Hi everyone! As the title says, my name is Chris Dawson. Some of you know me from my weekly webcasts with Kirsten on review:ed. Others of you may read my posts over on ZDNet Education or we may have run into each other via WizIQ. This quick post, though, is for those of you with whom I’ve never had the opportunity to tweet, meet, or otherwise connect. Since I’m now an official co-host on review:ed, Kirsten has invited me to post on Edukwest when inspiration strikes. I have a few posts in mind already that are probably better suited to a more edupreneurial audience, but for now I’ll just stick with an introduction. The story of my Twitter handle is probably as good a place as any to start.
Once upon a time, I worked at Johns Hopkins, analyzing clinical trial data and teaching classes on SAS to public health grad students. The MD-PhD’s just loved being taught by a mere undergrad working his way through college </sarcasm>, but it was a pretty good place to cut my teeth both as a researcher and an educator. It wasn’t too long until a job offer with a big Cambridge biotech firm brought me and my family to Massachusetts. While the job rocked out loud for the first year as we became the first biotech to submit a drug application electronically to the FDA (literally a tractor-trailer full of data was replaced by 6 DVDs), it quickly turned into a corporate grind. When I had the chance to teach technology, math, and physics at my local high school, I jumped on it. I also became the “tech guy” at the school and to compensate for the extreme cut in pay that came with a jump from Cambridge-biotech-with-two-blockbuster-drugs to rural-first-year-high-school-teacher, I also started writing ZDNet’s new blog covering the ed tech vertical. At the same time, I discovered Twitter and since all of my students called me Mr. D, I took the persona online and became “Mr. D at Athol High School” (aka, @mrdatahs).
For years, I asked my school district to hire a Director of Technology. Someone needed to be looking holistically at the use of technology district-wide, developing related curriculum, and thinking strategically about purchases and objectives around ed tech. Not surprisingly, when the district finally decided to create the position, I stepped into it. For two years, I beat my head against a wall trying to do all of those great, holistic, strategic things with tech in our schools. We had some wins, but often, I was simply the best-qualified tech in the district and spent many a night pulling cable or rebuilding servers instead of developing curriculum or delivering PD to teachers.
While the @mrdatahs moniker stuck, I knew it was time to take the next step in my career and started freelancing full-time. I stumbled on WizIQ writing an article comparing it to Adobe Connect Pro and the rest is history. This year, I’ve resolved to write more, talk more, use video more, and expand my audience as the potential of ed tech explodes and budgets, especially in public schools, implode. There is more to talk about this year than ever before. So here I am! You can catch me on Twitter under my outdated handle that, while from a very different point in my professional journey, still reflects my commitment to education. I’m looking forward to the conversation.