About My Book: Missing Voices in Edtech #corwince

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 6.29.10 PMAbout a month after Educon 2014, I was approached to join a group of “connected educators” to write one short book in a series aimed to help schools understand a plethora of topics about being a connected educator. This opportunity came about as a result of the conversation about diversity led by Audrey Watters and Jose Vilson. I like to refer to it as the moment when I found my voice.

Initially, I started writing about the conference circuit which led me to more research than I could possibly squeeze into 64 pages. I had every intention of writing about the lack of people of color and women in keynote and featured conference roles and I started writing all about how we (POC/Women) can be experts of so many tools/ideas yet are rarely given the same platform to share as many of our peers.

I found preposterous examples of tech companies hiring “Booth Babes” for the educational tech circuit in which models aren’t hired based on knowledge and skills but initially by physical attributes. (Bra size was choice #1) Unlike the “Booth Babes” of the gaming tech circuit, these ladies dressed in anything from polo shirts and khakis to pencil skirts and high heels. (I actually kept this reference in the title on my chapter about women)

Why is that? Well, it’s because the majority of school edtech decision makers are men so hiring “hot models” is a common ploy to get those decision makers into the vendor booth. This seemed to be common practice at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio where “event modeling” companies not only boasted about their ladies working the event but posted plenty of pictures. I nearly threw my computer upon reading this line… “Our ladies can learn anything well enough to increase your sales tremendously” because clearly, nothing sells software and expensive computers to schools like hiring a group of models to sell it.

As for the research of this…A simple web search of conference models + conference and year is all that it took. Enjoy!

In the end, after months of rewrites, sharing, living and learning…the entire theme of my book changed. I had a lot of aggressions about so much of the negative stuff that happens and I found that my book lost focus. I didn’t want to write a book that simply pointed out “the things” without giving solutions. In addition, I didn’t want to write something that did not speak to my intended audience…schools. I wanted to share thinking points, ideas and stories of the differences that can be made by intentionally seeking input from certain marginalized voices.

While I do recognize that diversity carries many meanings, I chose to directly focus on four while indirectly interweaving others.

About My Book

My Book, The Missing Voices of Edtech: Bringing Diversity into Edtech (Corwin Press, Connected Educators Series) is a personal experiential reflection of how teachers, students, women and people of color are often not heard when it comes to technology initiatives in schools. Yes, there are fabulous women in tech leadership all over the country but there are still far too many schools that lack such. There are amazing technologist of color but I can count the visibility of them on my hands. As for teachers, we know how that goes…the tool shows up in a classroom for teachers to figure it out. And students? They have opinions, needs and ideas. We must engage them more. We don’t do that enough.

Within my book are also contributions, vignettes, from a few members of my connected community. I will forever be grateful to Aimee Bartis, Lisa Johnson and Rachelle Wooten for sharing their journeys and perspectives. I also have two former students who proudly shared theirs. One of which, hand wrote his story on a paper tablet during his factory job break. (While meeting with me at Starbucks, to learn a few more skills, he has since created his first email address which is amazing since he is a recent graduate of a “tech heavy” school.)

While I thought that I wanted to add my voice to the non-diverse tech conference/edtech company circuit, I am actually thankful for the months of delays that led to my final product because at the end of the day, if we don’t address the embedded problems in school tech thinking, there is zero room for change beyond.

Why Diversity Matters (a snippet of thought from my book)

Diversity matters because with understanding comes intentional thought. A single person or group of non-diverse decision makers without an understanding of their learners decides based on the lens of their own view. They tend to look at scenarios from the scope of numbers and not need. On the other hand, a group that reflects the differences of the impacted learners as well as a collection of varying yet open ideas will almost always address the needs first to align with the numbers. Diversity matters in EdTech because not all tools, devices, apps, and ideas are created equally—nor are learners


My book is available for pre-sale NOW and will release January 2015.

The Missing Voices in EdTech

Comments 11

  1. Wow, Rafranz, this is amazing — and powerful! Having spent 20+years in Silicon Valley before returning to teaching, I echo your words about the high costs of the lack of diversity throughout the tech sector. One reason the thinking in high tech has become so impoverished, in my view, is that there is an echo chamber at the top. New ideas and new voices rarely get a hearing because no one in the room can hear anything except what they say to themselves. Ack! I’ve preordered your book and cannot wait to read it.

    Thanks for a great blog and post.

    – Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

    1. Post

      Oh my gosh! What you just said was so profound and it’s really no different in certain sectors of k12 Edtech. I am lucky that I currently work in a place where that is not the case but wow have I been in some spaces where it was! I would love to sit down and talk to you one day about your experiences! Thank you so much!

    1. Post

      Thank you John! Of course I am a bit nervous about the way that it’ll be received but I am eager to hopefully have even more conversations beyond those that we have had thus far. I have to say that I don’t know which part made me more nervous…hitting publish on this post or hitting send on the last edit of my book!

    1. Post

      Thank you Renee! It was tough one to condense into so few pages because all that I wanted to say could not be said. However, we will have extended conversations and that is exactly what we need.

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  3. I am looking for to reading your book Rafranz. I ordered a copy for myself and another one of my edtech friends as a present. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

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