#EdChat Summary: 11-1-11

Topic: Is the rift often found between IT people and classroom teachers a real issue? How do we address this issue?

Right from the outset, I could tell that this was going to be an intense discussion.  Think about it:  what are the two types of people that participate in #edchat?  1) Educators and 2) tech specialists with an education background.  Talk about pitting the two primary participant groups against each other!  The potential for this to turn into my first #edfight seemed very real.

Then again, a willingness to log onto Twitter and plug into something as intense as #edchat shows that you’re the type of person who doesn’t just jump to conclusions and speak without thinking.  If you did, you’d be using your free time for almost anything besides #edchat and Teacher Lingo blogs.

Although you could tell that tempers were slightly aroused and egos bruised from time to time (I call ‘em like I sees ‘em), the discussion was high-level, on-topic, and highly insightful.  After all, what would you expect from #edchat?

If I had to summarize the outcome of the discussion in one paragraph, it would be this:

Quite often, teachers and IT forget that they’re both playing for the same side and on equal footing.  Both sides are guilty of this, although each individual circumstance is different.  The key to bringing both teachers and the IT department closer is communication, like in any relationship.  Teachers should not be intimidated by “tech speak” and IT staff should not be intimidated by teachers’ degrees or tenure.  The best way to make this happen is to begin a conversation before something is broken in the classroom.  The challenge, of course, is to find time for this extra communication, as both sides are already overworked.

The most interesting sub-discussion (in my own humble opinion) was over who should be in charge of organizing this conversation between teachers and IT – and who should be in charge of finding and adopting new edtech for the school.  The consensus seemed to be that it was the administration’s job to facilitate discussion between a school’s faculty, and that it most cases a sort of “tech liaison” was appointed to discover new edtech resources.  I think both these solutions make sense.

The other interesting thing I noticed was that both sides seemed just as capable of being intimidated by the other.  This is, in actuality, a very common source of misunderstandings and a stiff, unwelcoming culture.  Often, simply remembering the old saying “they’re as scared of you as you are of them” is enough to overcome it.

Hopefully this is what most other participants in the discussion took away from it.  Of course, the actual conversation went into much more detail and off on many more tangents.  You can check out an archive of the conversation here (it wasn’t available yet when I wrote this post but I’m sure it will be up by the time this is published), courtesy of @jswiatek.

Check back here next Wednesday morning for my summary of next week’s #edchat, and please leave a comment if you have any feedback at all.  This is my first #edchat summary, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was expected of me and what resources were available to me.  But I hope to continue!

Also, check out our discussion group on LinkedIn: EduTech Trends, Visions, and Passions if you just can’t get enough #edchat.  I post a new topic there every day, and it’s always open for your comments and discussions.

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