And in the beginning… (U4)

Where to even start? As they say in yoga, start where you are. I cannot consume all of the information in the universe. I don’t know if it’s even desirable, even it was possible. At the same time, I won’t limit my own personal experience or expertise to a small corner in the bustling metropolis that is teaching and technology. (I’ll try not to torture or mix any more metaphors, sorry.) There are a lot of excellent tech-savvy educators in my (growing) PLN, and I know they can help me and hopefully I can help them solve problems and ultimately help our audiences (students, teachers, administrators, and parents).

EdTech, digital learning coordinators, technology coaches, etc. – none of these things existed 29 years ago when I graduated high school and started college. The Internet was barely the Internet, and Tim Berners-Lee had just created the markup language (HTML) for the World Wide Web. I didn’t even get to see the web until 1993, and that’s probably pretty early for most people.

I’m not taking a stroll down memory lane to humble-brag about my experience with technology and the web. I’ve met some real geeks and I’m a baby geek in comparison. That’s not false modesty. I’m just amazed that something which didn’t exist in the public sphere about 30 years ago is now one of the greatest driving forces in my life besides my personal relationships, many of which I’ve formed, maintained, and enhanced through this recently-created resource. Not only wouldn’t this field exist without the Internet (do we still capitalize it?), but most of the jobs I’ve had in the last 25 years wouldn’t have existed either, I wouldn’t be married to the person I’m married to, and I wouldn’t be working as a teacher or working in Seoul. Technology has enhanced my life and I want to spread the love.

But as much as technology and the Internet have given to me and the rest of society, it serves us, not the other way around. It’s not an end unto itself, at least for the end users and coaches. We’re geeks, but we’re not computer scientists, we’re coaches. And as coaches, we’re supposed to help people help themselves, not play the game for them.

So why am I here, in COETAIL 11? I’m still evolving, and my principles about teaching/coaching technology as it relates to our audiences is also still evolving. From everything I’ve read and heard, COETAIL has the best path to help me follow my guiding principles, which are:

Technology should help us and our audiences make it possible to…

  • …do what we already do, but more easily.
  • …do things we only imagined were possible.
  • …do things we never even imagined were possible.

I’m pretty much an auto-didactic geek, spending countless hours from high school on up playing with the tools and presentation languages to do those three things above. This is a fun way to learn, but it is incredibly inefficient. Now that I’m a teacher, it’s clear that time is the most precious resource in the universe. I have to assess people’s needs, their current capabilities, and the pros and cons of the tools available to them in order to make good judgments about what to teach, how to teach, and sometimes whether to teach at all. For our audiences, the pain of learning something new must be worth it to them (not just to the administration), the benefits must be very obvious to them (not just to the IT/EdTech departments), and we must communicate those benefits to our audiences in terms they understand very clearly.

I’m not bad at any of those things, I just want to be excellent at them.

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4 Comments

  1. Colin, it will be great to see where this learning journey takes you! How do you plan to assess the “tech needs” of teachers?

    1. Thanks! Given your recommendation that I consider COETAIL, I’ll give you some of the credit if this goes well and all of the blame if it doesn’t. j/k I’m excited and looking forward to the course work given the highly relevant certificate titles. I have a little catching up to do (just a week’s worth I think), but I think I’ll do ok.
      ‘How do you plan to assess the “tech needs” of teachers?’
      That’s a good question! I’m sure SFS has its own processes and the relevant documents to go along with them. I’d love to see them if you can share them with me. I did a quick search for “assessing teachers technology needs” and came up with some interesting results. I’m sure my COETAIL courses will teach me what questions to ask and how to ask them so I can create good technology needs forms. I do like some of the following pages through and would like to talk with you about the strengths and weaknesses of them when you have time:
      link to er.educause.edu
      link to panopto.com

  2. I find the desire to evolve & continually become better at teaching and learning is a core philosophy of COETAILers…glad you’re adding your passion to our community!

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