Recently Dean Shareski, long time internet colleague, friend, and since I moved to near Moose Jaw, neighbor, blogged that I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore.

Scanning the comments on his post or the long thread of replies to the tweet thereof, there’s a whole boat full of “Me toos.”

Not me.

And not because I am wearing an Ed Tech Guy badge.

It never was my label.

And what exactly is an “EdTech Guy” (I will gloss over the genderization)? Judging from the stuff I do and blog about here, you will likely lump me in as one, but I pick a fight to differ.

I still tinker as much or more in tech as I did when Dean and I started crossing paths, but technology has never been the reason or the primary focus (nor was it really Dean’s). But I have always sought to understand the stuff underneath, so I can both explain it in human language but also leverage and exploit it.

It never is/was about just the tech.

I freely admit I love doing coding and making media and figuring out systems. I like creating and explaining how stuff works. I rabbit hole in code and Stack Exchange. I have to teach myself things many times per day. I like it the way other people like hockey, netflix, knitting, whatever.

But it’s the making for a purpose that is incredibly important, and being able to help others do the same. It’s for the understanding, and the insights that come from the process, not the ends. And the challenge of it to me, figuring things out, is a never ending loop of self-directed learning in action.

I do tech but it’s not all I do. It’s not my purpose. I am not nor never was an “EdTech Guy” even if mamy think I am (I define who I am, thanks).

Take for example photography. It’s been my passion going back 30 years, not just the last twelve that I have been doing daily photos. When I wrote that post, I said,

My joy and motivation here are not the cameras or the editing software, not the technology, but the creative act of photography.

When I started my career at the Maricopa Community Colleges I had a title of “instructional technologist” not because that’s what I did or who I was (it was because of the limits of HR job classifications). And yes, I explored and promoted technology in education, but that was not my full scope.

Just 4 years in my visionary director Naomi sent me to a conference about digital storytelling (circa 1996). And it was more about the latter than the former (I had the fortune to meet Dana Atchley). That experience opened ideas, lead me places that had little to do with tech. I later ended up running our district wide Ocotillo project that was a faculty led initiative to drive technology strategies in the system. Sure I made the web sites, but I also co-designed the programs, ran meetings, talked a lot on the phone, planned events, facilitated working groups.

Early in my years there I worked with a colleague, “C”, an instructional designer. She very much assumed she knew everything about planning learning activities and I, as “only a technologist” was only in the box to build what she designed. My ideas about what we were trying to do were not welcome.

We did not get along.

“C” lasted 1 year at Maricopa; I was there for 14.

And while much of my project work recently is building stuff, in my favorite ones, like Project Community, the UDG Agora Project, the Corrections Leadership Project I have had an equal role in creating and designing the concept, outcomes, activities, the arc, if you will.

I am never just an “EdTech Guy”. Why does it need to be Ed Tech or not?

If you follow Dean in social media you know from his photos and videos how much of a loving and amazing grandfather he is. Is it because he goes around giving TEDTalks on being a grandfather? Is it because he promotes the “Grandfathering Out of the Box” book? No, it’s because he is actively involved, playing, singing, doing stuff with his grandkids. It’s obvious from his media stream that he is not just talking about being grandpa, he is one in action.

I lack a label for the work I do. I still lack a one sentence description. And “EdTech” itself seems to have a foul stink to it, for a map see the 100 debacles of the last decade outlined by Audrey Watters. It’s come to mean the Silicon Vallification of technology used in education, its commercialization, profitization, all the dreaded -izations. If I build stuff using technology for education, am I part of that EdTech?

Bleep no.

You can call me an “EdTech Guy” but I never have, never will.

What am I? You won’t pack me in a simple label, start sifting through the 5000+ plus posts here.


After publishing….

Sure Dean, I take requests! And I go a bit beyond too…. because I can.

Featured Image: Something I made for a talk but never used, modified the Wikimedia Commons image Hello my name is sticker that s in the public domain for the fuzzy reasoning, “The depicted text is ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain, because it is not a ‘literary work’ or other protected type in sense of the local copyright law. Facts, data, and unoriginal information which is common property without sufficiently creative authorship in a general typeface or basic handwriting, and simple geometric shapes are not protected by copyright”

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. I suppose I’m a little disappointed in how my post came across. What I look back on was my interest in seeing how technology might impact learning. It’s easy to say it was always about learning but I can’t ignore that my interest provided an avenue and platform to talk and share about the learning. Without it, I’m not sure I would be doing what I’m doing now. In fact, I know I wouldn’t.

    If I were that same 30-year-old teacher exploring learning, I’m not sure I would be as excited about things as I was back in the late 90s. Maybe I would be excited to see how 3D printing could impact learning but I don’t know. I still believe the principles and ideas I explored back then (connected learning, expanded notion of storytelling and new paths to creativity) are now more accessible, which is great but they aren’t new anymore. That newness gave me an in or a leg up to talk. It seems that without being seen as innovative, it’s harder to be seen as relevant. So, it’s not about me identifying as an edtech person but rather struggling to be heard or valued without some niche. Yes, I realize that many are speaking to learning in broad terms without that niche, but I’m just not sure if I have those chops. This is not about pity but thinking about how many of us are in that same boat competing against those who are on more current technology trends.

    1. Your post was just a launch point for me to think what the word “EdTech” means anymore. You never were about just the tech in the day either, that’s why I wanted to connect with you then.

      Whatever it is tech or new ways of designing learning spaces or new approaches to doing community work- does it really have to be “new” and “innovative”? That’s what I don’t get. Just because digital storytelling is not new does not mean there is a lack of space/reason to do it well now. Just because stuff is accessible, available does not preclude putting new twists, approaches on it? Why is it then only worthwhile to seek the “new”?

      And more importantly, who’s turn is it to buy lunch? Or is lunch not innovative anymore? You know I jab my friends the most….

  2. Although I have always used ‘EdTech’, like you my interest was in the various affordances and possibilities. My concern is the name for that? It feels like as much as anything EdTech is a label that leaves others feeling clarity where there may not be very much.

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