If you're so passionate about ed tech you can't help spreading the
word to every educator you meet, you might be an advocate.
If you've got a
vision for how technology can transform the way students learn, you might be an
For teacher educator Dennis McElroy, getting involved with advocacy
has been less about becoming an ed tech advocate and more about realizing he
already was one.
"Some people think being an advocate is kind of a scary
proposition, that's it's a really difficult thing to do, but it's not," he said.
"I tell future teachers that whatever subject they teach, they have to take
their passion for that subject and share it with their students. That's advocacy
in a nutshell. Take your passion for ed tech, and share it with other
"It's not a big step."
As a district technology coordinator — and later a tech consultant
for the Iowa Department of Education — McElroy was frequently called on to
provide a voice for technology's role in education. It wasn't until he became
actively involved with ISTE's advocacy
efforts that he realized just how
important it is for every educator to speak up about the importance of
technology in the classroom.
"Getting involved literally has changed my perspective on a lot of
things," he said. "It made me much more informed on a broader set of issues, and
that just reignited my passion even further for the things that need to be
from the Washington Ed Tech Summit
Last spring, McElroy took his advocacy efforts to the next level by
attending the Washington Ed Tech Policy
Summit, which gave him a close-up view of
the state of politics in Washington as well as a deeper understanding of the
policy issues surrounding education.
"It was eye opening, being exposed to the passion the people on the
hill have for what they're doing out there and what they're trying to get
accomplished," he said. "I came to realize just exactly how much politicians
have to know about issues and the degree to which their staff has to conduct
research and keep them informed. It was really mind boggling," he
Another big eye opener was learning about the role of the E-Rate
program in bringing internet connectivity to schools around the
"What frightened me about that was that I served on the local
school board for a few years, and we never once talked about E-Rate. After
getting out of the summit with a new understanding of what E-Rate impacts, I was
shocked and to some degree mortified that this is happening on a lot of school
boards, that they aren't paying attention to things like this that impact
The experience inspired him to contact the Iowa Technology
Education Connection, ISTE's affiliate in Iowa, and volunteer to lead the
organization's advocacy charge.
"It gave me a sense of urgency and purpose," he said of the summit.
"Someone needs to be pushing these issues out in front of the
to be an advocate
It's a concept Martin Luther King Jr. understood well: Before you
can effect change, you have to be able to dream it.
"The first thing you've got to do is be willing and able to dream.
What do you want to see happen?" McElroy said. "It's about not accepting status
quo but having that dream of what things really could be
Once you develop your vision, he added, you can get involved at the
local level by:
- Signing up for the ISTE Advocacy
- Joining your school district's technology committee.
- Creating professional learning opportunities to share
your knowledge with other educators.
- Joining your nearest ISTE affiliate
organization and attending its conferences.
- Volunteering as a leader for your affiliate
"Take your dream with you every step of the way," he said. "That
dream is going to evolve as you get exposed to things, but that's what drives
your passion and your involvement."
an outstanding ed tech advocate who's working hard to transform education?
Nominate them for ISTE's Public Policy Advocate