Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 40 seconds

Connected: the cool, the critical, and the caring in #edtech

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 40 seconds

I’d been running away from ed tech for years. Because I moved into education from a computer science background, and our Center for Learning and Teaching approached faculty development with a half-pedagogy/half-technology focus (roughly speaking), I ended up having to do a lot of ed tech work – granted, from a pedagogy first perspective, with lots of emphasis on assessment, but still. For years, I fought having the word “technologist” in my title. I was all kinds of “instructional technologist” for some time. Then I finally managed to have it changed to one that emphasized pedagogy & assessment.

I was also sick of many people’s deterministic attitudes towards ed tech: it was either the silver bullet or the downfall of our futures. I was sick of generalizing research that said meaningless decontextualized things like “Is blended learning better than purely f2f”. Who comes up with these questions and who benefits (as an educator on the ground) from that kind of thing?

And then, just as I was finishing my PhD (research was on critical thinking in higher ed, no tech there) our department had an opening for a NTT faculty position that would have a strong blended learning emphasis.

Found myself in this strange position of coveting the position, but unsure if I wanted to get back into edtech that heavily.

I am so glad I came back, and I have to thank all the wonderful people whose presence in my life has made me love being back on this ed tech field again. People I found on twitter, on cMOOCs, at conferences. Most of the words I can find to describe them begin with a “c”, so here goes…

Connected: they’re not only on social media, they’re responsive. It’s quite a niche of special educators who can be big names in their field and still follow you back on twitter and respond to your tweets

Critical: they’re not so enthusiastic about the power of ed tech that they forget to be critical. Most educators I know are naturally critical in their own area of expertise; this does not necessarily translate into reflective or critical thinking about their own teaching. That includes faculty i support, as well as in-service teachers I teach. So finding a bulk of critical digital pedagogues has been essential for me, to have those people to have conversations with, to read their stuff, to do things with them. They help me stay critical and become more critical, but they are also critical in caring ways…

Caring: they’re not just about connecting for the benefit. Many of them care, not just about what they do, but about the people they meet online. I cannot count the number of times an online friend was my main support through a personal or professional crisis.

Cool: and this last one cannot be underestimated. It’s fun working with them and interacting with them. They don’t take themselves too seriously and they want to be having fun, too. So I spent a big part of my winter break doing rhizo14 and my summer break doing clmooc – that was useful to my professional development? Heck, yeah. But why was I doing it? I was enjoying myself immensely. I was up doing #tvsz and #readmake at odd hours in the early morning, and i was working with Jim Groom for the #et4online conference while commuting via 3G on my iPad… Because it was fun, that’s why.

I’m still not a big fan of tech, i like Sean Michael Morris’ “digital agnostic” term, but I am also a heavily connected person, a “cyborg” (term I heard in #edcmooc but fell in love with when Bonnie Stewart blogged about it).

But I have a lot of faith in the people in this niche in the ed tech field. And I am so lucky to have found friendship & community with some of them 🙂

P.S. Added a few mins later, after conversation with Bon Stewart on twitter:
These people are also creative, collaborative, and since “hug” does not start with “c”, I’ll just say I want to cuddle them. Or is that too creepy?
P.P.S. And after Bonnie just tweeted a funny sesame street video about words that start with “c” i would like to add that these people are open to challenge & controversy, while occasionally enjoying acting (hehe, and i mean this in a good way) childish

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