Monday, June 18, 2007

Diversity in Educational Technology Leadership

Diversity in Educational Technology Leadership

I’ve been pointed to a number of other recent discussions about who is leading the educational technology movement.

It’s interesting to see these folks talk among themselves about technology leadership. I’m glad to the see the discussion, as it’s an issue I’ve been talking about for years, but not in blogsphere (?) But what I saw was an academic perspective. Leadership had to emanate from institutions of higher education and leaders should have PhDs.

It seemed to me to be an elitist viewpoint. It ignored all the projects that NSF and even the US Dept of Education has funded that have resulted in significant and positive improvements in education. It also ignored a number of other organizations that I’d identify as trying to be leaders in at least some parts of the educational technology universe. Here are a couple of examples.

  • COSN is the professional association for school CTOs. I’ve been a member of COSN for many years and on the Emerging Technology Committee for most of that time. COSN has been concerned that there isn’t the diversity in their membership they feel would benefit students. They recognize however that their membership does reflect the diversity in the field, and they have been trying to find ways to improve the diversity of those that strive to become school CTOs.
  • NACOL is the professional association for the K-16 virtual school community. I’ve been a member of NACOL since it’s inception, and I’m currently on the Research Committee. After this year’s conference, I wrote to the NACOL Board and made a specific set of recommendations to increase the diversity of the field and the NACOL membership. I’ve yet to see any movement.
  • NABSE has been slow to embrace technology, but is now moving strongly in that direction. They have a number of other agenda items that they feel are critical, but technology is slowly moving up on that list.
  • NSBA with their T+L Conference has been taking a lead in educational technology and they are concerned with diversity as well.
  • NECC and FETC which cater to teachers are more diverse, and both organizations do take positions on policy.

Even with all this concern there’s still a lack of diversity in educational technology leadership. But then the US still hasn't solved a number of problems with equity and diversity in general.

There are others who are trying to help lead educational technology and add diversity at the same time. I’ll only mention Bonnie Bracey-Sutton because she doesn’t match the PhD academic prototype. She’s a former elementary teacher without a PhD. But she can be found holding her own and educating graduate students, faculty, Congressional representatives, and other policy-makers. She serves on a number of national advisory committees and a Google search of her name will result in many more hits than many of the folks who are the self-proclaimed leaders in educational technology. Did I mention Bonnie is Black and Native American?

It’s important to recognize that there’s a diversity issue. It’s more important to take action. It means finding the leverage points and applying pressure to help make the change.

After all, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.


Bonnie Bracey Sutton said...

Ray, you must be a mind reader. I did a class last week at a university. These were the people being trained for leadership. They asked questions as if we were in 1999.

I could not believe it.

I learned to field and give answers on the road.

I know my work.

I gave them Digital Divide, MIT, Henry Jenkins, Edutopia ,Kinetic City, the National Geographic website, almost too fast for some of them.

I could not tell if they got it or not I was worried. But I am getting so much mail from them now I can't believe it. I wanted to cry, because they affirmed that lots of what we did for creating a program in technology in the US has been stifled.

I loved standing their in front of them without a hesitation about anything.

I just know this area.I have a Thomas Jefferson PhD.That means that I learn what I need to do a job and keep learning. It's fun.

I am still learning. I am doing the HPC learning with grid, Teragrid and Petascale ideas. I guess I was born to be a pioneer.

Sometimes when you pioneer, George Lucas said, "The people coming behind yourun over your hands as you build a bridge to the future on their way to learning and forget you were there.

So I understand the field ....

I also have resources to draw upon. The Edutopia site,, the Blue Web'n site, the EOT of the Teragrid,, and I know this because I use these sites. That says nothing about the resources from NASA, NSTA, NCTM, NCGE.. why don't we know these ? What could be interfering?

Interestingly enough few seem to know that broadening participation has to also be inclusive of those whose participation we want for several reasons. I could go on.
You don't have to see one to be one.. but it helps.

We have abandoned the gifted and talented who don't have parents to
push them.

Most of my technology training was before there were courses.I learned because students needed the
use of new technologies.That's why teaching the course was so much fun.

I trained at the White House on the NIIAC. Best training in the world I think. I worked with the IITF, the McKinsey Group and NASA youth groups. I worked with Vice President Gore, Larry Irving and the FCC. We had fun crafting the digital divide initiatives.

What a wonderful experience I had. Many people tell me that they got their degrees using the information from the listservs that I have forwarded over the years.
That works for me.

It is nice to know I don't walk alone face to face or in e-learning!

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

timholt said...

Thanks for picking up the conversation.

To clarifiy some things from my original post on Byte Speed:

What I was thinking, and writing out loud about was not Ed Tech/Education in general. I was looking more from a perspective of two places:
The Web 2.0 Educational Technology sphere and the conference sphere. (Meaning such conferences as NECC and TCEA)

These two places, especially the Web 2.0 arena, high profile and are seen by many.

So actually, I am lookig at a small part of the big picture, but it is a small part that at least I am familiar with.

To let you know, my post has caused some in the blogosphere to call me a reverse racist, among other things.

Interesting how ideas about race cause such a heated discussion.

El Paso

Miguel said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm at a COSN Texas CTO Clinic today (June 20, 2007), and found your connection to orgs interesting.

Some argue that the Web allows ideas to flow to the top based on their merit. Yet, I often wonder--with no awareness of the research--whether the "flow systems" of minorities might be considered damaged when compared to that of Anglos/Whites/whatever label is assigned to that ethnic group.

Is it possible that more connections, more ideas, more ways of sharing those are introduced to children of the "majority" races rather than the minorities?

Just a thought or a question in my mind. While I am sure that we have powerful thinkers among minorities, I'm not sure they know how to get those ideas to the bazaar where conversations take place.

More thoughts here: under the titles of "Keep Your Fork" and "Stir the Pot"

With appreciation,

Miguel Guhlin
Around the

Ray Rose said...


A "reverse racist" isn't racist. Either your a racist or you aren't so a reverse racist would be the opposite of a racist.

I understand you were focused on the two areas, but those are parts of the larger Ed Tech environment, and to my way of thinking are just indicators of what's happening in the Ed Tech field in general.

I'm glad you started the discussion, I've tried to get some of the EdTech publications to pick it up but don't know if I'll have any success there.


Ray Rose said...


It was interesting to see some of the talk about how the best ideas will flow to the top. But who/what defines best?

If those making the determination are pretty homogeneous then I think divergent opinions run the risk of being looked on as less valuable.

I thought some of the commenters on other blogs showed some lack of appreciation of different cultural experiences and the impact that makes on individuals and ideas. (e.g. I wonder how many noted June 19th and saw it as having any significance?)


Scott McLeod said...

Bonnie said, "I did a class last week at a university. These were the people being trained for leadership. They asked questions as if we were in 1999."

As an educational leadership professor, I will second her observation. Our current school leaders need a lot of help, as do those who are preservice administrators, as do the faculty who prepare them. There are large, gaping holes in school (and policy) leaders' knowledge and understanding of what it means to prepare students for the 21st century. CASTLE ( is dedicated to addressing the tech needs of school leaders. We'd love any help that anyone is willing to lend.

On another note, many of my academic colleagues are almost incredulous when I say that there are a lot of really intelligent people doing really great things out there without a Ph.D. I tell them that many of them blog, but no one seems to care...

Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D.

Mechelle said...

Hi Ray,

This is a great blog post. My apologies that it took me so long to respond.

You wrote, "But then the US still hasn't solved a number of problems with equity and diversity in general."

Yes, this is especially true in the South.

The Harvard Civil Rights Project addresses the racial inequalities in special education. It is a must read for teachers stating, "We need to reach the point at which every child is treated as if he or she were our own child, with the same tirelessly defended life possibilities."

Also, according to NEA President Reg Weaver, noted the "troubling" lack of diversity in the teaching work force, saying it deprives pupils of minority and male role models.

Here's the full article link:

Teachers need diverse leadership so that we can better serve our minority population. This is especially so with regard to educational technology leadership. We need to foster educational opportunities for all.

I'm still learning. Thank you for your leadership.