Adventures (Minus the Sleepovers) in Sexism in Education Technology
I wrote what is easily the most important, intense blog post I’ve ever written. The outreach from the education, technology, and educational technology sectors has been astounding. I’ve cried reading some of the stories women have started sharing with me about their experiences. Sexism and rape culture is a very real problem in edtech and education, and it clearly has been receiving too little attention. I just hope we can this as an opportunity for reflection, healing, and progress, and that we all can start incorporating empathy into our practices.
Note: It’s a bit of a dark read and might/should make you uncomfortable. I did my best to keep it light, but there’s only so much one can do considering the subject matter.
Let’s Skip the Professional Development: Because No One Says “Let’s Create Lifelong Students”
This week, I’ve been writing my Statement of Purpose for a graduate school application- with a theme about learners versus students- and having conversations around teacher feedback for education technology company product development. So it seems fitting that I should stumble across this today:
I find there are still learners and students. The learners search for information on how to use the tools, play around with them and experiment in the classroom. The students wait for a training session or workshop, attend them, complete assignments but there is not a significant change in the use of the tools.
One conversation I had recently was with a teacher-turned-entrepreneur about getting teachers more meaningfully engaged in education technology feedback. In our conversation one thing that really stood out was her assertion that we need to give teachers professional development so that they can learn how to give useful feedback to companies. That assumption rubbed me the wrong way.
Professional development seems to be the go-to for doing new things in the field of education. It never really seems to get questioned more than “Does #edchat do a better job?” It’s telling of the system’s attitude towards learning. It screams “you can only learn if you’re being taught.” It’s a horrible tone for a system that has recently become much more reflective on creating lifelong learners.
Fortunately, some teachers are learners, not just students. They’re already experimenting and giving their feedback, whether you teach them or not.
Nerdy observation from someone who works in edtech:
It is no longer okay to not know how to hook your computer up to the projector. Are you using a computer? Does it need to be hooked up to a projector? Then you need to learn how to do that.
I tried giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the laptop VGA connection is missing or hidden. Maybe he’s not wise enough to know he can unhook the VGA cable from that doc camera, or even the computer in the workstation to his left (and use that for his laptop instead). Maybe he forgot the dongle he needs to hook up his Mac. But if none of those things are true, then this type of nonsense is just not okay.
As someone who actually wants to work in edtech, it’s actually really sad to have to say these kinds of observations. It’s sad that being able to connect a laptop to a projector to show a PowerPoint/Keynote (or Prezi- but please, God, no Prezi) is considered instructional technology. It should be common sense, not the introduction to an entire field.
And if it’s a PowerPont/Keynote, he should know what’s he’s presenting on well enough to be able to lecture about it (or pitch) without having to use slides.
Even more interesting is the idea of an education-focused GitHub.
I love his points about culture, and how the conversation isn’t just about hacking, but about anything intellectually stimulating. There should be more communities like that.
As educators we are constantly trying to spark our student’s “intellectual curiosity”. Many of us have sought out to spark our colleagues’ intellectual curiosity as well through social media sharing. However, what makes Hacker News so special is the community within this simple site…
The list could go on, but I think the point is clear. If we want education to continue to move forward we all need to get on board with sharing, collaborating, and discussing best and next practices. I’m thrilled that thousands of educators around the world have been doing this for years, and I know how many of us want this type of open culture to be “our culture”
I think the one point he misses is wanting it to be an educator only community. Yes, there is a lot to be said for sharing lesson plans and advice, but those communities already exist. What’s missing is a place where everyone involved in the education community: edtech hackers, entrepreneurs, administrators, counselors, students, parents, designers, bloggers, etc., could engage in conversations, collaborate, and share resources. That’s the other thing about the hacking community, they realize that it’s not just programmers that make an excellent hacking community. It also takes designers, marketers, business experts, and more to make a lively community that creates a lot of great products. Education needs more of that.
Our open, publicly-funded public school system, deeply woven into the fabric of our open, freedom- and innovation-loving society, is the gem in the crown of America that people from around the world for decades have tried to replicate…
Poverty, hunger, homelessness, parents who are ineffective or unable to parent – these are all analog problems kids have that need the help of other people, not only computers, to solve. What Gene Marks and other Silicon Valley “edupreneurs” forget is that we live in a complicated three-dimensional world that doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet or a computer screen. Digital bootstraps aren’t enough; to help all the nation’s kids we need lifelines offered face to face to real kids, from a person who cares in their neighborhood schools.”