Monday, January 6, 2014

EdTech Do's & Don'ts Challenge for 2014

     With the start of a New Year we think about the idea of trying new things, making changes, & focusing on self-improvement. Then somehow by February we are usually already thinking about Spring Break and wondering if we will make it!

This year I encourage you to capture this small window of time and allow me to suggest some DO's & DON'TS for 2014. Let's encourage each other to own this coming year. In reality we only get so many and each one is an opportunity for us to live, learn, and inspire, so make the most of it!

DO read a new blog (or perhaps read a blog for the first time). It is not as hard as you might think, in fact most blogs even allow email subscription to have new articles delivered right to your email.

DON'T stop learning. Add to your knowledge base daily. Tom Clancy said "Life is about learning, when you stop learning, you die." Take advantage of conferences, workshops, and webinar's that might be available. You might just discover something really great!

DO take a MOOC course. I have a love/hate relationship with MOOC's. I love that they make learning for the sake of learning free and accessible to the masses, I hate that some tried to sell them as the future of HigherEd which then led to a perceived failure. If your interested I recommend Coursera, as it is the best of the major MOOC's in my opinion. MOOC's are free and you can pick a topic that interests you, then you can decide for yourself what you think of MOOC's.

DON'T judge Online Learning based off MOOC's. That would be like comparing cafeteria food with home-made lasagna (assuming your wife is a good cook like mine). As mentioned above, MOOC's are not the end all be all as often marketed. For starters online learning is not for everyone, but MOOC's are great for learning. Accept them for what they are, but understand that mass production creates voids and well designed online learning can be so much more.

DO create a Twitter account. If you haven't yet, just give it a shot to see what the fuss is about. If it's not for you, then at least you experienced it.

DON'T give up too soon. What if Lincoln had given up before Gettysburg, what if the Wright brothers gave up before Kitty Hawk, what if John Elway had given up after four Superbowls? The point being, sometimes when things seem at their worst is just about the time they'll get better if we continue to pursue.

DO ask for an Educators 101 tour of _________. Don't be like the dads of america (guilty) and try to go it alone without any instruction or direction. Ask a colleague who is already plugged in to show you the ropes. Fill in the blank with interactive whiteboard, e-learning, twitter, mobile devices, learning objectives, bull riding, or anything else, just ask.

DON'T be afraid to ask for help. For those hesitant to ask the colleague next door for fear of looking clueless try that Twitter account. Why is twitter great, because you have the world's largest PLN for educators at your fingertips and they are willing to help if you will only ask.

DO share your knowledge with others. In a time where competing test scores, evaluations, & pressure from administration causes some to withdraw & setup defenses. Remember why you were drawn to be an educator. Share, educate, & inspire not only your students, but your colleagues as well.

DON'T complain because it is easier. Take the road less traveled. Be thankful for the blessings and have a positive outlook in 2014. At any point in time we could always complain about what could be better...or we can be thankful for what we have and do the best to impact the factors we can control.

DO say thank you when others least expect it. The saying goes "a rising tide lifts all ships." Appreciate those around you and you might just find yourself to be more appreciated. What do you have to lose, give it a shot...and if you do, let me be the first to say Thank You!

DON'T just affirm your own position. Challenge yourself and widen your perspective by hearing multiple viewpoints. If you are pro-edtech then don't bypass conservative articles weary of technology. Likewise, if you are weary of educational technology don't just feed yourself negative views & hunker down. Seek out positive articles that show benefits and practical uses that you might just be able to apply.

The truth is, Educational Technology should flow seamlessly and be interwoven in the educational landscape. Tech is not the savior of education, but it is also not the demon out to destroy your educational soul. The truth lies somewhere in between. Individual programs & devices may be here today & gone tomorrow, but don't let the uncertainty discourage you. Technology supported learning in general is here to stay. If you continue to hunker down in 2014 and try to let this tech/eLearning wave pass by, you might just find that you'll never make it to shore. Catch the wave and don't be afraid to have fun along the way, there are a lot of people on it that are more than happy to help.

Enjoy 2014, make it a worthwhile year!