Five C’s

I’ve expanded and modified my definitions of educators and their relationships with technology:

  1. Cliff Divers: Coined by my friend, Nathan Garvin, Cliff Divers do exactly what the name suggests: They dive into the new and unknown. Does it matter if they’ve never heard of a new technology? By no means; they’ll use whatever looks promising and assess its effect later.

  2. Curators: These are the teachers who are on the prowl for the best, and only the best, apps, devices, etc. They’ll wait until they hear good things about a product, try it, and then either keep it or toss it. Curators rarely share what they’ve discovered, but when they do, it’s pure gold.

  3. Cluttered: These educators will try everything and then try some more. Their students are always learning new programs, piloting new apps, and (perhaps unfortunately) focused more on the technology than the content. Cluttered teachers are good because they dig up a lot of stuff and help the Cliff Divers and Curators find the good material.

  4. Cautious: Whenever new technology is introduced, the Cautious are apt to be skeptical. ‘How is this better than what I’m already doing without technology?’ is a standard question. These educators will ask Cliff Divers, Curators, and Cluttered teachers tough questions, which are needed whenever new technology is introduced into a classroom.

  5. Critical: The Critical teachers don’t like change and probably never will. Most things that are new are seen as a threat, which often agitates the Critical educators. They are the workers, as Jim Collins would say, who need to either get on or off the bus.

Most teachers fall on a spectrum and probably encompass more than one of the C‘s. With all the change happening in education right now, it’s a good time for introspection.

Explorers and Curators

There are a lot of wonderful educational resources being created; especially now that 1:1 devices are becoming ubiquitous. I’ve spoken with many educators throughout this past school year who’ve been incorporating programs, learning management systems (LMS), websites, apps, and much more in their classrooms. Broadly speaking, I think many teachers can be included in one of two groups:

1. Explorers–These teachers scour the internet, App Store, and blogs to find the latest resources. They implement these new findings in their classrooms and share the results with as many people as possible. Explorers may not stick with a resource for very long, even if it’s good, because there’s so much more to be discovered and tried with the students. Strong allegiances can be made with certain LMSs, apps, websites, etc., but they’re few in number.

2. Curators–These teachers only look at a few resources at a time; then they decide which ones they’ll incorporate. Curators don’t see the need to always search for new programs to use with their students. An LMS, document creating program, and assessment tool are all that are really necessary. Curators become satisfied with a particular way of using technology and get really good at executing its use in the classroom.

Each type has pros and cons, but in reality, Explorers and Curators are both needed within a school district for growth to take place. Explorers find the good stuff, and Curators become really proficient at using the good stuff.

It’s important to avoid the pitfalls both groups pose. Explorers must understand that student learning may not gain traction if new programs are being implemented all the time. This is because instead of learning the subject matter content, students are constantly learning how to navigate new apps, websites, accounts, etc. Curators, on the other hand, need to keep in mind that better ways of doing things are regularly being created. 2014 is not the time to be connected to a handful of programs and cease trying new resources. Sticking with “best-practice” technology is wonderful, but so is switching to the best, most advanced tool of the time.

So, in a nutshell:

Explorers fill up the museum walls with as many pieces of art as possible.
Curators fill up each wall with only a few pieces of very valuable art.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably an educator with an interest in technology. With which group do you identify?