The Release Day: Emo Edition

or: Not Volunteering For Anything Ever Again

Things picked up for about an hour. I spoke with Bill Fitzgerald from OpenAcademic who narrated a tour of his DrupalEd, which came closest to the wish list I posted a few days ago. The user roles are well-defined from admin through teacher on to student. Anyone can register, though the new user role doesn’t receive any privileges until the admin validates, which effectively realizes this idea of a “walled garden” which I coined, defined, and copyrighted last post. The tools for teachers range from podcasts, wikis, blogs, social bookmarks.

Things took a sorry turn after 10h00 that release day, though, after Bill stopped holding my hand and I had to coast on my own limited enthusiasm and knowledge. And I swear, the blogosphere just exacerbated things. My mind is wide open on this one. I have been ready to be dazzled for several months now. I have been reading posts on all this for several months now and I have yet to get It.

I have found the wikis scattered and unfocused, the blogs mined with jargon and insider-restricted, capitalized words, neither of which are effective methods for carrying This Thing off the fringes into mainstream education. It’ll never happen this way.

I’m an eager ear but I have yet to understand how School 2.0 would be anything but a noble waste of instructional minutes in my classroom. I have seen precious few practical, iterative steps for employing these emerging technologies. Perhaps the technology is too new to warrant the kind of specificity I’m after, but I haven’t seen much audience identification at all w/r/t the technology that now exists. Maybe things will improve.

I wouldn’t be so emo about not getting It, anyway, if I weren’t scheduled to explain and sell It to my faculty in just under a month. I hope that turns around, both because I’d rather not make a fool of myself and because, if I build the Internet into my practice in any sort of meaningful, non-perfunctory way, the first thing I’ll do is draft the kind of definitive resource — incl. the text, the Keynote slides, the sharp Flash video — that open-minded tech-friendly teachers are currently doing without.

Which brings us to Bill and the ultimate reason why I’ll strap myself into this alpha-release rollercoaster of his. Because what this situation clearly needs is a) a programmer with b) a background in education, who c) feels comfortable around words and microphones.  Lotsa folks have a) or b) — one or the other. I have found c) in depressingly short supply nowadays but Bill’s got all three, the Masters in writing to certify it and, as such, is my best hope of maintaining my dignity during this next staff meeting.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. And D) A business that creates and offers code that schools have the freedom to do what they will with.

    According to their website, OpenAcademic only produces GNU GPL code. Therefore (in this regard at least), their business model respects our freedom to study, share, use for any purpose, and modify the code they offer. It is clear that any school looking to OpenAcademic for help setting up an e-learning environment will not get pinned to any proprietary agreement.

    Of course, there are many other factors that determine whether or not a school should choose business A or business B for help, but any business that lets schools cooperate like this is at least a business worth exploring.

  2. Hey Dan,

    You do know most of the research shows no real benefit to technology, right?

    I’m gonna get slammed for this one.

    Sadly, that’s part of the reason we keep talking about such elusive terms as “engagement” and “21st century skills” because we can’t show research evidence for technology having a benefit.

    It’s not about the technology, it’s about the instructional design. A good lesson is a good lesson whether given using pencil and paper or DrupalEd.

    You have to consider the affordances issues to question whether they are there!

    Oh, the writing that’s out there that you should read….