What if it happened before the Internet?

One of the challenges of writing a history of educational technology is that so much of it happened before the Internet. I have been surprised and disappointed at how much of it, that I barely remember, has never been reported on the now ubiquitous World Wide Web.

As a result, I’ve had to be resourceful in my research, and one of the tools that I’ve found myself going to again and again is Google’s Ngram viewer.  Here’s the situation.  I’m writing about happenings just after I left the NC Department of Public Instruction and discovering that my future is going to be in training and presenting, instead of Web design and development.  I believe that it was during this time when the term “Integrate technology’ was being adopted by ed tech advocates.  But I’m not sure.  How do I determine, on a timeline, the growing use and abuse of the term.

Click to Enlarge

Enter Ngram Viewer.  The default terms are Albert Einstein, Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein.  The viewer presents a line chart, illustrating the number of Google digitized books that mention the term by year, from 1500 to 2008.  The default shows the gradual growth of Frankenstein from just after the publishing of Mary Shelley’s book (1818), and then a more rapid rise of Sherlock Holmes starting in the final years of the 19th century.  Occurrences of Albert Einstein started in the second quarter of the 20th century and then Frankenstein, again, overtakes and surges well above, starting in the 1960s – possibly as a result of television’s re-running of Frankenstein movies released in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Entering the term, “integrate technology into the classroom,” into Ngram Viewer, I learn that, although the term started to appear in the late 1980s, its popular use started to rise in the mid-1990s, as we left the growing number of education technology conferences with our new mantra, “Integrate Technology! Integrate Technology!  Integrate Technology!”

Ommmmmm!

The Day that It Changed for Me

Bob Geary photo accompanying an IndyWeek article about the NC General Assembly's plans to divert millions of taxpay money from public education to private schools.

Some of you are aware that I am working on a new book.  I wrote about it here, in I Can’t Believe that I’m Doing this Again!  The initial intent of the book is to describe the history of educational technology, as I have witnessed it.  However, I won’t really know for sure what this book is about until I finish it.  Like all living things, it’s becoming…

Reaching the vicinity of 1994 has provoked a long forgotten memory, an event that convinced me that my days, in my cushy government (NCDPI) position, were numbered.

Here’s what happened.

The big thing in leadership circles at that time was Total Quality Management (TQM). It was developed by Edward Deming, at least partly during the post-war years helping Japan rebuild its economy.  I have shamelessly forgotten all of the tenets of this movement, as with all of the improvement schemes of the 1990s. But TQM was really big thing at NCDPI, as the Associate State Superintendent, Henry Johnson, had recently attended a set of workshops. So inspired was he, that hire the consulting firm and required the entire instructional services staff to attend.

I do not remember the name of the firm that delivered the workshops, nor the name of the little woman who led them. I just remember that she came in about every other week, with two or three young minions in tow, prepared to change the way we did things. Although we felt that we could better use the time, we also recognized that we could alway improve our services.  So we came with learning and self-reflection in mind. What we didn’t expect was to have our steady-enough legs swept out from under us.

It was near the end of the day of the third or fourth session, when she asked us, “Who do you work for?”

We said, in unison, more than a hundred of us, “The Children of North Carolina.” She looked a little puzzled, and then repeated the question, “Who do you work for?” We looked at each other, our turns to be puzzled. Some people, hesitantly called out, “Communities of North Carolina?” “Parents of our students?” “The schools of North Carolina?” “The teachers in the schools of North Carolina?” ..after each attempt that little lady would repeat,

“Who do you work for?”

Our frustration turned to horror when she blurted out, “You work for your General Assembly (legislature)!”

We, in instructional services, had all come to the Department of Public Instruction because we were educators. We were not there working jobs. We had missions. We believed that we were contributing to a better world by serving the education of our children. The North Carolina General Assembly was viewed, most often, as a barrier to our work, restricting us with budget cuts, politically motivated dictates, and the effects of increasingly blaming teachers and NCDPI for what these politicians called, “Failing schools.”

Horror probably best describes how we felt when she told us that we worked for the General Assembly, and even more horrible was the sudden realization that she was right. The job of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction was to enforce and support the laws passed by our law-making body.

That was the day that I realized that I would be doing something else, sometime soon.

“Follow the Money” to Ferguson

Chris Lehmann challenged us (EduBloggers) last week to join the conversation about the police shooting of an 18 year old African-American man in Ferguson, Missouri and militarized posturing of law enforcement against the resulting protests. To be honest, I was not fully aware of the situation, too focused on getting my daughter ready to return to college and establishing a second residence to be closer to my and my wife’s parents.

I’ll agree wholeheartedly with all of Chris’ sentiments here, here and here, and would expound on them if I could. But, as a white, anglo saxon, protestant, eighth generation American, whose grandfather’s grandfather probably owned slaves, I honestly do not feel worthy to ardently express righteous sympathy with what I would characterize as second Americans. White man’s guilt?

I would like to ask a different question, though – and not as an attempt to distract us from a conversation about the unfulfilled promises (myths) of the American Dream. I ask this alternate question because I believe that there is another struggle happening here, one that possibly goes back to the beginnings of this country.

Looking at the picture to the right, I do not see how anyone could disagree with calling this a militarized police presence. But where did all that military hardware come from? Who bought it? ..and why? ..and Who got paid for it?

If we agree that one reason for learning (being taught) history is to avoid making its mistakes1, then here might be a useful starting question, “What were the historical mistakes that led to the situation of this picture?”

This could go almost anywhere in human history, of course, and why should formal learning experiences be limited (by testable standards)? But that’s a different issue — maybe.

We might, for instance, go no further than a little more than a decade ago, when 19 mostly Saudi Arabian terrorists, attacked the United States at it’s heart, New York City. Those 19 mostly Saudi Arabian men, using our own technology against us, were effective nearly beyond anyone’s imagination.

Our response was to make war in Afghanistan and Iraq and declare war on terror, establishing the Department of Homeland Security.  Although little else happened here, local police forces still find themselves armed for terror both from without and within. ..And you know what they say about a hammer.2

I would suggest that we responsibly and effectively teach history to avoid its mistakes, but also as a guard against having history re-written for us.

I will close here by suggesting that we ask students utilize contemporary literacy skills and do what Deep Throat3 said, “Follow the Money.”

 

1 A paraphrasing of George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.Santayana, G. (1905). The life of reason. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15000

2 The Law of the Instrument, or as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

3 Deep Throat is the pseudonym given to the secret informant who provided information toBob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post in 1972 about the involvement of United States President Richard Nixon‘s administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe I’m Doing this Again!

One of the nice things about writing again, is that it doesn’t require a huge monitor.  Therefore, I am not chained to my upstairs office.  I can do it virtually anywhere.  🙂

In our 35 years of marriage, there have been only a few instances when my wife realized what a cleaver fellow I am – maybe three. I think one occurred yesterday.

As you may be aware, I am winding down my career as an educator.  My wife, concerned about identity security, has spent parts of the last couple of days looking for my social security number included in two large file cabinets of documents from 19 years of clients and jobs.  She commented, as we were walking up to North Hills yesterday, that I had accomplished a lot in my years as an independent and been part of some pretty exciting developments in education and technology.

Then she said, “You should write a book about all of this.”  

My reply was simple, the same that I’ve said to colleagues who have recently asked, “So now that you’re not traveling so much, are you going to write a new book?”

“No!”

“I’m through!  I’m tired!  ..and writing is really hard work for me…”

Yet, this morning, as I woke and lay in bed, my mind was going like it hasn’t in many months, seeming to have realized that in some deep and evil corner of my brain, the decision has been made.  I had an outline written out by 8:30 this morning – for a new book about the history of educational technology.

I really can’t believe that I’m Doing this Again!

The most important developments in human history

There are a lot of developments here. Some of them we don’t appear to use anymore. However, without all of these developments, we would not be where we are today. Try to find scientists and poll them as to what are the most important developments, and then poll your students. After all the of the […]

the-most-important-developments-in-human-history_52c8bb69a19a8_w1500.pngThere are a lot of developments here. Some of them we don’t appear to use anymore. However, without all of these developments, we would not be where we are today. Try to find scientists and poll them as to what are the most important developments, and then poll your students. After all the of the information is compiled, share with your students what the scientists said.

Go through each development, or assign developments to groups of students. Why is each development important. What could not have happened without each development. Speculate where we would be without said development.

Blog: http://visual.ly/most-important-developments-human-history

The Beginning of Everything: The Big Bang

This infographic video goes through the the history of the Big Bang theory, both it’s discovery and how it worked. It is important to explain to your students that it is important to understand this theory, even if they do not believe it. It is important to appreciate and understand different theories. Make sure your […]

This infographic video goes through the the history of the Big Bang theory, both it’s discovery and how it worked. It is important to explain to your students that it is important to understand this theory, even if they do not believe it. It is important to appreciate and understand different theories.

Make sure your students understand the big, overall, stepping stones to the development of this theory. But how did Albert Einstein develop the theory of relativity? What was his thinking process, as far as we can understand? How can we apply his thinking process to our daily lives in order to make our own discoveries?

What do your students think will be the next discovery? Do research on what is being studied now? What is closest to a breakthrough? What has been disproved?

Blog: http://visual.ly/beginning-everything-–-big-bang 

The History of Opportunity

In the opinion of you and your students, what was the biggest development that has led to our modern day life? The Gutenberg Press, the typewriter, electricity, the computer? How can your students harness this technology in order to take advantage of the opportunities this infographic claims there is? Most importantly in preparing for tomorrow, […]

the-history-of-opportunity_517bd59389399_w1500-1.pngIn the opinion of you and your students, what was the biggest development that has led to our modern day life? The Gutenberg Press, the typewriter, electricity, the computer? How can your students harness this technology in order to take advantage of the opportunities this infographic claims there is?

Most importantly in preparing for tomorrow, your students must look to tomorrow, what are going to be the technological advances of tomorrow that will build the opportunities of tomorrow. Without knowing what they are, what can your students do to prepare for the technology of tomorrow. Better yet, what can your students do to create the technology of tomorrow.

Blog: http://visual.ly/history-opportunity

The History of Press (Printing)

We are taught that Johann Gutenberg created the first printing press. But this infographic goes back to an older printer in 618 AC. It also says that Gutenberg’s was the first movable type. So why are we (or at least I) taught that Gutenberg invented the first printing press, and before this it was all […]

the-history-of-press-printing_52544b78d401d_w1500.pngWe are taught that Johann Gutenberg created the first printing press. But this infographic goes back to an older printer in 618 AC. It also says that Gutenberg’s was the first movable type. So why are we (or at least I) taught that Gutenberg invented the first printing press, and before this it was all handwritten.

Regardless of what is taught, how did the printing press, both the Chinese version and Gutenberg’s, change things? How did this change literacy and lead to the Enlightenment and then the American Revolution, and other revolutions? What could have happened if the Europeans had a printing press before the dark ages? Could we be living like the Jetsons?

Now, look at newspapers from various centuries and after important developments in this infographic. How did the  appearance of the newspapers change? What is the most significant technological change? What about the most significant appearance change?

Blog: http://visual.ly/history-press-printing

Celebrating America’s Diversity

This infographic begins in the year 1820. What was going on in the world in 1820 that makes this infographic begin there. Do you agree that it should begin there? Should it begin earlier, or later? What were the biggest factors that led to immigration to America? Where did the immigrants settle in America? What […]

celebrating-americas-diversity-family-history-month-2011_50290d3e5e9b9_w1500.pngThis infographic begins in the year 1820. What was going on in the world in 1820 that makes this infographic begin there. Do you agree that it should begin there? Should it begin earlier, or later? What were the biggest factors that led to immigration to America?

Where did the immigrants settle in America? What was going on in each state that led to the number of immigrants, or lack there of? The infographic only talks about how many immigrants are in each state. When did the immigrants travel there and why? For instance, North Carolina has a recognizable immigrant population. What is going on that we have so many? Why not other states?

Blog: http://visual.ly/celebrating-americas-diversity-family-history-month-2011

Modern American Financial History

A friend once told me that he once had a history teacher who, because she had studied history teacher, she foresaw the recent recession coming. Let’s hope that she got all of her money out of stocks before it happened. There is also a saying that history repeats itself. Looking at this infographic, what do […]

modern-american-financial-history_502919833e38f_w1500.png

A friend once told me that he once had a history teacher who, because she had studied history teacher, she foresaw the recent recession coming. Let’s hope that she got all of her money out of stocks before it happened. There is also a saying that history repeats itself. Looking at this infographic, what do you think?

By comparing and contrasting each economic down turn, what are some of the similarities and some of the differences? What are factors that may contribute to the next economic down turn?Answer the same questions for each economic upturn? Does it simply take time to come out of a poor economic time, or are there certain things that can be done to help it along?

Finally, do you and your students think that once we are out of this recession, we will be done with them for good? Probably not, but what can you and your students do to prepare for the next one? The next one will probably happen when your students are adults, and starting jobs. What should they do to prepare of a recession while they are just starting out in life?

Blog: http://visual.ly/modern-american-financial-history