Why Teachers Aren’t Making “The Shifts”

I’ve began a few talks with this slide and I think it serves to spark the conversation about change. It’s been a little while since Will has pushed my thinking as he did this week with his post called “My Summer of Confusion“. While he shares many concerns and questions it was this  paragraph that prompted a response from me:

I’m also wondering to what extent is it a professional educator’s responsibility to keep abreast of the latest research, technologies, and news that impact learning? At one presentation to about 800 people, only about 25 raised their hands when I asked if they’d visited Khan Academy. In general, throughout the summer, I’d estimate less than 10% had heard of MOOCs, the Maker Movement, or 3-D printing. On many occasions, I wondered aloud if we would accept a similar lack of currency for our physicians or our accountants. Bottom line: as a profession, we’re not keeping up with the changes that are occurring.

After a few back and forths on his blog, I figured it required an expanded response.

The physician example gets used a lot but I think it’s problematic. First and foremost physicians work independently. They have … Read the rest

The difference between Khan and Austin

I get it. Will is has a point about the Khanifcation of Education. But as I expressed

…after watching a few and even knowing one of them, Paul Andersen, I was under the impression that most of these are classroom teachers. At least many of them are. So what's the problem? I get it, you're worried about Gates' vision of Khan but I think Khan himself argues against his work replacing teachers. I say, be wary of the business model approach but also let's stop crapping on people, teachers or not, who just want to share. If we keep this up, we're going to be discouraging new folks from sharing lest we check their credentials at the door.

These gurus are teachers and they're doing what many have us have been doing for years, sharing what they know. The fact that many of the things they're sharing are directly aligned with many curricula shouldn't make them any more of a teacher than a textbook should be seen as a teacher. They're resources. And while the video format is more compelling and often a richer learning experience, they don't replace a great teacher. They might replace a lousy one, … Read the rest

Too Big for Your Britches

I've always felt this and certainly have experienced it, but as I've had the privilege of seeing a lot more schools and school districts up close, it's become evident to me that size is a real enemy to innovation. Change is difficult for any organization and education is particularly difficult because of its systematic problems and tensions as a public sector institution. But there is an inverse relationship between the layers of bureaucracy and the ability to innovate and change. I won't pretend that's a particularly profound or new realization but when I look at those pockets of change, it seems that it's often a result of fewer hoops to jump. 

I was fortunate to work for many years in a relatively small school district. All teachers had pretty easy access to superintendents and directors and even board members. Trust was easier to build. Certainly it doesn't guarantee a trusting environment but it's much easy to build. Convincing 2 people is easier than convincing 10. That's basic math. For example, back in 2007 I had a teacher email me asking if there might be a way for her students to use their cellphones in the classroom. This was way before Read the rest


I've not wrtten ia post about a tool in a long time. Mostly because I usually don't think about it that much and other people do a better job writing about it than I do anyway. But I've been using If This, Then That for a few months and quite like how it's helped my work flow. Will asked a few of us how we're using it and rather than try and cram it in a few tweets figured I could blog about it. Blogging is quite lovely thing for stuff like this. 😉

Let me share the tasks I've set up and why I use them..


I had a number of plugins that were supposed to autotweet new blog posts to twitter but they often failed. I've used the little cheesy phrase, "I've got something to share(ski)…." and it's easy to add that text in this task. It works well. 

One I hardly if ever use. I'm not very active on Facebook and really only have a presence there because of family. I thought I might occasionally have tweets using a #fb tag to go their but I never think of it. May be I wll someday. 

There's Read the rest

It’s not just a tool

This post was last updated on June 9th, 2016 at 11:24 am

Cross posted at Tech Learning

Saying technology is “just a tool” can be a very dangerous statement. I understand that when people say this, they’re simply trying to point out that technology is a peripheral that enables us to do the things we want to do better than before. I can agree with that concept but the problem with this thinking is that it often gets used to see technology only as a means to automate or make current practice more efficient. There are very few people involved in any level of education that thinks technology isn’t necessary for our students. Where we disagree is in how we’ll use it and most often there exists a lack of understanding and appreciation for the trans-formative nature of technology.

The question that my colleague Darren Kuropatwa asks in many of his presentations is “What is it I can do now that I couldn’t do before? is a fundamental question that should be asked way more. Many people’s use of technology simply involves faster and more efficient, not different. As Will Richardson points out,

“…if we’re touting the online

Read the rest