NECC, EdTech Apologetics and Discussing EdTech Stereotypes

you said it, buddy!

Apologetics, not to be confused with apology, and then a discussion of some ed-tech stereotypes.

I wanted to address a comment from a discussion on another site regarding my post titled A Bit More Education Techno-Twaddle; Why I Avoid NECC, 2008 Edition.

I read your post, it was pretty negative.

The author of the comment may have glanced at the post, but was a bit selective about what to process and what to ignore. My post outlined a few problems with NECC – such as intellectual diversity, for one, as we’re not all Constructivists – and then I engaged over 25 commenters in meaningful discussion [that's still ongoing].

I received even more e-mails than comments, with about half saying specifically that they wanted the discussion to be private/anonymous/etc. I published my post on Wednesday evening and immediately e-mails/comments poured in. I spent the next 8 hours – until about 3am that night – responding to them both.

That, the sustained discussion and the conference proposal should demonstrate a bit of sincerity here. No idle complaining, just a commitment to improving an important sector in education.

Many of us get a lot out of the conference, however, after reading that you’re not very interested in k12,

I haven’t a clue where this comes from. In the last year I’ve written nearly 200,000 words about K-12 education, and I put more time into K-12 education than anything I actually get paid to do.

I don’t know that necc is the best use of your time.

I have received quite a few of these gentle suggestions over the last few days.

You just seemed very very defensive and negative about necc.

I’d loved to have written volumes of effusive praise for NECC, but honest analysis of the situation didn’t call for it – and plenty of others wrote about their positive experiences and the value they derived from the conference. And though some winced at my post, turning a blind eye would have been infinitely more damaging.

Also, know that you are a persuasive writer and that you DO have an influence on others.

Thank you – that’s precisely why I engaged the ed-tech community in this discussion.

You have the right to your opinion, but the many of us who have to scrimp and save to go to NECC (it is not in the budget of my school) don’t appreciate you lumping us all in together and stereotyping us all. You really talked down to the “lot” of us in your post basically making us feel like idiots.

The author of this comment, and the education technology community as a whole, can decide both how to feel and how/if they would like to respond to my call for dialogue. There has been tremendous variation inĀ  reactions.

So, have your opinion, and that is fine, however, respect those of us that disagree.

I do, and I have engaged those with whom I disagree as much as possible. That engagement is a sign of respect for opinions and those who hold them. That respect hasn’t always gone both ways, but such is life.

It is your right to do as you wish but stereotyping is ALWAYS hurtful. And you basically said you didn’t want to go b/c of the people that would be there — that is me and some other people I think are great.

The commenter couldn’t be more wrong about stereotypes. They aren’t always hurtful.

First, I hasten to point out that it’s a bit difficult to write about an event attended by 17,000 people [does that include vendors?] without making a few generalizations. Strike that – it’s impossible. Any group that large will have its share of the helpful, the harmful, and everything in between, and I’m not about to break down into dozens of subgroups to inject the utmost fairness into the debate. Reality and common sense occasionally dictate constraints.

More importantly, the education technology sector, in my opinion, can be stereotyped effectively. Here are a few sweeping generalizations that I’m comfortable making:

EdTech folks are decent people. My interactions with education technology practitioners have been more pleasant than with any other sector in education – hands down. Though I usually disagree with the hows and the whys of their initiatives, those who practice them are well-meaning and thoughtful people. If I wanted to have a beer with any ‘stereotype’ in education, it would be an ed-tech’er.

EdTechs are deeply committed. The professional development undertaken by education technology practitioners is frequent – it occurs on the job and in their personal lives. William Arrowsmith, an education theorist who is underappreciated and underutilized, said that one would expect a classicist to live classically. Those in education technology uphold this tradition of what can be characterized colloquially as practicing what they preach. If the general population of education professionals collectively made 1/10th of this commitment, we’d all be better off.

EdTechs have fun. This is really an offshoot of my first stereotype, but it’s distinctly different. Great attitudes and loads of smiles – that sums up the majority of ed-tech’ers. Whether it’s reading blogs or listening to the joviality in podcasts like EdTechTalk, there’s no question that they’re a fun bunch.

I’ll stop at three – you get the idea. Any sector that can claim these three stereotypes is lucky.

Stereotypes, despite what Reading Rainbow professed, aren’t always bad.

Now, can we get to work? There’s still an open invitation to review and comment on my proposal for the K12 Online Conference. Terry Freedman’s comments were quite helpful, and I’d like to hear from you, too.

4 Responses to “NECC, EdTech Apologetics and Discussing EdTech Stereotypes”

  1. Professor Jelly Belly says:

    The flood of comments is even more proof of the “herd mentality” of “most” in the ed. tech community is alive and well. I mean for Gods sakes – how many years can you milk out “web 2.0″ at the same conference that supposed to be “visionary”- NECC should be about much more.


  2. Professor Jelly Belly,

    Congrats on an awesome e-moniker. I like it.

    Did you go to NECC this year? If so, what was your take? And if not, why not?

  3. Lori Sheldon says:


    I want to thank you for taking the time to personally respond to my email last week regarding your thoughts on education/ I am not one to comment on blogs, but I am very impressed with all of the thought that went into your response. The fact that your post brought about such a flurry of comments/discussions is very positive. You have given me some very good points to think about and I will get back to you, but, in the meantime, thanks!

  4. Lori,

    You’re welcome – there’s no point in bringing up some contentious points if we’re not willing to discuss it all to the fullest. I’ve enjoyed the discussion and made some real progress in a few areas.

    I agree, too, that the volume of comments is a positive indicator. It’s also worth noting that a post about NECC received well over a thousand views in a 48hr period, along with lots of comments and e-mails, while a follow-up post in which I outlined a conference proposal and asked for input largely remained untouched.

    Critique and many cry foul; offer something of value and invite participation and the crickets chirp. That aspect isn’t terribly healthy for ed-tech.

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