Look skyward, face the sun. Those words represent the hope of a better tomorrow, a hope of heaven, a future undiscovered and unmarred by yesterday’s troubles. They are words of wisdom whispered in a poem by Kahlil Gibran, a reminder that our shadows–our troubles–often have a source beyond our limited vision.

Upon a June day the grass said to the shadow of an elm tree, “You move to right and left over-often, and you disturb my peace.”
And the shadow answered and said, “Not I, not I. Look skyward. There is a tree that moves in the wind to the east and to the west, between the sun and the earth.”
And the grass looked up, and for the first time beheld the tree. And it said in its heart, “Why, behold, there is a larger grass than myself.”
And the grass was silent.

Look skyward. Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet, first made me aware of shadows and how we see them negatively. 

What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?  

They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.
And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?
And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down and trace their shadows upon the earth?
But you who walk facing the sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?
You who travel with the wind, what weathervane shall direct your course? 

I invoke Kahlil Gibran’s wisdom when considering the Top 10 Bad Trends in EdTech 2011 (Tim Holt), 12 Signs Your Tech Leadership is Obsolescent (Doug Johnson). Here’s a quick, combined list in no particular order (I encourage you to read each of the blog entries to get the details):
  1. Elimination of education technology funding / Your district’s tech budget does not include funds for staff development.
  2. Using Educational Technology Only for Remediation 
  3. BYOT: Bring Your Own Technology / Your school does not have a wireless network connection to the Internet for students to use and bans the use of personally-owned devices.
  4. The Business-ification of Education
  5. Narrowing Curriculum that Squeezes out Ed Tech / Your tech director does not have a means of coordinating his/her department’s efforts with those of the office of curriculum and instruction, district and building administration, staff development, assessment, public relations, and special education. 
  6. Ed tech Gurus not Offering Solutions
  7. Textbooks Printed on Paper/ Classes Based on Textbooks
  8. No Common Technology Standard / Your district does not have a K-12 articulated information/technology literacy skills curriculum.
  9. Unrealistic Filtering in Schools/ Your school still blocks all social networking sites and Web 2.0 tools. 
  10. Education IT Departments Stuck in 1990’s
  11. Your district still uses school-based Exchange or Groupwise servers for e-mail.
  12. Your district does not use an advisory committee to form technology policies and priorities. 
  13. Your tech director doesn’t attend technology conferences and only reads technology journals.
  14. Your tech director can’t define 21st century skills, inquiry/project-based learning, or differentiated instruction.
  15. Your school is not taking full advantage of its library media programs or librarians in technology implementations.
  16. Your technology program brags about the 5% of the teachers who use technology well instead of the 100% who use it well.
  17. Your tech director doesn’t have his or her own PLN.
Wow, 17 bad trends or practices. If we made this into a checklist
The flip side of the top, shall we say, shadowy–trends in EdTech Leadership consist of what? And, would flipping these trends around get us the results we want? What ARE the results we want in K-12 schools through the use of technology? While we could all cite some set of standards (e.g. ISTE NETS-S,NETS-T, NETS for leaders, CoSN CTO Essential Skills Framework, iNACOL Standards), what is ONE sentence that you would write that would summarize what you want to see in schools?
And, if flipping the “bad” or obsolete trends around isn’t the right approach, we do need to ask “What happens when we walk facing the sun?” What trends might arise then?
To be honest, this would make a great panel conversation. There are so many great things happening already that these trends are no longer fiction or idealized “new stories.” The only question is, what would the top 5 positive trends for EdTech be in YOUR teaching, learning and leading situation?
I’m tempted to share my list. Resisting….

Source: Teacher Reboot Camp
of course, Doug Johnson has some suggestions….

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure