"Can you tell us briefly how you use technology outside of the classroom?"This was one of the first questions posed by the panel in the interview I had today for our new Instructional Technology Specialist in the district. The job of an ITS was pretty well broken down by +MaryBeth Hertz in Edutopia, so I'll direct you there if you want details. (Mentoring and Coaching for Effective Tech Integration)
I really wanted to answer this question with a simple response like, "For everything." I mentioned the media center PC we have for DVR and streaming, app use, and social media, but I concluded with this:
"I basically have my iPad with me at all times, which means there's rarely a scenario in which I don't use it (especially since I don't have a smartphone). It even went to prom with me last year. My friends give me a hard time about it, but if you know me, you also get it."
(I was even using it at that very moment to record audio with my favorite note-taking app, Notability)
The response still didn't feel done. Then, I thought about my toilet.
About a month ago, the rod that connects our flapper chain to the handle snapped. Off to Home Depot I trudged, hoping only to fix it in the least time possible. Because of the setup of my toilet, most of the "universal" handle assemblies did not fit (which I found out after attempt #1), so I was going to have to pay more than average for my part. Enter the DuoFlush.
The DuoFlush works mechanically to control the amount of water used in a flush to save water. We'd been eyeing a DuoFlush toilet at Sam's Club for about a year, but it seemed impractical to replace our entire toilet for the sake of the environment (water conservation isn't so much an issue here). We took home this adapter that replaces the conventional flapper in your tank and now have a super (green) toilet.
What does plumbing have to do with teaching and education technology?
I am the only one I know that has a a dual flush, water saving toilet. It's not a sexy, digital technology or an app, but its certainly an innovation. When the extent of your early adoption habits stretches to the bathroom, you're probably willing to try anything (and everything) in the name of enhancing student achievement.
What my toilet means for leading the integration of technology in your school is that everyone has a starting point and a comfort level with technology. Our work lives and characteristics (usually) mirror many traits of our personal lives. When I think about getting teachers to buy in to a new tool or instructional method in their classroom, I think everyone has a "what's in it for me" point at which they'll adopt. When the personal benefit outweighs the cost (time, risk, change), an individual will be open to the innovation.
I think just about every one of my formal evaluations and summative evaluations on file mention that I'm creative and good with tech integration, and I've been building the reputation among my peers as well, but I'm more than happy to point to my toilet.