Friday, May 08, 2009

Dell Responds

Bri Brewer from Dell Computers responded regarding my post of a couple days ago. In that post, I admittedly upbraided her and Dell for the senseless Tweets being published by the company's flagship ed tech program. Here's her response followed by my letter back to her.
I’m sorry if some of my tweets have offended you. Thank you for your feedback. I will be taking this into account for future tweets from the Dell Edu4U twitter feed. There are many Dell employees on Twitter and many of us think there is room to introduce some personality into the work we do. Just to be clear, the goal behind all of our education-focused social media efforts like, the Education blog, Twitter and beyond is to connect with educators, students and school officials to help us be a useful member of the Education community. Mark's role on the board of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is one part of our broader commitment to serving the education community, including students, teachers, parents, and administrators. In my own role, I am the online community manager for our education blog and work with our education team and industry experts to publicize resources and best practice sharing for teachers via our blog and Edu4U. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the future to this end and appreciate the sincerity of your commitment to education and educational technology.

Bri Brewer, Dell

Dear Bri,

You know, it's not really a matter of being 'offended'. I'm a teacher; it's hard to 'offend' me. What I'm much more concerned about is that you 'represent' me.

Allow me to explain.

I'm a teacher in a paperless classroom. It's taken me three years of constant work to get to this point. I spent the first year obsessively studying educational technology and digital culture. I laid out the structure of what a successful paperless classroom would look like and I applied myself to the blogosphere like a fiend. In the second year, I went completely paperless; i.e. I stopped using paper altogether. I started organizing my classes by blogs and RSS feeds. And this last year I've had my students go completely paperless; all of their work -- including tests, quizzes, projects, and classwork -- is done online using the resources of Web 2.0.

And despite the comments of readers on this blog -- the majority of whom are excited about going digital in their own classes -- the overwhelming response I've gotten from veteran teachers has been one of fear and loathing.

Let's just say that Tweets about tequila shots posted by the online community manager of Dell's educational technology wing haven't made my job any easier.

Because you -- as a major public voice of the technological world and as representing the second most successful computer seller in the world -- represent us ed techies to many of our colleagues. And your Tweets -- your attempts to introduce personality into the work you do -- help define us ed techies in the eyes of those of our colleagues who are looking for excuses to bail on technology altogether.

I would think that anyone in your position would have thought long ago about the power that your words would carry.

I understand that this Digital Age thing is new and tricky. I've certainly put my foot in my mouth both on this blog as well as in comments on the blogs of others. But I'm just a small time teacher at a semi-rural suburban school in Maryland. You on the other hand are the ed tech voice of the 25th most powerful corporation in the known universe.

What I say may or may not be long soon forgotten. What you say can and may influence the way vast millions of people think about educational technology.

Twitter is an incredibly powerful medium. How we treat it and use it now may define how it is used in the future. Furthermore, how we treat social media at large is defining how our kids are coming to understand it. I take you at your word that you are trying to be a "useful member of the Education community". I hope to see this reflected in your Tweets.

I encourage you to follow some of the great ed tech Twitterers in getting a handle on what "useful" looks like. DM me at @TeachPaperless for more info.



  1. Nice set of posts. You are making people who want to take part in the education community live up to the same standards that teachers are made to uphold. Many communities or districts would not tolerate a teacher who made some of the posts you quoted.


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