In a shocking move that I think will seriously hurt the cause of technology integration and the promotion of digital literacy across the United States, Discovery Education last week informed about 100 regional field managers in the Discovery Education Network that they were being terminated as employees, and had 4 weeks of severance pay. This blog post on the official DEN blog gives more details, and many responses in the 80+ comments are heated and passionate.

My first contact with DEN was in March 2005 when I attended SITE and FETC in Orlando and participated in a local DEN meet-up with Will Richardson, Dean Shareski, Tim Wilson, Steve Dembo, and others. My thought at that time was: What a GREAT model the Discovery Education folks have come up with for DEN, to promote conversations and learning among in-service K-12 teachers. I thought at the time that DEN meet-ups and the digital DEN network provided an ideal chance for larger numbers of K-12 teachers to learn from each other and teach each other about digital education in the 21st century.

I am very sad to learn that Discovery Education has made this decision to fire so many (almost all apparently) of their DEN field managers. This comment posted to the DEN blog by Sonja Phillips reflects the importance of maintaining RELATIONSHIPS and people-to-people connections as we seek to promote the cause of engaged digital learning in schools:

By removing our field managers you have essentially unplugged the DEN. Our field managers made this network what it is today. They brought in the human factor as a contact person who was always there to guide you and help you on your journey. They empowered us to be better teachers and continue learning and applying new things. They were motivating and inspired us to reach higher. Karen Seddon and Danielle Abernethy went above and beyond and I will definitely miss working with them. To me, they were the face of Discovery and it won’t be the same without them. I feel like you have just taken my best friends away and I’m lost without them. This is truly a time of mourning for all DEN members.

Online learning and blended learning can be great, but we should not underestimate the value provided by human technology bridges– something I wrote about on the ITM blog a few weeks ago, and a role I think the DEN field managers filled quite well by most accounts.

This is an unfortunate decision also because of its timing, just before the Christmas holidays. All is not lost, but this is a major setback. 🙁 Best wishes for the DEN field managers now job hunting right before Christmas…..

For more on this, check out Eric Langhorst’s post and the thoughts of commenters on his blog. Eric also linked to an article about this in the Washington Post, titled “Discovery Cuts 84 Education Group Jobs.”

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4 Responses to Discovery Education field managers fired

  1. We were JUST talking about this last night. Kathy and I were skyping and she mentioned it to me — and it was in total disbelief that we started googling for details.

    I wish to know more — because there HAS to be more.

    There are several blog posts that are saying how disappointed that they are and how they would return ALL the free stuff that they have been given, just to bring back the Field Managers.

    This has stayed pretty “hush hush” and I was surprised that no one had really blogged about it. And I am wondering HOW this decision will really impact what they do??

    Having personableness with such a BIG enterprise is a true necessity and I wonder that it, by taking away that personableness many feel, will end up hurting them in the end.

    I KNOW there has to be more of this iceberg of an announcement than we can see.
    Jennifer

  2. […] One thing has become increasingly clear throughout the public outcry over last weeks events; we struck upon something with the Discovery Educator Network that went way beyond a few products for teachers to use in the classroom. And I’m not the only one who noticed this. From Wes Fryer: What a GREAT model the Discovery Education folks have come up with for DEN, to promote conversations and learning among in-service K-12 teachers. I thought at the time that DEN meet-ups and the digital DEN network provided an ideal chance for larger numbers of K-12 teachers to learn from each other and teach each other about digital education in the 21st century. […]

  3. Hi Wesley-
    I was one of the field managers – actually the North Florida Field Manager. We met at the FETC Meet the Blog Winners Dinner. Thank you for your thoughts.

  4. Debbie Bohanan says:

    Thanks for quoting me on your blog. Danielle and Karen were wonderful field managers. This is a great loss for Discovery and a huge void in the lives of DEN members. They are both so professional and have handled the situation with dignity. They still support the work of the DEN and hope that it continues to be a successful network for teachers.

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