Saturday, July 24, 2010

Angry Dinosaurs

I had the pleasure of attending Higher Ed Camp today at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. It was an incredible day of learning. However, the big "take away" for me was the concept (and possible misconception) surrounding "angry dinosaurs."

What are "angry dinosaurs," you ask? Well, some people use the phrase to describe veteran professionals in an organization that resist change. The colorful phrase was noted to be especially applicable to technology by the group.

Well, I must tell you that I disagree with this concept. To me, it is nothing more than a stereotype. Anyone can be an "angry dinosaur." I've met many veteran teachers that are hungry for new knowledge and I've met some young teachers that were completely void of any passion or inspiration.

For me, the key component of the "angry dinosaur" is the "angry" part. People who cannot laugh and see the benefit of experimentation struggle with change and lifelong learning. So, take a chance in your instruction next September. Be a "happy dinosaur!"

What do you think?

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  1. I must be one of the lucky ones. While I have teachers who are uncomfortable with technology, I haven't had any "angry dinosaurs". If we can give our teachers a "WOW!" - that is, a useable exciting tool tailored to them, and support them effectively, they are less likely to be "angry dinosaurs" against technology and instead be "roaring lions" in favor of technology. My PLN gives me the resources to do that. Hurray for my PLN!

  2. I love the idea of "roaring lions." I think it is important to reframe veteran professionals as people who are eager and ready to learn. After all, they have so much to contribute to our educational institutions!

  3. The tech world has a layer of 'angry dinosaurs' in the management ranks. They have ended up this way most likely due to years of 'fighting the good fight', acquiring responsibilities that are more aligned with stability and reliability than innovation and experimentation, and the slow retreat towards sticking with what they know.

    I have encountered these people in just about every organization I've consulted with. In every case it's taken more time, effort and politicking to get anything outside of their established patterns implemented, even if the 'new' thing was clearly in the best interests of the institution.

    It is always possible to meet institutional requirements using new techniques and technologies, but the 'angry dinosaur' response is disproportionately negative to the mere suggestion of change. This invites the innovators to either play politics and go over their heads or embrace the 'agility of the new' and get subversive. Either way, tossing rocks at the dinosaurs is really the only way we have to let off the frustration at having to route around them!

  4. Thanks for your thoughts. I like how you framed the idea of an "angry dinosaur" as a response instead of a specific set of people. That made me think. Hmm....



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