June 2 Board & Mo’ Problems with Ed Tech?

On Thursday, June 2, there was a press conference in front of 226 W. Jackson regarding Child Development and keeping it available at all colleges. I didn’t attend the press conference, but I did speak (for my new monthly activity!) at the board of trustee meeting.

There were so many addresses from faculty and students (and community members) on June 2. Kim Knutson spoke so eloquently about the new procurement bucket for city purchases and students spoke so powerfully about consolidating child development and the recently changed nursing requirements.

I provide my address below. The clip I refer to is hyperlinked in the text.


Good morning, Chair Middleton, trustees, Chancellor Hyman, esteemed colleagues, and honored guests.

My name is Kristin Bivens; I am faculty member from Harold Washington. My doctorate is in technical communication and rhetoric. And this fall, I will proudly celebrate ten years at HW.

You might remember me from last month. I spoke about the infancy of educational technology and caveat emptor; or being cautious, careful, and conscientious spending taxpayer monies on educational technologies.

Today, I want to further contextualize a framework for decision making regarding educational technology or ed tech.

I am a critic of science and technology. I imagine my mind is critical of technology because of two main factors: my grandma Bivens—who lived through the depression and modeled conscious consumption and spending money wisely; and my background and education in technical communication.

Last month, I invited you to be critics of educational technology with me and to embody, as is our responsibility, the spirit and practice of caveat emptor–let the buyer beware.

It might be that it is June, and my brain is relaxed by the sights and sounds of early summer in our Chicago, but I have been thinking about Clark Griswold a little bit.

Do you know the movies starring Chevy Chase as the patriarch of the Griswold family: the National Lampoons movies? If you remember Clark Griswold and his family, they were Chicagoans, too, who liked to vacation in places like Wally World, Vegas, and Europe. I appreciate a good vacation, too.

In National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation, Clark Griswold takes his family to the Hoover Dam. While on the Hoover dam tour, which included getting inside of the actual Hoover dam structure, Clark wanders away from the tour group, and notices there’s a leak in the actual dam.

He pulls chewing gum out of his mouth and seemingly and benevolently, he plugs the leak with his chewing gum in the wall.

For a moment, he stops the leak. Then, suddenly the leaking water is redistributed and  more leaks emerge.

Uh-oh.

As you can imagine the scene is quite humorous, and I remember laughing quite a bit when I viewed this movie as a younger woman because Clark pulls out more gum, chews it quickly, and plugs up the latest leaks.

For a moment, again, he stops those new leaks, but yet again, the leaking water is redistributed, and creates new leaks.

Clark ends up sneaking away from the mess he has created, leaving it for someone else to fix.

Sometimes, solving one problem creates new problems.

The takeaway from Clark’s Hoover Dam scene is we should endeavor to not create more problems with our solutions.

And if we don’t know, we should ask. I am sure if an engineer was standing next to Clark on the Hoover dam tour, he could have advised him to keep his gum in his mouth.

Chair Middleton and trustees: I hope you think about Clark Griswold when educational technology “solutions” are presented to you.

Thanks for your time and attention.

 

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