When Audrey Waters was asked to create something similar to Stack Overflow co-founder Joel Spolsky’s “Joel Test“. She admitted that she wasn’t sure she could create a comparable test for techies in education, so instead she came up with this: “The Audrey Test”: Or, What Should Every Techie Know About Education?.
I wholeheartedly agree that ‘techie’s should know something about education if they want to work in this field, BUT it is also true that ‘EDie’s should know something about tech, especially if they want to call themselves Educational Technologists, and not have the techies choke on their Slurpees (before taking you for that proverbial ride).
Audrey’s railing against our “ed-tech amnesia” could also be applied to tech – there is a tech amnesia too, the mistaken notion that the variety of tools available today absolves educators from having to know how they actually work. The tools we have at our disposal are easier to use than ever, and most people no longer need to know how to program in order to create websites, or work collaboratively, or to create an online course, BUT, those who do know how to program will also have an understanding of what’s happening under the hood that allows them to use the tools more effectively, and more creatively, and there are definitely some groups who should know how the tech works regardless of whether or not they ever need to write an actual program.
So let’s turn this around. For the moment, let’s focus on what every educational technologist should know about tech. As someone who has been a techie since way before it was cool, AND who has been teaching an actual subject (other than education) for over 30 years, I want to make it clear, right here and now that far too many of those I have met who call themselves Educational Technologists don’t actually know tech.
This is a problem. In fact, this is several problems…..
…..Maybe not to the people the EDies talk to and teach, who, for the most part, know even less, but it IS a problem in the sense that you can’t teach what you don’t practice (thanks to Bjarne Stroustrup for that quote). If you don’t know tech, you can’t teach it to anyone else.
Ed Tech faculty in higher ed especially get my goat.
Teachers tend to gloss over things they don’t really understand. I’m not just talking about education teachers. Don’t pretend like you don’t – we all do it. The problem is that when the subject matter of your profession is something you don’t fully comprehend, it makes you a charlatan (or, if you want something more polite, a pseudoteacher). If you claim to be teaching educational technology and don’t actually know how that tech works yourself, you are cheating those you are pretending to teach, and THAT’s even worse. You are sending people out there with assurances that they are prepared, when in fact they aren’t. You prime them to be taken in by all the snake-oil salesmen and false prophets that cross their path. You perpetuate the problem.
You are also short-changing them in another way. There are designs I can imagine and uses of technology I can see precisely because I know how it works. If you don’t know how the tech works, you can’t see some of how it’s useful.
SO, if you want to call yourself an educational technologist, here’s a test you can take while you are waiting for your techie friends to finish Audrey’s. I’m assuming that if you are an Edie, you can pass Audrey’s test as well. If you can’t then you need to do some reading.
I’m calling it the Becker Ed Tech Test (BETT) because I already have the Becker Lazy Test (BLT), which is something I developed some years ago as part of my 4-PEG game assessment.
Like Audrey’s Test, mine is longer than the Joel Test, and also like Audrey’s test, mine is also not comprehensive. This test includes a selection of questions both big and small that touches on a wide cross-section of knowledge and skills that I think anyone who calls themselves and Educational Technologist should be able to answer.
So, can YOU pass the BETT?