Have educators fallen off the tech bandwagon?

David Warlick writes that the same educators who were all over the Net in the early 1990s are watching Web 2.0 slide on by. Is that a problem?
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

David Warlick writes about speaking at an edtech meeting in North Carolina.

They were teachers, media specialists, a couple of assistant principals, and a handful of tech facilitators. I like to start this presentation by harkening back to those giddy days just before the Web, when a very few of us were paying attention, and recognizing that something BIG was on the horizon.

I asked how many of them had used Gopher. About three-forths of the hands went up. This surprised me. I asked about Telnet. Again, a vast majority of the hands when up. Then I asked how many had heard of blogs, and to no surprise, most of the hands went up. But when I asked..

How many were blogging, I saw only three hands.

How many read blogs? Perhaps 20.

How many had listened to a podcast? Maybe ten.

How many had podcasted? Zero!

How many used flickr? Zero!

How many knew about social bookmarks? Zero!

Delicious (del.icio.us)? Zero!

An interesting number, zero. On a school paper, it means you didn’t do your assignment.

These are educators who, in the early 1990s, were on the edge. They were paying attention, recognizing an emerging revolution in information, and latching on. What happened between then and now? Why have they missed the new revolution?

Am I missing something?

As Warlick suspects, and as usual, blaming the teachers is probably not the most useful approach:

Could it be that we have come such a short distance in our schools since 1990, that our teachers are less equipped, less encouraged, and far less free to pay attention to the world around them, than they were more than a decade ago?

We desperately need… we may not survive without… a generation of young people who are imaginative, inventive, fearless learners, and compassionate leaders. Yet, what can we say, as educators, about the students we are producing. We can prove that they can read, do basic math on paper, and they are able to sit for hours filling in bubble sheets.

No generation in history has ever been so thoroughly prepared for the industrial age.

Here's Tom Hoffman's perspective:

Ed tech has a history, and at some point in the last 20 years, we lost some mojo. The point is not that people who don't use flickr suck, but more that it feels like there was more excitement over the potential of technology than there is over the reality of technology. I think understanding what has gone wrong is essential to getting back to a happy place. The paradox here, of course, is that people aren't going to be motivated start blogs about how they lost interest in keeping up with ed tech. I"m not sure how we reach these people (we might have to leave the house for this), but I think about them a lot.

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