It’s not Just Technology

Lots of people have talked about this. But I want to put in my 2¢ worth. Technology is not the only reason to come to an educational technology conference. I have presented a number of technology sessions here at NCECT, including: blogging, podcasting, web 2.0, and RSS. With the exception of RSS, they have all been packed.

However, Telling the New Story was only scarcely attended. This was a presentation about the stories that our education system is wrapped around, and the stories of our world and its future. The intent of the session is to help educators and education leaders to convince those who fund our classrooms by scripting new stories and telling them again and again, to everyone.

When you walk around and glance in the sessions, it is obvious that the what and the how sessions are packed. The why sessions draw only handfuls.

Perhaps I’m asking too much. Perhaps a technology conference should be about the technology, and we need a new kind of conference for the why. Would educators and education leaders attend a futures education conference? Are there vendors who would exhibit in them? Are there agencies or associations who would organize them?

Just 2¢ worth of questions.

8 thoughts on “It’s not Just Technology”

  1. The edublogosphere *is* the “why” conference. All of our mixes of “the world is flat”, “contemporary literacy”, the various conversations threaded through the magic of RSS.

    That said, I strongly believe that to get to the “next level” some of us “pioneers” need some sort of organization to develop. A support structure of sorts…a think tank…advocacy…a little bit of glue to hold things together.

  2. I agree completely with David, and partially with pedersoj, the why is incredibly important because that should be what is driving us. If we allow technology and the what to be our guide we will eventually lose sight of our goal, which is to educate children. The edublogosphere is wonderful for tech savvy, or tech curious teachers, but it will not reach the politicians, the tech illiterate, those that fear technology. We are preaching to the choir in the edublogosphere, we need to go out and face the masses.

  3. I feel your pain. If I offer a session locally on using Word or Powerpoint, I get them out in droves. Anything dealing with web 2.0 or heaven forbid the “why” issues, I only get a few.

    Perhaps we have to disguise these messages better. I think they are important ones. My experience has been that while I’ve offered many the blog kool-aid for example, the few that have stuck with it are the ones with the reflective approach to teaching. They want to know why and the tools then make sense for them. Willard Daggett said at a conference once that we need to spend twice as much time telling people why we need to change and much less telling them how. Once they realize why and get that, the how will come way easier. The how is just the easier stuff to do.

    As far as the why conference idea, I’m afraid it would continue to attract those that already get it. So do your best to hide your agenda then stick it to them! I know that doesn’t sound very ethical but I truly think teachers need to know more about why we need to change.

  4. I am generalizing a bit here but – I believe you greatly, greatly overestimate how many really have a clue that there even is a WHY. The tech gadgets and the hope to be on the cutting edge of tech gadgets and what you might be able to do with them is the draw. As is the possibility to talk about what great stuff you may have been doing or are thinking about doing. Since the only place you might find enough people that know enough about tech to understand what you are doing with tech is at a tech conference – you are drawn there. The WHY is very difficult to understand unless you have had a personal ongoing experience with using tech as a tool to get at WHY.
    If you observe a classroom where a teacher is demonstrating a math lesson that is supposed to engage and teach a certain math skill – it is easy to see if the lesson is effective because all or most students are getting it and are even motivated to get it by the high powered effective lesson or they are not.
    But when you observe a “WHY” lesson you have to really know the students in class to understand the magic that is happening. If you don’t know that Johnny has ALWAYS been non-productive and unmotivated then all you see is a motivated student working hard, getting along with others, asking good questions of his group members and thinking about how to do things etc. We all have students like that so I’m not seeing value in this. If you don’t do this kind of work with students the fact that students are engaged and ON TASK for long periods of time and are concerned about the quality of their work doesn’t occur to you (it does take some work to get them to this point by the way, but you have be willing to put in some time – you’ll find it well worth it). Because the task or project is “Open Ended” with many possible ways to “Get There” and the evaluation is based on final product or performance and debriefing and portfolios and maybe not a multiple choice test (but you could do that if you wanted to) many can’t relate that to what they do or get why that might be important – or feel it is too time consuming to “get through all the curriculum or standards I’m supposed to get through.”
    I could say much more, but that would be rambling…

  5. I loved your conferences at the GAETC! Anyone who misses out is just afraid of terms they don’t know!

    I’ve already read your book five times. Created three blogs, a bloglines account, bookmarks, RSS feeds to integrate into existing websites.

    The most exciting thing has been the project for this week. We’ve created a class wiki at wikispaces to investigate Web 2.0. I started with posted just the terms I learned from you and they’ve developed from there. You can see it at

    The most amazing thing happened today. My daughter was sick so I am at home. I have the students working on their wiki pages at school while I am logged in. I am commenting and posting as are they. We had a great day of learning and communicating and I wasn’t even in the room. They stayed engaged and they are learning to summarize and glean information off the web.

    I have a lot of things to improve on Monday but two days and I’m impressed!

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