An EdTech Giving with Steve Jobs

I don’t know of another way to say it. Simply put, the tryptophan and all the delicious food got to me. Two heaping plates of turkey, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and a non-discriminatory plate of four different desserts loaded me up and weighed me down. Of course, the only possible remedy for such a heavy stomach and drowsy body was the oversized Lazy-Boy recliner situated ever so perfectly near the hanging flat-screen television.
A couple of boring, NFL football plays from the big screen and a few side-to-side wiggles deeper into the recliner had me draped in the Lazy-Boy like a blanket and fast asleep into an edtech dream.
Wearing beltless Levis, a long-sleeved, black shirt, and white kicks, Steve Jobs walked the perimeter of an endless rectangular table attended by students of all ages, races, cultures, and religions. With each stop near an excited kid, he handed out MacBooks, iPads, iPods, and iPhones from a limitless bag embroidered with the famous Apple logo and cheerfully held by the “Woz.”
A distinctive voice to my left caught my attention. “Hey, Mr. Jobs, let us join in the fun.” Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin added to the technology giveaway by doling out PC’s, Chromebooks, Windows phones, Android phones, Surface Pro tablets, and Google glasses. 
Instead of the incessant pinging and clanking of busy eating utensils at a dinner table, the boundless room was filled with sounds created from pinched screens, tapped keyboards, volume-maxed earbuds, video-conferencing smartphones, and the learning noise from an innumerable amount of engaged students.
Of course, a table cloth riddled with an infinite amount of educational standards and objectives served as the foundation for the students’ activities. The table cloth guided the students into a vast, virtual world of inquiry, discovery, and creativity. Ironically enough, the seated learners were learning actively, not sedentarily.
A quick tap of a fork on a wine glass via a unique smartphone app caused all sound to immediately lower in volume. Attention was given to Ada Lovelace, perhaps the most distinguished, adult guest. “Let’s lower our learning noise just a bit to allow for a round of edtech gratitude from our most important guests, the students.” With a respectful, loving tone, Ada asked, “Who would like to start?” As far as the eye could see, students’ hands were raised.
Somehow, some way, with all those eager voices, the EdTechGiving began.
“I absolutely love the ease-of-use, the collaborative ability, and the overall power of Google Drive,” said the first student.
Another student immediately added, “BrainHoney is truly sweet. No longer do I need to worry about backpack-induced scoliosis. My entire class assignments are housed on a digital learning platform that is entirely flexible, malleable, and up-to-date.”
Almost effortlessly and without any speaking cues, each student added to the burgeoning gratitude list.
“Built-in cameras allow us to climb over the classroom walls and visit other thinkers in the world through Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Microsoft Lync.”
“Apps and sites like TodaysMeet, Polleverywhere, and Twitter gives ALL students, even the quiet and shy ones, voices to express their opinions through open backchannels during regular class discussions or after-school assignments.”
A noticeably energetic teenage boy spoke. “Maybe this sounds kind of different, but the GoPro camera has allowed me to bring skateboarding, dirt-biking, or even surfing to a larger audience.” He continued in an excited and rapid speaking manner, “And, who knows, with creative teachers, I can merge writing, science, math, P.E., or, heck, anything at all with my personal interests.”
“Well, I guess it’s my turn with that comment,” said another student. “I am simply thankful for all those teachers who bust through their discomfort to learn new ways of teaching, new edtech gadgets and apps, and, ultimately, a forward-thinking and fearless style of engaging all students.”
A noticeably shy student spoke next. “Something happens when I try to write with a pen or pencil…it’s like the words get jumbled up and are so confusing to me. So, DragonDictation is what I’m so thankful for. I simply speak and my thoughts appear right in front of me.”
Then, the exact antithesis of the previous student shouted loudly, “Evernote rocks! That’s my favorite. Especially when teachers see smartphones for their true potential. Anything becomes a note. Anywhere I go, I can extend my learning by snapping pictures and adding notes to a shared folder.”
“Yo, check this!” replied a smiling, young, and musically inclined youngster. “SoundCloud has turned my smartphone into a microphone. What’s really cool is that when I need to demonstrate understanding of whatever, I can put my knowledge into a song or just a regular podcast.”
“Well, let’s not forget Voicethread. How cool is it that we can share our thoughts with the world by taking advantage of options like video, audio, text, or a phone-in?”
“You got that right,” answered another student. “Think about it, you all. We got communicative power in our hands with apps like WordPress and Blogger. Seriously, my thoughts can be posted wherever, whenever.”
“And if somebody doesn’t understand something, whether it’s a teacher or a friend,” exclaimed an eager young lady, “we can use ExplainEverything, Jing, or ScreenCastoMatic to create a video tutorial. Boom! There it is…knowledge known, knowledge shared, knowledge learned.”
“And if our teachers need us to showcase our knowledge, we can create our own websites with Wix or Weebly with an embedded Symbaloo webmix of all our projects. You know, we can fully market ourselves and our original ideas.”
No doubt the fluid conversation would never have ceased if it were not for the interruption by Steve Jobs. “Excuse me, gifted students. This apparently incessant list of edtech gratitude is absolutely blowing me away. I am amazed at your appreciation for technology that helps us learn in a different way, a more engaged way, a way that connects to each of you personally. And, I’m sure we will eventually complete our gratitude list of any last edtech apps and gadgets soon enough.
But…in the meantime…
There is one more thing.”
With these famous words from an edtech icon, all students immediately leaned forward and fervently awaited the announcement of the next big thing.
I was no different. I sprang forward in my recliner, nearly abruptly enough to squeeze off my backside, shook off an amazing dream, and returned to the present moment only to receive a bewildered, collective stare from my beautiful wife, my amazingly creative son, and my energetic, athletic daughter.
It appears the Triptophan had worn off and was replaced by a new amino acid, one created from feasting on enlightening knowledge through engaging technology.
Yep, Edtechphan (pronounced “I am an #edtech fan”), had jolted me back to reality and awakened me from a wonderful daydream…
And directly into the arms of those I love more than anything in the world.

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC).

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