It’s been less than two years since I started my edtech journey. Before that, I was just a teacher looking for ways to give my students the technology they demanded without having a tech budget. Today, I’m in love with edtech. I’ve crossed the line. I’m one of them now.
In my pre-tech mind, students using smartphones to take pictures of assignments on the board, or kids setting alarms for projects would have been a tech revolution. I had no idea what lie ahead. I didn’t even have a vocabulary to express what I wanted. I’d never heard the word “edtech,” and I had to look up what a “start up guy” was. I was totally green.
I’d never known teachers who controlled their own technology. We had dusty platforms in the computer lab students didn’t want, and that was that. I, myself, had one failed attempt at a wiki, and there was no BYOD. If you’d asked me what the “D” was, I’d have thought someone spelled “B” wrong and told them they’d better not have any “B” because they weren’t 21. Diving into tech was a whole new world. A rabbit hole. A matrix–I took the red pill. I haven’t come back.
Edtech’s been a complete game changer for me in terms of the people I’ve met, the skills I’ve learned, and the outlook I have on life–not only in my classroom, but personally as well. There’s such an attitude of “vision,” and “can-do” that it permeates every aspect of my thinking. I learn to take more risks, innovate solutions, and I teach my students the same.
Many times teachers hesitate to take the first steps into tech. It may seem intimidating, but I started from ground zero. I feel confident if I can be in the world of tech, you can, too, even if you’re not too sure about what to do with all this. Thankfully, there are entire PLNs, professional learning networks, of teachers out there in techland to help. I can just hop on Twitter and someone’s available to answer a question or support me in my learning. There’s always someone out there doing something better than me ready to share. You can do this!
I know I’ve come a long way. Here are six ways to know if you have, too. If these apply to you, congratulations! You’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, too.
You Have T-Shirts
Everyone gives you a t-shirt for everything. “Happy Birthday.” Here’s a commemorative t-shirt. Happy Hour. T-shirt. EdCamp. T-shirt. When I first encountered tech people, I was invited to an event which was free if you donated old t-shirts. I didn’t understand the big deal about t-shirts. Now, I do. I have a truckload. If you can fill more than one drawer with tech t-shirts, congratulations. You’ve arrived.
You Know The Lingo
You “ping” people, use your phone for everything besides talking, and have replaced your mom bossing you around with Google. Alarms and calendars rule your life. You know what a “start-up” is without having to ask, “start up what?” You know your CEOs from your CTO’s and no longer require Rosetta Stone before chatting with another tech person. Your conversation contains more acronyms than words. You reduce your emails from paragraphs to sentence fragments, and you wish bad karma on those who overuse “reply all.” You don’t even call your grandmother without first responding to her calendar invite.
You Read The Stuff
You get through Buzzfeed Top Sixty over your second cup of morning coffee, peruse TechCrunch, and wind down with a bit of Mashable. You know it’s great to be featured in EdSurge and not so great being in ValleyWag. You get Good and Upworthy in your box since the world stinks, and of course, you read all the EdTech publications. Edudemic, Edutopia, EdSurge, EdTechReview–and you can tell them all apart. You may even contribute to one or know someone who does. You certainly retweet their stuff.
You Know Blended Learning Isn’t A Recipe
It’s a way of life. It’s something that makes you realize that life can be more productive as a teacher and more engaging as a student. You know your apps from your platforms, and even if your school is blocks stuff you want to use, you use the Marine Corps motto “adapt and overcome” to find a solution. You find the things your students use and convert them to educational purposes. You make magic happen. You beta test. You blog. You poll. You quiz. You measure. You share. You do virtual tours of the world. You remember, “It wasn’t like this when I was in school,” and you know that’s a good thing.
At Least Half of Your Friends Have Started, Or Are Thinking Of Starting An Edtech Startup
When you meet people, you forget their names and instead remember their companies. You say “Congratulations on your seed funding,” rather than “Nice to meet you.” Every card you exchange says “co-founder” this or “entrepreneur,” that and when you meet another tech teacher–most normal teachers don’t have business cards–they not only have cards but their card says “Edtech Entrepreneur” rather than “Joe Smith. Math.”
Someone You Meet Says, “I know you. I follow you on Twitter!”
No one knows your name. They only know you by Twitter handle or blog. This is the surest sign of all you’re in tech.
If you’re not yet there, just snickering at the odd behaviors of your t-shirted EdCamp blending learning peers, don’t dismay! Jump in. Try something out. Make a Learnist board for a unit. Set up a class blog, tweet. If you’re still hesitating, reach out to any tech teacher you know. If you don’t know one, then reach out to me @runningdmc. We’ll get you up and running. Then, in a very short time, you, like me, can smile on your journey, and pass your knowledge on to the next wave of teachers coming down the road.