Putting the “U” in Education Technology
The EduTech Guys spread fresh ideas and strategies, one show at a time
by Dr. Rod Berger
About four years ago, Jeff Madlock and David Henderson were sitting at an Arkansas burger joint eating lunch and reminiscing about working on the radio, a former profession for both of them. They both work now as edtech coordinators; Jeff works for a local school district, and David works with a state education service agency. The two have been friends for years, and David describes their banter as “goofy and hilarious.” They were joking about doing a radio show about technology with them as hosts, and of course, the idea of podcasting came up. One thing led to another, and the very popular EduTech Guys podcast was born.
The road from that local burger joint to recording live at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) was a long and winding one, but they moved along it rapidly. They will be presenting three sessions together at the Orange County Conference Center in Orlando, Florida from January 27-30, 2019, talking about podcasting and using the Cloud and the Internet of Things in the classroom.
“We started the EduTech Guys podcast with just a MacBook and a couple of microphones,” David says. “We sat down at a table at an education conference and quite literally grabbed anybody we knew who happened to be walking by to interview.” One of the things that they would run into was a lot of shyness from the person they interviewed, but David and Jeff would just explain, “Pretend that none of this stuff is here and just talk to me about what you're doing here, what you're learning, and what you hope to learn. Tell me your story.”
David and Jeff may talk to hundreds of education thought leaders, but they are very aware that they could be the first and only opportunity for the person sitting down for an interview to share their story with someone. The EduTech Guys enjoy helping people find their voice. “We say, ‘You're the one we're talking to right now,” David says. “You're the one who matters in this moment in time. We want to hear your story.’ Yes, we're lighthearted and goofy, but I take the responsibility of telling their story very seriously.”
David understands that education is a community of silos and the EduTech Guys are committed to opening up lines of communication between educators. Fifth-grade math teachers know there are other fifth-grade math teachers out there, but how do they find each other to share ideas and experiences? Once social media opened up communication possibilities, things changed drastically for educators. Communication tools such as Twitter chats helped blow whole communities wide open and gave even teachers from small rural schools and districts the opportunity to participate in wide-ranging discussions. “The fact that I can find a chat on any given night about any given topic related to education and join in as a part of that conversation is huge,” David says. “It's absolutely amazing.”
As a result, one of the things that Jeff and David have discovered about the education community is that it has gone from a community of closed and compartmentalized silos a few short years ago to a relatively close-knit family of a hundred thousand people or more. “It sounds crazy, but I can’t tell you how many times we’d go to a conference or an event and there are people whom we have come to know through either Twitter Chats or the EduTechGuys podcast,” David says. “In so many instances, our paths would cross way more often than I think we ever would have realized if it wasn’t for social media.”
That’s why conferences such as FETC are so important, David says. Teachers and administrators from tiny schools and districts with less than 400 students can come and participate in workshops and discussions with educators from large districts of 100,000 students or more. “It’s so cool that you have someone who’s in this massive urban district who happens to be walking by when someone in a tiny little district says ‘We do such and such’ or ‘We tried this’ and you see the educator from the large district say to themselves, ‘I never thought of that’ or ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way,’” David says. And it works the other way around as well; someone from a small district hears an idea and thinks, “Okay, we don't have the resources that large district has, but if we scale that idea down we could actually make that happen. We could make that work and implement that idea.”
After conferences like FETC, David and Jeff are seeing more and more educators and administrators who start networking and communicating by exchanging and sharing ideas through social media, through email, and face to face through Zoom. “It's amazing to me how that community has grown and how much of a voice people realize they have,” David says. Once educators find their voice, David says they realize it doesn't matter that they’re from a tiny school district in Arkansas and a town no one's heard of. They can put ideas out there and they either have other people who think the same way and agree or not. Ideas, techniques, strategies, and teaching tactics get shared, modified, scaled and implemented regardless of the size of the classroom, school, or district. “It’s whole new and exciting world,” David smiles.
About David Henderson
David Henderson serves as Technology Coordinator for Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative and has been in education technology for more than 20 years. He has taught more than 3800 teachers and administrators while working for multiple education service agencies in Arkansas. He received his BA and his MLA from Henderson State University. His background includes technology integration, technology, and network management and development, and distance learning and education.
He has also worked in radio broadcasting, writes for several blogs, conducts social media outreach and development, and has a growing Youtube channel, davidinark. He and his wife, Shannon, have been married for more than 25 years, have two children and live in Prescott, Arkansas.
You can follow the EduTechGuys on Twitter
David Henderson will be presenting along with EduTech Guys co-host Jeff Madlock for three sessions at the 2019 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) from January 27th-30th in Orlando, Florida. The conference will bring together thousands of educators and technology leaders for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices, and pressing issues. Registration is now open.
Check out the following sessions: