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EdTech: Looking for Sputnik

by Patrick Aievoli, Associate Professor and Director, Interactive Multimedia Program, C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and Founder/Managing Partner/COO, DigiEd Incorporated

Welcome to the first installment of EdTech. This column will focus on the developing and proper use of your tax dollars via the combination of education with technology.

Technology has always been used in education, from the early days of chalk and a board to the days of PowerPoint and the bored (students). I have been in Higher Education for almost 25 years. I am admittedly a technophile, but I rarely use technology in the classroom. I use it after class in the form of blogs, audio/video links, hyperlinks, and basically just to get the information out to my students. In the classroom I do use source materials but they can be anything. It has never been about the coolest gadget (although I did requisition an iPad back in November ’09 before they were even introduced), it is about the realization that a wealth of information is now available at no cost, everyday, through numerous venues.


I send e-mails out at 6 a.m. to my students. They all ask, “When do you sleep?” Very simple answer—10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. like normal working folk. Not much goes on after 10 p.m. that isn’t available on YouTube or Hulu or wherever. It is no longer about appointment entertainment. It is about freedom of choice.

What does this have to do with education? Simple again—students/teachers whomever can chose to do their research whenever and wherever they feel comfortable. If the library is closed, there’s a simple workaround—go online and get a reputable source for your research. No, not (although they are getting much better), go to any of the billions of sites and find reputable sources. There are a number of them out there. More about that later—remember it is not about the article, it is about the bibliography. (Yogurt – SpaceBalls – 1987? Look it up on later.)

Validated, reputable, vetted, source materials make an education work. The immortal question, “Who said so?” remains the best question. That and telling yourself, “I do not know”—or in my native tongue—“Io non lo so.” It is the basis for educating oneself. Who knew it was Socrates’ motto. I had a very bad education. If it weren’t for my mother I would never have learned a thing. (Notice the reference to parent involvement?)

Does it take a village? In my case it was a small multi-cultural hamlet on the South Shore. Everybody’s parents were focused on one thing—get an education. My generation of the family are all Ph.Ds, M.A., M.S. or whatever. We were taught to work hard in school, like most of our generation. However, we did have the 1960s there for a while. So there was temptation. How did we manage to focus on our studies? Simple! We were scared to hell of our parents. There was no CPS, there was, “OMG they are going to kill me if I show him this report card.” Were there shenanigans going on? Of course there were—everyday. It was the ’60s into the ’70s, but somehow we all made it through, with a tough guiding hand. Oops! Parental reference again.

Was it easier? No! My father worked seven days a week and built both of our houses from the dirt up, literally. It has always been about hard work. Was there MTVCribs? No, there was the Five Towns, with saunas in the houses and wine cellars and Cadillacs and bling before it was bling. Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts. Every generation faces difficulties.

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