Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Too Far Out There?

I'm sitting here in a daze. I just got some feedback from someone who has been traveling around the state talking to school districts about networks, wiring closets, etc etc. During his conversations he's been mentioning my services. I was very pleased to hear that they knew of me. A good thing. But, they say that I'm "... so far out there and they were no where near ready to implement any of that stuff. They couldn't even relate to getting it" (This is how it was put to me this evening.)

What? Too far out there? I show examples of student and teacher blogs and I suggest that authentic audiences would be a VERY high motivation factor for students when they write. I show the Flat World Wikis and the Horizon Project wikis as examples of collaboration ideas. I show skype and talk about how it can be used to bring authors into class. I ask them how their students manage the resources they find when doing online research, and when nobody has ANY idea how the kids manage their resources, I show them Diigo and talk about the wonderful enhancements it makes to their classes. I talk about using a Discussion forum to allow kids to carry on conversations about their content after the class period or even the unit of study ends. I talk about the Creative Commons. I demo google docs and a form with some data being plotted while they submit the forms and I talk about how using Google Docs (or Office Live) solves so many problems that they have with regard to how kids collaborate or how they transport files, etc. I show them what an important tool an aggregator is - both for them and for their students. I show them how to search. These are ALL skills that carry forward with the student through their college lives and even their personal lives, wouldn't you agree?

So, I don't get it. What am I supposed to do? Go in there and say, "Hey, nice work on that PowerPoint stuff, guys." Or, "Check it! I can show you how to automate the process of making worksheets." If we DON'T talk about this, how do they expect to EVER see anything different? Has the bar been raised then Super Glued at the level of PowerPoint, and that's just fine with us, thank you very much?

If not now, WHEN, for crying out loud? If not THIS school, then WHICH school? I REFUSE to even consider the notion that what we see now in the schools in terms of technology use is as good as it can get. But, they say I'm too far out there? They're not ready for that, yet? THEN WHEN WILL THEY BE READY TO AT LEAST HEAR ABOUT IT??

I watched students researching on their laptops, then printing the pages they found, and then using the highlighters from the teacher's desk to highlight the important stuff. And yet they don't want to hear about Diigo? I watched kids getting back their writing assignments and tossing them in the garbage can, but they don't want to hear about blogging? I watched as a class went up front, one by one, to give a powerpoint presentation - all on the same subject, but they don't want to hear about backchanneling. I saw a classroom full of students with laptops, watching the teacher write notes on the board and then typing them into their own Word Documents to be printed and put into their notebooks. They were Juniors. IS THAT WHAT THEY WANT? I'M TOO FAR OUT THERE?

At the top of my blog it says, I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!! Say it with me. "I DEMAND A WORLD CLASS EDUCATION FOR MY KIDS!" Well, DAMNIT, I DO! And I REFUSE to stop sharing this with teachers whenever I can. It's not acceptable to say that they're not ready to hear this. It's malpractice to say that, "That stuff is just too far out there for me."

If not now, WHEN? If not YOUR school, WHICH school?


Charlie Roy said...

@ Jim
A very passionate post. Change is always difficult. It seems to be especially difficult for schools. Perhaps it is caused by the isolation of most teachers. Schools that break down this isolation and treat teachers as professionals seem to do a better job of embracing true qualitative integration of technology.

Frannie said...

If they don't hear about it they will never use it. What was once too far out their is now common, the same will be true of blogs, wikis and other web 2.0 resources. Keep yelling it to the moon, they will listen!

Anonymous said...


That's disheartening to hear about how much intellectual and institutional inertia has permeated so many of the audiences you address and made them fearful of tools and resources with which they are not familiar.

Nevertheless, your pieces of advice and specific suggestions for enhancing current curriculum with collaborative web tools are totally on point and will likely resonate with SOME of the people in your audiences.

Hopefully some of these teachers will establish their own PLNs, being exploring these tools on their own, discover how many other educators are out there employing these tools in innovative ways (and offering ideas about how others can do so), and begin grassroots movements to blend technology in authentic ways in their own schools. Perhaps part of your challenge deals with being an outsider who is perceived as unknowledgeable about each school's particular circumstances. However, once individuals within those various institutions begin adopting your suggestions, discovering new resources, and then sharing them with their colleagues, your suggestions will start coming to fruition.

Ken Rodoff said...

You have my support. And I sure hope it wasn't a CFF school.

Now that would be troubling.

Change is uncomfortable, and remember, every one of those people you spoke to reached their position in life with a different kind of education you are espousing.

So why would they immediately embrace your ideas, even with evidence?

Just asking. You know I'm on board with you on this topic. And struggling to change the people I refer to as:

obstacles of obstinance.

Louise Maine said...

As an insider, I can tell you I have been told I am way out there too and I am the one using these technologies in the classroom (and not just the tools, the pedagogical changes too.) In some circles, they talk about you as an "us" and "them" type of scenario which is incredibly disheartening as I would like to help everyone. The walls are not put up by me, but by everyone else. This is beyond inertia and not sure what will change that besides a complete collapse of the system.

mrsdurff said...

I feel less alone now. Thank you, it was getting lonely...

Diane Foose said...

I wonder if by "too far out there", he meant, "I really am feeling overwhelmed because after talking to you I realize we are so far behind." In that case, I guess you should take that comment as a compliment. I'm curious to know what position that person held/holds within the educational system. I think we just need to keep pushing/shouting, not just through talking about it but by doing it. Then maybe seeing will be believing.

Branded USB Sticks said...

Well i am not feeling alone. I am with my friends. We are enjoying alot.