Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twitter Dee Tweeter Dum: A Look at #ISTE20

A few disclaimers:

Twitter, despite its claim that it "
is without a doubt the best way to share and discover what is happening right now," cannot capture the synergism generated at a conference, especially for those of us sitting thousands of miles away.

ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education--this is a techie, not teachie, convention, so perhaps I expect too much.

Denver is the Mile High city--lower air pressure means fewer oxygen molecules per breath. Fewer oxygen molecules ->less efficient cellular respiration -> tired brain cells -> pablum.

So take this with a grain of salt and a shot of good Irish.

I am following the ISTE 2010 convention peripherally via Twitter and bloggers, and while I am sure amazing things have happened there (I've never left a conference without adding a superlative or two to my vocabulary), my twisted, twittered view (Twisttered©?) shudders at the pablum passing for profundity proffered by professionals.

Here's a list of some of the TOP 3 retweets at #ISTE10 as of this morning. Really, you could look it up:

Technology doesn't improve education, it changes it......
TEACHERS improve education.

a) This is a testable hypothesis. Go to a modern high school. Sit by a classroom door while you send your sidekick--you have a sidekick, no?--down the scary custodian basement to kill the power. Observe teachers as they bemoan their fate.

"I can't teach without lights! Without PowerPoint! Without my SMARToard! Without pencils!"

OK, the last one doesn't need power, but it's still a technological advance.

b) Why the either/or? Why not pry open our brains a crack and consider that both teachers and technology improve education. It's like saying Wheels don't improve cars....ENGINES improve cars.

c) Our paranoia is showing--screaming "TEACHERS" doesn't make us look terribly suave, not that that's our goal, but still, why not let go of the self-righteous anger. We have a pretty good gig. It's getting even better with the new tech tools in our toy box.

77% of all future jobs will require tech skills.

Pure pablum.

a) If by tech skills you mean anything that requires a tool, well, then 77% is too low--unless 13% of the jobs will be Walmart greeters.

b) "Future" is a long, long time, so this statement isn't even falsiable even if it made sense.

c) 77%? I mean really, this is the exact number we used in medicine during rounds--if you want something to sound highish and scientific, you said 77%. If you wanted a lowish number, you said 23%. No one ever challenges "77%" and "23%"--until now. SHOW ME THE DATA!!!! (I asked multiple times via Twitter--I was ignored.)

The killer app for 21st Century learning is a good teacher
This one is a real crowd-pleaser! Wow, we're the killer apps of all time! We're one with the machine!

Get a grip--we're reducing ourselves to technological techno-babble now. We are not apps, we are human. This was still obvious in the 20th century, back when centuries were not capitalized.

When you go home, take a deep breath of real air, take a nap, pour yourself some coffee, then go peruse #ISTE10 on Twitter.

If the best of the best are this confused, God help the rest of us....


Russ Goerend said...

I had no idea you were so interested in something you're not interested in, Doyle.



John Spencer said...

I would love to see, just once, for a literal killer app to be available on a SmartPhone. Perhaps a red phone app? Or maybe just a set of nun-chucks.

doyle said...

Dear Russ,

I am absolutely enchanted with high technology, even used to teach a computer class in the early 90's--scary, huh?

I am far more interested, however, in what we do with the tools, and how the tools ultimately affect us.

I am even more interested in how learning works, and why we teach, both at a personal and social level.

ISTE 2010 matters because a lot of people with a lot of agendas (and power and money) are watching. It also matters because lots of bright people get together to share ideas.

What we didn't need was a party like it's 1999....

doyle said...

Dear John,

Don't even kid about that--I'm sure it's coming.

Turns out the phones may be killing the bees, so for them the SmartPhone is a killer app.

Russ Goerend said...

All right, you hooked me.

What we didn't need was a party like it's 1999....

Who is the we here? The people who attended? The people watching from home? I'm sure this will come off apologetic, but, like I said on Twitter the other day, I paid for a day ISTE strictly to meet people. Can't I decide what I do with my time while at the conference? Are you just disappointed in the choices folks that attended are making?

I am far more interested, however, in what we do with the tools, and how the tools ultimately affect us.

We agree on a pretty deep level. My brother-in-law and I led an ISTEunplugged session titled "Is 1:1 Enough?"

Unfortunately, the archive of the session isn't up yet. I'd be interested in your thoughts. I'll pass along the link to the archive once I find it.

I'm planning on posting a reflection of my couple of days at ISTE. The gist is that it was expectedly about the tools. You covered it precisely when you wrote: this is a techie, not teachie, convention, so perhaps I expect too much. I wasn't expecting teachie, but I was hoping for more of it.


doyle said...

Dear Russ,

Good Lord, I'm trying to read your blog(s) and you keep chirping in with impertinence.


1) The reason to go to a conference, first and foremost, is to meet people. I get that. It's why I go to conferences. It's why I get green-eyed when I don't.

If the #1 Retweet was "I go to conferences to share great thoughts, ale, and noogies with great people" I'd have kept quiet. Maybe.

I was writing specifically about 3 Retweets. I can be pathetically trivial.

2)I'd have no problem with leaving it alone as a techie conference--and I am a fool in love with high tech toys--but the noise coming from Twitter kept reflecting an edginess, I suspect from teachers fearing the technology. If I sucked at teaching, I'd fear it, too.

I will dive into your archives when they're up.

(Your words about you and Henry are a joy to read....)

Russ Goerend said...

I get your 2 points. Makes sense.

I did have an interesting conversation with Scott Mcleod at one point. We were talking about teach vs. tech ("vs." for lack of a better term) and I just noted that as a nerdy 2nd-year teacher it's much easier for me feel comfortable talking tech than talking pedagogy. I love listening to pedagogy conversations, and I jump in when I feel comfortable (like the podcast I do with my brother-in-law Matt Townsley), but I definitely don't feel like any sort of expert.

So, even though I don't think I "suck at teaching," I find refuge (as opposed to fear) in technology.


erinnash said...

I was secretly glad to read that nothing I had posted had made your list.

Just to defend my learning a little bit - here are a couple of things that stuck out to me.

At one of my sessions with Ian Jukes, he didn't throw out percentages in regard to future occupations; rather, he stated that the one job class that was on the rise was the "creative" class.

Taken from a keynote from his site, the Committed Sardine:

The Four Classes
In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida says you can divide American workers
into four basic groups:

Agricultural Class— In 1900, almost 40 percent of workers were involved in agriculture. Today,
that’s down to less than 2 percent.

Working Class — These are the classic manufacturing jobs. These jobs peaked right after
World War II and have been in steady decline ever since.

Service Class— The service professions, or helping professions, peaked in 1980 and are now shrinking primarily because of the personal computer.

Creative Class— These are people who do nonroutine cognitive work and apply abstract skills on
a regular basis.

Out of all of these classes, it seems the one that we prepare our students for the least is the Creative Class, and this is one area where I can see technology (not just paper and pencils)being an aid.

I got "wet my pants" excited about the programming application, Scratch, in one of my sessions today. I am hoping I will be able to teach myself to effectively release this to my students. Check out this link here:

If I could get my students to come even half as close as some of these are, I really would wet my pants in excitement.

Anyhow - thanks for your thoughts - excellent as always.

doyle said...

Dear Russ,

I've no doubt you don't suck at teaching--anyone who cares about kids and reflects on his practices is either on his way to becoming a fine teacher, or gets out of the field.

I find refuge in tech, too, perhaps too much--it's an easy place to hide.

Thanks for striking up the conversation--look forward to more....

doyle said...

Dear Erin,

I saw Ian last year--a wonderful presenter, and personable as well. He follows up on personal email, too--he's the real deal.

I saw McLeod speak via skype on the rise of the creative class. I still question the numbers a bit--the service class I think will trump all as we bumble our way to a two-tiered society. The creative class thrives when there's money (or credit) floating around.

Non-routine cognitive abstract work is indeed critical, but much of it requires a brain more mature than most children have before 9th or 10th grade. Schools are not good at developing this side, and unfortunately the focus on classroom management may (in some cases) work against developing thoughtful students.

I may need to go tweak the post--I love your words, and that anyone worried that I might be targeting them reminds me I need to tame my snarkiness a bit.

I'll take a look at Scratch and get back to you.

And I do wish I got to meet folks like you and Russ and Sean and many others.