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.