12:00 flashingDiscovery Education Streaming has a monthly newsletter that (I’m assuming) they mail out to all the DEN members. This month’s newsletter seemed rather brief (perhaps I’m just confusing it with a different monthly email from Discovery – one that had Steve Dembo‘s picks in it), but the thing that got me was a survey question near the end:

1. Which statement best matches your relationship with Educational Technology?
*I have it working right now, so don’t touch anything.
*Blogs, RSS, Web 2.0, Wiki – that’s what I do before school starts.
*My VCR still flashes “12:00,” but it works just fine.

There you go- that was the only question, those were the only answers.

When I’m teaching, I’ll often have kids ask me “Can I go to the bathroom?”

My answer is usually along the lines of “I don’t know. Can you?” Then in response to their confused expressions I tell them “You have to ask the right question to get the right answer.”

Granted, there’s a big difference between a 3rd grader who doesn’t know the difference between “can” and “may” and Discovery Education – but in both cases I don’t think they’ve asked the right question. Or, more accurately, I don’t think they’ve provided the right answers.

ConfusedI know a lot of teachers who could look at that survey, answer it, and move on without wondering about it at all. Four(?) years ago, I would have proudly selected the second answer. (At the time I didn’t think it was a good idea for students to be given blogs as school assignments. How wrong I was!)

But I’ve gone beyond that. I do have students using wikis, blogs, and all kinds of cool stuff in the classroom. When new ideas come out, I want to hear about them and try them out. I’m not saying this to pump up my already over-inflated ego, because I know there are others like me who are pulling it off even better than I ever could. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Eric Langhorst! Let us know how those new iRivers work out.)

So you see, my problem with the survey question is that there’s no answer I can pick that fits what I do with technology, and I know a lot of people who are in the same boat.

Maybe I’m not Discovery Education Streaming’s target audience, I don’t know.

I wouldn’t think this was worth a whole blog post, especially one as long as this one’s becoming, if I wasn’t seeing this all the time in education. I’ve had more than one employer over the years, and in most cases they were more than happy to get you up to a level that allowed you to copy, paste, and find Microsoft Office on your hard drive. “Advanced” classes showed you how to input pictures into a word document. (I actually attended one of those, and will speak no more about it other than that the presenter asked me how to open PowerPoint.)

And true, a lot of digital immigrants need classes like that – but that’s just the starting point and if we don’t go on then our students will surpass us in the “how-tos” without ever learning the “whys” or “shoulds.”

PUWT ConferenceI suppose that’s another reason why I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Powering Up With Technology conference. There I’ll find educators on every level of the technology spectrum, but we’ll all have one thing in common.

It won’t matter if our VCRs are flashing 12:00, our current tech is working, or we love to use blogs, wikis, rss, and more outside (and inside!) the classroom.

Every single one of us at that conference will be there because we want to do more.

Aaron Smith is a Media Arts & Technology Teacher who spends most of his time on computers. In his free time he plays video games, edits videos, and misses his wife dearly.