On the Need for Translators in #edtech

I am of the option, that effective educational technology must be appropriately, properly, and reasonably configured. I am also of the opinion that the individual who can make decisions in all three domains of educational technology is exceedingly rare. (Most who claim they can do it are mistaken.)

Fundamentally, technology professionals and education professionals understand technology differently, and they speak different languages. Consider this story:

I was on a team interviewing candidates for an open position managing school IT. We were nearing the end of the second round of interviews, when a candidate asked, “What can you tell me about the environment here?”

The superintendent of schools began her long answer on the positive social environment and the collaboration among the teachers and administrators that they had worked to foster in recent years. The candidate looked at me and the other person on the interview committee who had any technology experience with the same puzzled expression. I took the brave step of interrupting the superintendent when she stopped to take a breath. (She was a woman whose was confident that she always had the most important thing to say out of everyone in the room). I said, “I think he is asking about the network environment.”

The candidate nodded and said, “Yes, I am sure that is all true, but what kind of network do you have installed?”

So, here we have it. “Environment” is a word that has vastly different meanings for  educators and technologists. We need not be experts in each other’s areas of expertise–that does not even make sense–but we do need to understand when we need someone who can translate from one into the other.