One Door Closes, Another One Opens

Well, I think this is exciting news…

After 8 years I’ve officially resigned from my tech integration role at PLC Sydney and, starting on January 1 next year, will be embarking on a whole new career adventure. I have taken up a fulltime position with EdTechTeam as their Director of Professional Development for Australia & New Zealand.

EdTechTeam is a California based company but has just started a local subsidiary here in Australia. As “a global network of educational technologists” with a mission of “improving the world’s education systems using the best learning principles and technology”, I’ve always been really impressed with what EdTechTeam are about. If you’ve ever been to a Google Apps for Education Summit, you’ve already had a small glimpse into the kinds of things EdTechTeam does, but there’s a whole lot of other things going on as well! Basically, imagine if you assembled a team of the most talented teachers in the world, who are all doing amazing things with technology in the classroom, and then ask them to go change the world. That’s what EdTechTeam is.

I’ve been doing work with EdTechTeam on a part time basis for the last few years, so I have a pretty good idea of what they are about; helping teachers understand and embrace the power of using digital technologies to improve student learning.

I’ve been teaching in schools for nearly 30 years now. I’ve taught both boys and girls, in public, catholic and independent schools, in Australia and Canada. I’ve left teaching twice already to try other things, but always managed to find my way back to it. I love teaching. I love working with kids. I don’t know of any other career that lets one make a dent in the future in quite the same way that teaching does. The thing I love about teaching is that it puts you in a position where you can make a difference.

That said, I think the work EdTechTeam is doing is impacting education on a much bigger scale. I think we are poised at an exciting moment in educational history, approaching a grand confluence of ideas, technologies and social change. I’ve been banging on about the need for change in schools and education for years now (as have many others) and I feel we are nearing a real tipping point in being able to create that positive change in education. If I can impact teachers – at scale – in helping drive that change, then that seems like a great place to direct my energy. As much as I will genuinely miss not being in classrooms with kids every day, the chance to have an impact on tens of thousands of educators each year, who then take that impact back into their own classrooms and apply it, seemed like an irresistible idea to me. In a school I might be able to influence 30 teachers. Last year EdTechTeam worked with over 30,000 teachers from around the globe. Many of those teachers went back to their schools and applied what we shared with them to dozens, or even hundreds, or kids. That’s what I find exciting!

As I cleaned out my desk at PLC last week, I was finding documents and items from the past eight years. It really struck me just how much change has happened in those eight years. When I arrived at PLC in 2008 the tools, technologies and ideas about teaching were quite different to how they look now. When I started at PLC we did not have Google Apps. There were no Chromebooks or iPads. The App Store was in its infancy. Google Drive had not been invented. Streaming music and video was almost unheard of. Working productively on a mobile device was not possible. The idea of storing files in “the Cloud” was not even in the public consciousness. Yet all of these technologies and ideas have completely redefined the day to day experience of a contemporary classroom.

Eight. Short. Years.

There’s no doubt that stepping away from something you’ve always done is scary. Teaching is what I’ve done for a very long time and I’m comfortable with it. I even think I’m reasonably good at it. It’s so easy to just keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s much harder to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

So here I go. Starting in January I’ll be working with many more teachers here in Australia and New Zealand, as well as other parts of the world too. I know I’ll probably see way too much of the inside of airplanes and I know I’ll miss the daily contact with students like crazy. But as Helen Keller once said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

The good part is that, along with my new colleagues, I’ll have the chance to work with teachers all over the world to create positive educational change and to help them see just how powerful learning can be with the right tools and ideas. I hope I get a chance to work with some of you over the next few years too.  Let’s change the world together.

CC BY-SA 4.0 One Door Closes, Another One Opens by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

22 Replies to “One Door Closes, Another One Opens”

    1. Thanks Corrie. It’ll be weird not rocking up to a school every day, but the autonomy will be nice. It might take me a while to get used to idea of not having a bell ring every every 55 minutes!

  1. Best wishes for your new endeavours Chris – I know you won’t need them though, as you are brilliant and inspiring in whatever you do!! I look forward to reading about your new ventures and hope I get to work with you some time.

  2. Good for you.

    However, understand what you are part of..

    you are the ‘sheep’s clothing’, bringing respectability to an off shore company which will structure account stop pay no tax.

    It will advocate using in the cloud technologies which do not adhere to Australian law and also pay no tax to ATO.

    Many of the ‘next generation standards’ often referred to are relevant only to California not to Australian curriculum, or in my case Victorian curriculum which has different structure and emphasis again.

    Again, i wish you well in your personal endeavours, however the politics is ever present.

    1. Gary, thanks for the well wishes.

      However, I can’t let your other points go unchallenged.

      While EdTechTeam did start in the US, the Australian subsidiary is run and managed right here in Australia, in fact in Melbourne. Not to be overly parochial about it, but I think we will be able to do a pretty good job of localising our work here… part of the reason for bringing me on board is to help make sure that happens. We are building a great local team to support the work we do with Australian educators, right here in Australia.

      For what it’s worth, EdTechTeam is a Benefits Corporation in California, which means we are not driven entirely by the need to generate profit or keep shareholders happy. As a Benefits Corporation we are able to make company wide decisions about our mission based on what we believe to be sound, ethical, sustainable choices, and not just what makes the most money. Personally, I think that’s a pretty big deal, and certainly something that influenced my decision to work with them. Like I mentioned in the post, I’ve been doing work with the team for a couple of years now and I feel very comfortable about their approach to what they do.

      Your point about paying no tax is just plain wrong. The Australian business will operate in Australia, under Australian law. We will meet all of our tax obligations as we are required to. By the way, as an ADE, you might want to rethink your criticism about aligning oneself with large corporations that do their best to pay no tax. Apple is not exactly a poster child for paying their fair share of taxes. (

      As for cloud services (and I’m assuming your implication is towards Google) being illegal in Australia, perhaps you could point me to the actual law that you feel is being broken. To the very best of my understanding (and trust me, I’ve looked into it quite deeply) the use of cloud services is perfectly legal and acceptable in Australia, despite the FUD that gets spread around by those who are either ill-informed or just plain gullible. Please don’t be one of those people who carry on about data sovereignty laws without really understanding them. By the way, where is your iCloud backup stored? Glass houses my friend…

      So thanks again for your well wishes, and I do hope we get a chance to discuss some of these other points in person some time.

  3. Brilliant and well deserved! Good luck! Will be hitting the shores of Oz again around June. So if you need one of those “the most talented teachers in the world, who are all doing amazing things with technology in the classroom, and then ask them to go change the world.” Let me know!! Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks Dorothy. I suspect it will! We have at least three Summits in NZ next year, but I’d love to get over for some other custom PD work as well. Love visiting NZ!

  4. Congratulations, Chris. I think your new job is a perfect fit for you and I like the fact that you are working for folks who “have the runs on the board” as far as edtech goes and are not just pop-up gurus (who I’m seeing more and more on social media tooting their own horn). I looked through the team on the site and while I don’t know all the names, there are people who I respect immensely for their work over an extended period of time – Chris Craft, David Jakes, Mark Wagner, Lisa Thumann are all educators who know their stuff and like yourself can point to a wide background of educational settings and experiences. Well done and I am sure that your travels will visit Adelaide over time.

    1. Thanks Graham, I appreciate you saying that. And ye, having the chance to work with people like you mentioned – Crafty, Mark, David, Lisa, all so many other incredible educators with great vision for what education can be. I’m pretty excited about where this is going.

      And yes, I agree with you about the “pop-ups”. I think there are some people who look at edtech events like conferences and summits. etc, and assume they can run one and make a quick buck from them. And maybe they can in the short term. But in the longer term, I think unless you are doing this stuff with an actual mission and passion for trying to change education for the better, then any success will be short lived.

      I believe we are doing what we do for the right reasons.

      Hope to see you around some time soon.

  5. Chris,
    I can understand your feelings about missing the classroom and kids. I also know you will be a great fit with the EdTechTeam as they are doing great work with schools and teachers. I can say that as I attended a Google Trainer boot camp done by the great Michael Wacker. I have also presented at their conferences so I get how they are attempting to also change PD. As I think about how far we have come since 1999 when I started my adventure, my mind is blown with respect to the tools, technology and pedagogical changes. I like how EdTechTeam donates funds to help those learners who do not have access to these tools since we all know not everyone is a connected learner. Perhaps the tax laws need fixing just like the school funding laws need to reflect where we are as countries. I still like the old saying: “It will be a great day when the Air Force needs to hold a bake sale to raise the funds needed to buy weapons with schools having all the funds they need to teach.

    Good luck as I await the ripples of change from down under to hit the shores of the US which will release more energy into change here. The world is so small now as I have learned from you over the years via the podcast and your blog. Keep up the work and outreach you have been doing as I have found it very valuable.

    Bring on 2016!

    1. Hi Karl. Yes, bring on 2016, indeed!

      Thanks for you comment and your supportive words. Much appreciated. Like I said before, I really think EdTechTeam has its priorities right and is doing what it does for the right reasons. I wouldn’t be interested in working with them if I thought that wasn’t the case.

      Good point about the funding of education. I’m looking forward to that bake sale too. 🙂

      Thanks for connecting.

  6. Fabulous news Chris. EdTechTeam is such an amazing resource and you expertise and experience can only add to it. I will look forward to your contributions and perhaps catch you in the next webinar.

  7. Hi. I stumbled across this post while researching technology in education blogs and I found the discussion on EdTechTeam very interesting. I teach at a high school in Los Angeles, California and I have not heard of them. They were started in California, correct? From the previous comments on the post it’s not clear to me if EdTech Team is a for-profit company or a non-profit? Or is it something in between? I am looking for groups to recommend to my principal for our faculty professional development days that can help our staff learn more about good educational technology tools and how to use them. Unfortunately, paying for-profit companies is not something she really wants to do. Would EdTech Team do a quick presentation at a high school for free, or at minimal cost? They would be able to ask faculty to pay to attend further workshops, etc. Some of us would do it, since we receive “salary points” for attending, or we have the option also of getting it paid for by the principal. Is this something that might be possible? And how can I contact someone in or near Los Angeles? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nicole! Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you stumbled by here. 🙂 Yes, EdTechTeam was started in Cali, and is actually based in Irvine, OC. We have expanded globally over the past few years, hence my involvement with the team here in Australia as we start a local subsidiary here. The company is registered as what’s known as a “California Benefits Corporation”, which is, as you surmised, somewhere between a for-profit and a non-profit company. You can read more about what that means in this Wikipedia article…
      Because we are not beholden to simply operating for profit, we can make operational decisions based on our mission to improve the world’s education systems, and not just a sole focus on the bottom line. We also give away a significant amount of money back to the community each year in the form of grants and scholarships. You can read a little more about that idea in this post, and also in this post from Mark Wagner, who originally started EdtechTeam.
      As for your request about PD, why don’t you get in touch with the team in LA and have a chat with them and see what they can do for you?
      Thanks again for the comment!

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