The Least Talked About Problem in EdTech

Having been involved with educational technology for almost 20 years, I’ve had more than my share of conversations around the issues of ¬†implementation, integration, transformation, use of technology in the classrooms. People are usually quick to point out the barriers which are mostly around leadership and pedagogy and more recently the word is mindset.

But no amount of change in mindset addresses the least talked about problem with edtech. Bandwidth.

Maslow Wifi


My journeys have led me to work with some wonderful educators who indeed have a resiliency and passion for innovation. They are the ones who create work arounds when a site is down or blocked, they tether their phones to create wifi for their students. They spent hours editing video and installing apps on their student devices. While they are great champions and sometimes are highlighted, they are a problem in that leaders assume all teachers can and should act in this way.

Imagine teaching English using books with half the pages ripped out. That’s essentially what it’s like for teachers trying to use devices with no bandwidth.

Bandwidth issues aren’t talked about largely because we aren’t quite sure what the issue is. Is it a small pipe? Is … Read the rest

When Sharing Goes Bad, Pithy Quote Fetish and Kids These Days

This post was last updated on May 6th, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I left a comment on Wes’ blog after this rather unfortunate event happened. I decided to repost here with a few additional thoughts and modifications.



I think there are three issues that come to mind for me:

1. It’s important we understand and accept the trade offs with technology. Too often we in the ed tech community have to oversell technology in order to make in roads. We’re not naive, I don’t think we ignore the downsides, but perhaps if we prepare folks for deeper understanding, these kinds of things won’t be seen as a reason to discontinue. 99.99% of my experience in sharing has been overwhelmingly positive. I have to think that for most people who have made sharing a part of ¬†what they do, it’s similar. But I’m afraid if you’ve not made this your default, it might make you gun shy. That’s unfortunate. Yes, occasionally sharing goes bad. But in the same way that being kind can backfire, I hope it wouldn’t stop you from continuing to be kind. Understand this comes with the territory. Some might suggest Wes shouldn’t post pictures of … Read the rest

Don’t Ask People What They Want

Cross posted at the Huffington Post.

Steve Jobs never believed in focus groups. Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple and Steve Jobs said, "Apple Market research is an oxymoron. If you ask people what they want they'll tell you "Better, faster and cheaper"- that is better sameness, not revolutionary change. Many other innovators have echoed similar sentiments. This flies in the face of the idea that the customer is always right. Jobs also said "people don't know what they want until you show it to them" No doubt he was a brash visionary that designed some very innovative products that many people adore. 

In education I hear this sentiment a lot lately: "Involve and engage all stakeholders". That sounds lovely. Why wouldn't we want input for parents and the community? All stakeholders in this case probably means every parent and taxpayer. That's a lot of people with a lot of ideas about what school should look like.  There's a desire to be transparent and be collaborative. These are words I use with great frequency to describe learning. But I'm beginning to question these ideas when it comes to making bold moves in education. 

I think of … Read the rest

The Dangers of Personalization

This post was last updated on January 6th, 2020 at 05:02 pm

Watch this.

Okay, so that should make you think.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I wrote this piece for the Huffington Post last year and so you don’t’ have to read the whole thing here’s where that post relates to the video above.

Our current system and structure fights personalized learning with nearly every new policy and protocol it can generate. The system craves standardization while we desperately need customization. These competing ideals butt heads constantly and for those teachers who do believe in personalizing learning, they live in perpetual frustration……While I’m busy advocating for changes that might support an education that fuels and fosters students’ passions, I worry that we lose sight of what a liberal education is all about. They don’t know what they don’t know. Providing students with broad experiences that invites them to develop a variety of skills, understand and appreciate diverse perspectives and potentially uncover hidden talents and interests speaks to a fairly well accepted purpose of school.

Just like google and facebook, progressive education seeks to find what students are interested in and facilitate learning that acknowledges their passion. I don’t think Google … Read the rest

Coaches and Mentors

This post was last updated on 1 month ago at 1 month ago


Watching a recent interview with golf legend Tom Watson, David Feherty asked him what he thought  about the trend in the game today for players to use coaches. He commented on how the range at a PGA tour event is full of entourages for each player that includes swing coaches, mental coaches, fitness coaches and more. Watson, now in his 60’s recalled how he is now one of the few players who doesn’t bring a coach with him to tour events. He talked about the advice he was given as a young aspiring golfer: “Go find the best players, watch them and play with them”. He said he found mentors, not coaches who helped him become the great player that he was. 

Of course this got me thinking about the two terms and they way not only Watson viewed them but how they relate to educators and more specifically the work I’m doing with Lani Ritter-Hall and PLP. Lani and I and our team of coaches have had many conversations about defining and redefining our roles. It’s tough work. particularly dealing with adults who are professionals. Read the rest