The Mis-Education of Edtech Spaces

Collaboration around problems in education

One of the greatest learning experiences of my entire life was attending the TED Global Summit last summer in Canada. It was a space filled with creatives, entrepreneurs, community/business leaders, college students, philanthropists, and so much more…including educators. While my two days in our “educator only” sessions were inspiring, it was the integration and collaboration with the greater TED community that completely shifted my approach to my own growth…possibly breaking any chance at all of me ever wanting to participate in “education-only” spaces again…especially edtech.

In education, we do weird things sometimes like apply “edu” definitions to things that should be applicable to anyone. The maker movement is a prime example and if you spent days listening to people debate what being a “maker” meant, maybe you’d get my frustration, especially as someone who makes things often.

Seriously…it has the word “MAKE” in it. There’s no way around that fact!

These conversations were a painful reminder of my time on a geometry teaching team when one teacher actually said that “geometric constructions” meant constructing ideas. That’s not what that means at all.

Don’t even get me started on this “hyper” phenomenon! I watched an “expert” of this literally walk people through how to create a table in a document, change the background color, add images, instructions and links to elements from the lesson. In the real world, we call this creating a document with full understanding of the functionality of the tool and maybe adding collaborators because that is literally all it is.

In the education space, we have chosen to “make it teacher friendly” and dumb down everyday activities and tools JUST to make them easier points of entry for teachers who struggle with connecting real uses of tech into their classroom world. Thus…hyper (insert average tool/activity) makes it awesome.

Before flooding the comments about my disdain of this practice of “watered down” instruction, please know that I am fully aware of the idea of meeting teachers where they are. I am also pretty darn proud that in my work, we have managed to avoid even touching the “hyper” word. The mention of it makes me ill and your comments won’t change that…at all.

At the end of the day, I became a teacher because I wanted to help kids find and live out their dreams. I wanted to support teachers because frankly, no one should think that “geometric constructions” mean to literally only construct ideas. (Refers back to throw up meme)

I love practical everyday creative uses of technology and live for our ability to find information, learn and connect. Every person must have this.

At the same token, I have to say that I’ve found great support in talking to and learning from people outside of the edu/edtech space and in those conversations have developed a new lens into learning that has taken me right back to why I chose this career to begin with.

Experience matters greatly and if we ever want to step away from the definitive box of education, perhaps we need to extend our reach and have real conversations with people who aren’t in our schools, towns, companies that we deal with or metric of understanding.

Education is the one thing that we all have in common but through more connecting, perhaps we will find that we have much more or maybe we’ll learn about some idea that we didn’t even know existed.

That has been my experience anyway.

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