Yep! Go Ahead and groan! It’s ok. I can take it!
But, before you remove your eyes from the screen and defenestrate your laptop, tablet, or monitor (for those few who still have a desktop), answer me this: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO UNCOMFORTABLE THAT YOU WERE HOPING TO CONTRACT LEGIONNAIRE’S DISEASE TO STAY HOME?
Ok… now, I got your attention (I hope).
I hate crowds. I hate meeting new people. And, I hate new environments. Yet, in spite of all my loathings, I took a risk and went to my first EDTECH HACK NIGHT this past Wednesday. Not being a hacker, a coder, a developer, I imagined I would be sitting alone, looking despondent, and wishing for that stomach bug to come right on. Or worse, I would be sitting with all the other “non-techies” (if there are such people), which would have looked very similar to the members sitting at Table 9 of “The Wedding Singer.”
So, why did I go? Why did I go?
As a teacher who incorporates a lot of technology into the classroom, I am fascinated as to how there are so many edtech companies producing amazing products for MY students (yes, I realize that other students use them, but I will be selfish and focus on MY students). I love seeing my kids tinker with the new product. I get a thrill working with the developers offering suggestions to better their product and to learn about the process of developing the software.
Yet, why did I go? Why did I go?
Sponsored by LearnLaunch, this Hack night was for coders and non-coders to create and network. I am a teacher with no coding skills (among others that I lack). But, since I have become an edtechie (which I proclaim as a new word and a promotion from being a Trekkie) I am intrigued by all that is out there. And I imagined that some edtech CEO would say, “Hey! You have so much knowledge about teaching and using technology! I want to offer you a job that pays 3x what you are making as a teacher (which means I can actually afford my car payments) and give you the opportunity to create!”
I also imagined driving to the event in my new sleek black BMW… yet, alas, I drove my mini-van.
I took a deep breath and walked into the room. I was nervous… sweating… and trying not to let on that I was sweating. I took another deep breath and sat down. From there… the evening took off… and so did I.
No, I didn’t leave… I stayed…. in fact, I didn’t want to leave! I met so many cool people and learned about upcoming and new technologies that will help students and teachers. Steve from LearnBolt, David & Lee from Testive, Boris from LearnLaunchx - each of them were so passionate about what they were creating and wanted to learn from ME! ME?! How do I teach? How I use technology? How I get buy in from stakeholders? They wanted to know. And, they actually listened!
I came out pumped! Ready to take on the world. My mind was racing with so many ideas and follow ups. Most importantly, I came to the realization as to why edtech fuels me: it’s the relationships!
The teacher & edtech developer/CEO relationship… it’s very much like a ying/yang or symbiotic relationship. Both have passions – to help students ( for the developer it could be through the software for kids to use, for teachers to use, or both. For the teacher, it’s meeting their students’ needs and engaging in the students’ interests). Yet the passion stems from the same place – wanting to help students (be it from their own experiences or experiences of others). The teacher has the direct experience and knowledge and the developer/CEO has the tech and leadership know how to produce the product. One can’t exist without the other. We need teachers who are willing to hear the developers’ dreams and vision and try out the product, give feedback, and collaborate to not only develop the product but also promote it and market it to other teachers. In turn, I (and other teachers) need edtech developers who want to test out their products and hear my experience, vision and dreams to help better the product to meet students’ needs. Because of this collaboration, we are seeing a huge Precambrian explosion of how developers & teachers are shifting the learning experiences of the primary stakeholders – the students. Through technology teachers and edtech developers can connect, collaborate, and make the richest most meaningful learning environments for our future – that is, the children.
None of these would be possible without the combined collaboration of edtech dev. & teachers… all pointing to one thing… the human connection.
My energy level is still sky high and my passion for edtech and teaching grew exponentially.
So, why did I go? Why did I go?
I’ll tell you why… wait, I just told you!