Educational Technologists: It’s OUR Time

Image via CrunchBase

This weekend I watched “The Social Network,” the quasi-factual story of how Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook and the ensuing litigation involved with its success. It’s a story of friendship, betrayal, creativity, and how technology is moving us faster and faster in directions we never imagined. In one scene of the movie, Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster, can hardly contain his excitement when talking to Zuckerberg about Facebook’s future. “It’s OUR time,” Parker says, meaning that Zuckerberg can and should be in control of his Facebook idea. He’s saying that anyone who has an idea, no matter what their age or situation, can make it happen. And, of course, the story of Facebook illustrates that if you have an incredibly good idea and take action on it, you can make it happen, even in the face of tremendous odds.

But why am I telling you this? Because I believe that for educational technologists and anyone willing to use technology in new and creative ways to improve teaching and learning, that it’s our time, too. Because we passionately follow technology trends, because we are willing to take chances and make mistakes, because we believe we can accomplish what we want even if we don’t have a clear, complete road map at the time, we can make a difference and we can make progress, taking advantage of the opportunities that are abundantly out there for all of us.

As teachers, you are faced with tremendous challenges when using technology. You may be limited in the number of computers you have in the classroom and want more. How are you going to get those computers? You’ll need to create the need, along with a unshakable rationale for this purchase, get the money somewhere–from a grant, from your school, from corporate sponsors–and make it happen.

What if you want to show YouTube videos, but your school blocks that content? You’ll need to prepare a coherent and compelling case for allowing YouTube (and other tools, such as blogging software). If you meet roadblocks along the way, you’ll need to keep pushing forward, to the next level up, until you get what you want.

In the meantime, you should help your school plan for technology needs, providing information on technology trends (use the 2010 Horizon Report to guide your presentation), and propose feasible ways your school and district can provide the technology tools needed for today’s students. You can identify ways to save money for your school (how about using Google Apps instead of spending money on Microsoft Office licenses or purchasing one of the new interactive projectors instead of a SmartBoard?), implement collaborative, engaging opportunities for student learning (blogging platforms for students to write and publish, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds for class discussions, Kindle reader and other ebook platforms for students to engage in conversations about readings), and integrate  professional learning networks (PLNs) for teachers (Facebook groups, WordPress blogs, LinkedIn networks) to continue their professional development and learning.

These are just a few of a multitude of ways you can make a difference in your school and the education of our children. As a technology advocate for the effective use of technology in our schools, I can’t think of a better way to apply the notion, “It’s our time.”

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