These were the parting words of my co-worker and fellow English teacher at our St. Francis High School faculty end-of-the-year picnic in June. This what he told me when I told him of my move from Sacramento to San Francisco to start a new career. It seems my transition from the teaching profession into the world of PR and edtech is an act of treachery akin to Anakin Skywalker’s transformation to Darth Vader.
I felt a twinge of guilt — was I a sellout to leave the noble profession of teaching? Are the latest edtech products even effective? Some teachers argue that the edtech industry as a whole is more concerned with profit than actually helping students learn. So is it irresponsible for school districts to be pouring their scarce funding into these new technologies? Are all the new-fangled gadgets (doo-dads and whatzits, as some of my coworkers would say), tablets, smart phones, smart pens, and smart boards just a bunch of distractions that are contributing to the overall decline of our students’ attention spans?
I debated internally for weeks about this, but as I researched the new field in which I’d be entering, I realized something: These new-fangled doo-dads and whatzits are actually doing all kinds of good.
There are textbooks created specifically for tablets that allow words and concepts to come alive with a tap of a student’s finger. There are classroom computers being sold at under $40. There are websites and software designed so that teachers can communicate and share ideas. There are web applications designed so teachers can post curricula online, allowing teachers and students to communicate effectively both in and out of the classrooms. There are smart pens that record both notes and sound and allow students to re-listen to lectures as their notes come alive on the computer screen. There are games designed to help students learn to read, websites devoted to instructional educational videos, even websites designed to make Shakespeare enjoyable for students (and I’ll admit, even as an English teacher — I didn’t know that was even possible).
We’re on the frontier of edtech, and education is going to change in ways we never thought possible. Gone are days of chalkboards and paper and pencils and flashcards. Why not embrace the wave of the future, and use technology to help teachers and students be even more effective? When I see some of the new edtech that’s out there I become a little wistful, imagining the multitude of ways I could have used the awesome new tools available in my own classroom.
I guess what I’m saying to the skeptics out there is that yes, the times they are a-changin’. But with all this change and innovation comes progress, and if all these new developments are helping our children become more excited about learning, then as a former teacher I can’t argue with that. I look forward to this new chapter of my career at TriplePoint, and hope that in working closely in edtech I can help, in a small way, to improve the overall quality of education both for teachers and students. I’ll be sharing my observations and insights along the way with you on Technapex.