Get Out of Your Own Way: Closing the Diversity Gap in EdTech


I just sat down at the Blogger’s cafe´at ISTE 2016 amongst some common Twitter acquaintances known as the #Educolor movement. Their mission is to close the diversity gap in Educational Technology by raising awareness across the country.

It’s funny. I’ve been thinking about the diversity gap since I’ve been in Denver this week. Lunch today was confirmation that I have a voice and I’m going to raise awareness among my readers.

Below, are three major barriers (in my opinion), and these barriers lie within us! Once we break these within ourselves, THEN we can look at the outside obstacles that hinder diversity in EdTech.

Mindset

Technology isn’t just for geeks, nerds, recluses, or the majority. It’s no longer an optional skill to pick up. It’s a necessity for survival for all races and personality types.

Each year, I come home from this conference, excited and talking about the Twitter connections I’ve made, blogging, and trending practices in EdTech, only to be met with shaking heads and blank stares from many…

Note to self: Joan, check YOUR mindset. I realize that it has a lot to do with exposure and what a person seeks to accomplish with social media and technology in their professional practices. However, I would like to be a change-agent that leads people to the reality that we are living in a time warp.

For example, educators often rely solely on the school district to provide all the training we need in order to learn new things. Honestly, I have learned more from the people I follow on Twitter than I ever have in a year’s worth of  workshops at work. I am not saying that those sessions are any less than invaluable. However, if that’s my only learning source as a professional, I essentially limit the number of people I can learn from in a given school year to about 10 fairly local presenters (in a good situation) compared to the thousands I have access to on social media. Those thousands are a part of my personal learning network (PLN), and @jovan367 is a part of theirs.

Fear

I hate to use the cliche´, “People fear what they don’t understand,” but I just did. I have discovered that if I’m coaching teachers and my dialogue is way over the top, instead of encouraging them to want to learn what I know, I scare them. Their minds go into auto pilot because they cannot envision themselves diving that deeply into the technology. This morning, I talked with Dr. Boni Hamilton, author of Integrating Technology in the Classroom. She gave me a signed copy of her book and some very useful advice:

“You have to find out first what teachers are comfortable with. If they can only use their phones, then ask, ‘What kind of apps are available for your phone that can help you with instruction?’ or if they like taking pictures and know how to use a digital camera well, ask, ‘How can pictures benefit or enhance your lesson or learning outcomes for your students?’ They don’t care about what you know, Joan… They want to know how to use what they already know more effectively, first.”

Desire

Let me say this: If we can lurk around on Facebook and search for all the good gossip, see who’s fooling around with whom, and screenshot that information and share it with any and everyone else, then we certainly can lurk on professional, educational, and creative user pages, twitter profiles, and Pinterest pins, screenshot and share THOSE things and actually use social media as a learning tool in the process (I think I heard somebody say “PREACH!”).

I digress. To each his own. I just want you to know that you already have the skills. It’s all about using those same skills when it comes to your personal learning (if you choose to).

So, Brian Smith from lunch walked up to me about four paragraphs ago and said,

“I just read your post from your tweet about writing a letter to your former self…Truly AMAZING. I loved it.”

That’s what makes it all worth it to me.

If I can help anyone become more comfortable with technology, drop me a line. I’m @jovan367 on every social media platform, and Joan Sharpe on Facebook. I’d be glad to assist! That reminds me, I’ve gotta get my auntie on Facebook when I get back to NC! If you see her around tell her I’m working on it!

Come again, and remember that your feedback keeps me writing! Take care.

 

 

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