see ads for stuff we are interested in, so even the consumer benefits.
What was interesting about this though is it has an amplifying, steering affect, which may become a drawback. It may narrow your choices and restrict your experience in a bad way. If you click on one style of music several times, you may never be exposed to other styles. The marketers are making an assumption about you, which may or may not be completely true and like a self-fulfilling prophecy you become more ingrained in the things that were once only a part of the whole picture of who you are.
I am not suggesting that we explicitly teach students to change the way they click and search the internet. But I do thing there is value in discussing this as we talk about modern economics, marketing, consumer behavior and technology (media) literacy.
image found in Wikipedia article • originally from the National Archives
Reviewing an article
“For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.”Shaul, Letter to the Romans
So I set down to come up with three words that describe what I do, who I am. I decided to go with Amplifier, Truth Seeker, Visionist. I am not even sure that Visionist is a word, but I don’t really think of my self as a visionary, and visionist was the closest I could come to describe myself as one who watches trends and changes and looks for solutions beyond the current reality. Truth Seeker, betrays the cynical, scientific mind while honoring the deeply spiritual interests I carry. And Amplifier, well amplifier describes that part of my career and personal path that I get great satisfaction from.
I hope to help others enrich, improve, and experience greater results as they learn. And this is what an amplifier does, it takes a small thing and makes it bigger and hopefully better. A amplifier is faithful to produce that which it is amplifying, with the nuances of individual components of the original truth receiving equal attention to detail. A good amplifier is very efficient and productive with little wasted energy, virtually no distortion and faithfully reproducing all that was already present in what is being amplified. Amplification, properly used, can be tailored to the audience’s needs- it doesn’t have to be obnoxiously loud, and it can be adjusted to the context of the room or environment, so that all the characteristics of the subject can be appreciated.
I hope to help others enrich, improve, and experience greater results as they learn. And this is what an amplifier does, it takes a small thing and makes it bigger and hopefully better.
What really set this training apart was that in all ten of the training rooms, there was a district administrator participating in the workshop. Not so much supervising as participating. From the superintendent down to the dean... participating.
What does the administration communicate by doing this?
- I am a lifelong learner.
- I don’t know it all.
- This training is important.
- Your time here is important.
- I am interested in this.
- I want to know what is possible.
- I want to see how hard this is.
- I want to know how this could impact learning in our school system.
I really expect the results of this training are going to be very different from most trainings I do, because this district knows how to lead by example.