I was invited to be on a panel at Northeastern University (I was a last minute fill-in but happy to attend) talking about Teaching With Technology. Now the difference between teaching technology and teaching with technology is a big one. And important one. I’m big on both but honestly think that teaching with technology is a better way to teach technology than teaching technology for its own sake. The panel was taking and discussion questions based in large part on the keynote presentation by Don Marinelli from Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center which Don co-founded with the late Randy Pausch.
We had an hour scheduled for the discussion but we could have gone for hours. Really hours without repeating or running out of questions and discussion topics. The discussion was lively and, for me at least, very engaging. I see this with just about any panel I attend either in the audience or as a panelist. I also see “more time to network and talk with colleagues” as a major bit of feedback for most of the educational conferences I am aware of. If you’ve been to some of the major edtech conferences (TCEA and ISTE for example) you will see long conversations in the halls, outside the meeting rooms, at blogger cafe’s and just about any free space. People blog and twitter about these conversations being the best part about some conferences.
Why? Because teachers just don’t have enough time to talk with their peers in their daily work lives. Yet talking with ones peers is a wonderful way to learn new things, share ideas, ask weird but useful questions, and generally develop oneself as a person and as a professional. But teachers are locked up isolated in their classrooms most of the day. faculty lounges while occasionally helpful have limitations. Too little time in them for one thing. Too many other things going on it them. And all too often a slightly toxic atmosphere in the schools that could most benefit for helpful learning.
So what to do? I recommend blogging and twitter. Yes you have heard this from me before (well unless you are new to my blog. :-)) If you are looking for a more scholarly set of reasoning check out Rationalizing Academic Blogging by Mark Guzdial who is a tenured professor at Georgia Tech. Start with reading them and adding your input to the discussions. Really the comments are often the very best part of a blog post – especially with this blog. Then think about writing your own blog. You know stuff or you wouldn’t be a teacher – share it with others. Come on and join the conversations. You know you want to!
Michelle Hutton of the CSTA posted a good blog roll at the CSTA blog. You are following the CSTA blog right? For teachers in all areas there is a great list of blogs at the Moving Forward wiki. Start with Education blogs by Discipline and when you create your blog make sure you add it to the list.
BTW I have just updated my personal blog roll on the side of my blog. The CS Teacher list includes:
Agreed. Participating in a net-community is great for all teachers, but even more critical for CS teachers because (a) usually they're the only ones teaching CS in their school, and few other teachers or even department heads understand the subject, much less have any constructive ideas for the CS classroom, etc... and (b) CS changes so rapidly that you need the community to help you stay current.
I have jumped on the blogging bandwagon. If you are interested in random comments on CS Ed from a HS CS educator, the state of the Union, the meaning of life, and whatever else I have to say check out http://gflint.wordpress.com/. It is not brilliant, it just is.
Subscribed! Looking forward to reading what you have to say.