Dean Shareski, a Canadian educator I’ve known a long time through his writing, Twitter, and interactions at many conferences, recently wrote on his blog that “I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore”. His reasoning is hard to argue with.
And somewhere in the last 5 years or so, my relationship with edtech has changed. To be fair, It’s a bit of “it’s not you, it’s me”. In my early years, I was busy convincing educators and leaders that technology afforded new opportunities and innovations that would shift and transform learning. For the most part, this message and belief is pervasive in most schools and yet actualizing and implementing this remains a challenge. To that end, my interest has shifted to talking about learning more broadly, stripping away the specifics and focusing on what matters most whether or not it includes a specific technology or not.
This is an idea I’ve been rolling around in my head for a long time. Truth be told, I probably gave up identifying myself as an “edtech” guy several years before leaving my edtech-titled job with the overly-large school district. I certainly came to loath the “techie” label that many of us got tagged with early on.1
Anyway, if we were being honest with ourselves, that shift Dean sees in himself – from discussions with teachers about specific technology to one focused on the larger topic of learning – is one we all should make, and probably should have have made long ago.
We’ve spent far too much time and energy (not to mention money) trying to figure out how to graft computers onto the standard school model, while, at the same time, the rapid adoption of mobile devices and fast networks has completely changed the learning process outside of school.
In fact, in many ways, our emphasis on “educational” technology has been something of an impediment to improving the learning process in schools, and reforming the system in general.
In the end, I agree with Dean that there are still many interesting new technologies worth paying attention to (augmented and virtual reality from his examples are at the top of my list). But focusing on them in terms of “educational” has become too narrow and limiting.
The category of “edtech” needs to go away.
The photo comes from the VSTE Conference at which Dean was our keynote speaker. The theme of his talk was joy and this was him, with a few friends, jumping for joy. One of my favorite images.
1. At some point I stopped entering my title (Educational Technology Specialist) on forms like conference registration and started using “Educator. Blogger. Learner. Geek.”. Easier to understand for those reading it and more descriptive too.