Adopting educational technology: The journey to full integration

What I love most about my professional learning network (PLN) is the continuous opportunities it has provided me for reflection on my professional practice.  It never fails to inspire me when I'm in a funk, teach me something new when I least expect it, or provide insight that I would not have come to on my own.  My PLN has been particularly helpful lately as I've experienced incredible frustration with the sluggish pace of educational reform.

Recently while fumbling between an Ed Tech Talk podcast, reviewing some of the recent Tweets I missed, and I was thinking about comments I heard a recent tech committee meeting at our school.  I was specifically stuck on a comment made by one person that suggested that the district needed to provide both quality educational experiences and experiences utilizing technology. The suggestion that the two could not work in tandem reminded me that everyone at the table was at a very different place regarding their conceptual understanding of the role technology could play in changing the way we teach students.

Through the combination of it all I was reminded of just how much I've grown in my understanding of the ways that technology can transform and enhance educational delivery and instructional practice for educators willing to embrace it.  It wasn't really so long ago when I was the one scoffing at some of the very same ideas I now promote in these meetings.  I, too, probably wondered how we could find enough time in the day to teach all of the regular curriculum and then add new "technology specific skills" to the list.  The epiphany that technology can alter what education looks like probably never struck me when I was just beginning to grasp the concepts I fully accept now.  That is a realization one has to come to as we allow these concepts to roll around for a while.

This strikes me as an important revelation to hold on to when I experience the frustration that comes with trying to move the juggernaut of education at anything faster than a snail's pace.

While seeing can be believing within the world of educational technology (and thus doing is adopting???), there is no substitute for the time needed to allow the innovative ideas of this movement/pedagogy/practice to really take hold and transform the thoughts/beliefs/practices of those on the journey to adoption and integration of instructional technology principles.  Those of us that have made a habit of drinking the koolaid have to remember that.  Most of us needed that time to adjust as well.  It just happened that so many of us, as early adopters, were so far ahead of the wave that there was no pressure to adopt these ideas overnight.  Too often I find myself wanting to push the masses of educators just arriving to these concepts in a direction that they are not mentally prepared to accept.  I feel like that little kid who has been in the cave hundreds of times; now I just need my friends to trust me enough to follow me blindly into the darkness.  Fortunately, these professionals value their students and their profession enough to step cautiously when entering the darkness.  They are not going to follow blindly.  The result: I'm left to search for new and better ways to urge these educators along on the path to adoption and integration of educational technology more quickly than I came to the same full acceptance I want them to achieve.

One of the best ways that I can think of to help them achieve this growth and adoption more quickly is to take full advantage of something I was skeptical of during my journey: developing a high quality PLN.  For me my Twitter, Teachers 2.0, podcast, and personal networks serve as an ongoing source of ideas that help me to uncover new ideas, explore new terrain, and reflect on my practice.(you see, of course, the circular reasoning of this post...I end in the same place that I started).  My PLN serves as the ongoing backdrop of professional conversations that keep me focused on the areas of interest to me.  If I had the benefit of these conversations earlier in my educational technology adoption journey, perhaps I would have started to accept these ideas/practices more quickly.

Therefore, I'm going to begin suggesting to those that I would like to see move along more quickly in their instructional technology adoption that they form a network of influential thinkers that may help keep them focused on the task at hand: using technology to transform education.  Of course, this suggesting will best be served with a side of mentoring as to how to actually achieve this(do you remember how hard it was to start developing a high quality PLN?).  By the way, this is a heck of a way to start gaining even more followers and growing my virtual ego to an even greater extent.