Unseen on the Screen
Beyond the Five-Minute Video
Because the ed tech story is complex and
difficult to present in a comprehensive,
breezy manner, now and then someone
will create and post to the Web a short
video to raise awareness and promote the
cause of educational technology (e.g., Did
You Know?; Looking Backward, Thinking
Forward; Pay Attention). Bloggers report
the videos are useful when introducing ed tech issues to parents, school board
members, and fellow educators. The latest video of
this genre, Changing to Learn, Learning to Change, was
produced by the Pearson Foundation in partnership with
the Consortium for School Networking.
Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership
Academy in Philadelphia took issue with its content on
his blog, Practical Theory:
I’m disturbed by the fascination with connection for
connection’s sake that I see in the first few minutes
of the [Pearson/CoSN] video. I remain very, very
concerned with the notion that all we have to do is let
the kids connect with the world—just like they do on
Facebook or MySpace—and the kids will learn… .
We have to stop just thinking that the introduction of
these tools without an incredible amount of planning
and forethought will change anything for the better.
The technology can be transformative, but only when
coupled with a sense of where you are going and why.
He argued that the video fails to address self-evident truths
missed by many other well-meaning ed tech proponents:
We still have an insanely anti-intellectual
culture that is so much more powerful than schools.
Deep learning is still hard, and our culture is moving
away from valuing things that are hard to do. We still
need teachers to teach kids thoughtfulness, wisdom,
care, compassion, and there’s an anti-teacher rhetoric
that, to me, undermines that video’s message.
the pressing need for persuasive ed tech videos
trumps splitting hairs over shadings of agenda.
The Changing to Learn video might not have
been perfect, he argued, but it can be used to
create a much-needed conversation.
Teachers need big-time support in
this area. I’m more concerned with
beginning to develop a repository of
high-quality videos that tell a variety of
stories about change. I’ll sort through the ones that
communicate the message I think is most important;
we just don’t have a whole lot to choose from. Show
me...don’t tell me.
Beyond the Rhetoric
Scott McLeod, coordinator of the Educational Administration program at Iowa State University, spoke in a
tangential vein on his blog, Dangerously Irrelevant. He
picked up the gauntlet of “
let’s-get-beyond-the-change-for-change’s-sake” rhetoric hinted at by Lehmann.
“What’s your plan?” he wants to know, especially in
regard to would-be reformers. We mean a real plan.
Not just “kids learning independently on matters of
personal interest, taking advantage of the power of
digital technology to help them do so.” What will the
structures look like? Policies? Laws?
Quit offering us dreams. Quit preaching to us about
what is morally right and educationally appropriate… .
Even if we agree with you that this is important, without a vision and a plan we’re just as stuck as you are.
Beyond the Video Argument
Dean Shareski, a digital learning consultant with the
Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, countered in his blog, Ideas and Thoughts, that
Consortium for School Networking (2008.) Changing to Learn,
Learning to Change: http://www.cosn.org
Draper, D. (2007.) Pay Attention. Jordan School District:
Fisch, K. (2007.) Did You Know?: http://thefischbowl.blogspot.
com/2007/06/ did-you-know- 20.ht ml
Lehmann, C. (2008, May 17.) Practical Theory:
Looking Backward, Thinking Forward:
McLeod, S. (2008, May 19.) Dangerously Irrelevant:
Shareski, D. (2008, May 21.) Ideas and Thoughts:
By Caprice Lawless, the senior editor of L&L, who has been editing scientific and educational publications for 20 years. With this column, we hope to offer a
lively sampling of “overheard” conversations, tips, insights, classroom projects, and tools for professional development that are shared through the blogosphere.