1. Technology is not a monolith.
Technology doesn’t tell you what to do and it doesn’t force you to behave in ways you’d rather not. Technology -- particularly social technology -- is whatever you make it. Use what you want, leave the rest. Mash it up, alter it to fit your needs, customize it, and own it. If you can’t do that with your technology, then you are using the wrong technology.
2. Technology is not a monolith, but many technology providers are monolithic.
There is very little that any teacher will need that can not be had via open source options. If your administration is spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on software and licenses, they are literally throwing their money away. They need to know that. And you need to be the one to tell them.
3. The Digital Age is not going away.
We have already produced babies who will see the 22nd century. So let’s stop trying to prepare them for the 20th. The Internet as it exists today is equivalent to the Model A; let’s be wise for once and not build the highway of the future with the notion that our kids are going to be driving Model As on it.
4. Meeting strangers is a good thing.
So often our fears about technological connectivity center around the fear of what sorts of strangers our students might bump into out there online. Fact is: we should want them to meet strangers. That’s the point. You don’t make the world better by isolating yourself; you make the world better by engaging with it and sharing opinions, ideas, and observations with all sorts of people. Our task as teachers -- and as parents -- is to help our kids understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relations between strangers online. One way to do this is by modeling the behaviors we expect of digital citizens in the classroom everyday. That's not an option anymore; it's part of our job description. We are all health professionals now.
5. This ain’t your pappy’s technology.
Your students bring more tech power into school in their pockets each morning than you managed to procure spending untold hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last thirty years. All those folks who complained and questioned tech budgets back in 1983 and 1996: they were right. You were wasting money on gadgets with little educational value. But, guess what? Then it all changed. With the advent of the mainstream World Wide Web and subsequently with the development of Web 2.0, technology itself actually became something different. It was no longer about the hardware. It was about the network. Which brings us to the present: Mobile Cloud Computing. The new paradigm is about your information, your friends' information, the information of strangers, and how these informations all coalesce in the Cloud. The future is now. And despite the fact his job might be on the line, don't let your old school IT guy tell you otherwise.
6. The Digital Divide is not the result of technology being expensive.
The Digital Divide is the result of a failure of imagination and the poor -- indeed practically criminal -- allocation of resources. Does your admin realize how little it costs to bring Wi-Fi to your building? Does your admin realize they are spending more on textbooks in many cases than they would on netbooks? Has anyone ever sat down with your admin and demonstrated how to hack past your Internet blocks and filters? Does your admin realize how that money is wasted? Does your admin realize that your students can access the unfiltered web via their cell phones? Do 70% of your students arrive everyday with cell phones and yet your colleagues still say technology is out of your reach? It's time to rethink.
7. The most important thing we can do right now as teachers is to be campaigners and advocates and organizers for free universal Wi-Fi Internet access.
We work in the service of education. We give students information and we teach them how to use it. That’s exactly why we have to be the ones to lead the fight for free and universal immediate access to information. We should demand WiMax systems in all of our cities and suburbs and Wi-Fi grids throughout the rural hills and valleys. We should also insist that all highway corridors be made Wi-Fi accessible so that travelers can have access to the Internet as they are en route to whatever destination. Internet Access is a matter of fulfilling the promise of democracy. Internet Access is a Civil Right.
8. When it comes to authentic tech integration, parents are the best friends a teacher can have.
You have parents who use social media and Web 2.0 technology on a daily basis whether at home or at work. So why does your school treat it as taboo? Bring parents in to your building, collaborate with them. Have tech savvy parents demonstrate real-world applications of technology and help bring non-tech savvy parents up to speed. We are educators. We educate. In light of the changes going on in the new Digital paradigms, that's going to mean that we have to educate the whole community and allow the community to educate us.
9. Kids need to be taught digital citizenship.
Hate using YouTube because of the filth in the comments? Then teach your kids that commenting on YouTube is a part of their responsibility as digital citizens; because in all social media it is the users who decide the content. Digital citizenship being a daily component of classroom learning, in eight years time let’s see what the comments on YouTube look like. And that doesn't mean YouTube needs to be 'cleaned up'; rather, much of the passion related to YouTube happens in the comments and it's often raw and real (as well as sophomoric and prejudiced). But it tells us alot about ourselves and we shouldn't be afraid to help our kids navigate it and become critical participants in the dialogue. Never forget that you are a teacher: you aren’t ‘making’ the present, you are ‘facilitating’ the future. So don’t be discouraged about what you see now, rather be encouraged about what your teaching will let tomorrow look like.
10. Specific devices and tech apps become obsolete.
Don’t dwell on that. Instead, recognize that the Digital Age is more about a new networked and immediately connected way of thinking; that’s not going to change no matter whose name appears at the top of the browser or on the back of the smartphone. Obsolescence is the handmaiden of innovation. Get used to it.
11. You must be fearless.
The old rules are exactly that. The old system doesn’t work: just look at it and see for yourself. Everyone knows this. The admins know it. Your colleagues know it. The kids and their parents know it. So let’s stop tip-toeing around it. It’s time to do something about it. This is 2009: demand the impossible, again.