Honoring the past and focusing on the future

Over the past two days, I’ve been reading the comments posted by the
DEN community and wanted to take this opportunity to  respond.  First,
everyone at Discovery recognizes and respects the community’s concerns
and disappointment with what happened this week.  All of the DEN
managers were trusted colleagues and good friends and we will miss them

In the messages, I noticed that several people have asked if the DEN
is going away.  The answer is NO…you are the DEN; it can not be taken
away, only abandoned.  The DEN Field Managers are incredible educators,
leaders and most importantly, friends.  Over the past year and a half
they have worked tirelessly to celebrate and connect educators across
the globe and in the process have built an unparalleled community. 

So what is the answer?  What is the future of the DEN?  This is what
I know.  The employees who will be managing the DEN in the future are
deeply committed to sustaining this incredible community.  Right now,
our thoughts are not focused on the future, but on our friends and
colleagues.  We plan to provide all of you a roadmap of what comes next
soon.  Next week, Coni Rechner, Betsy Whalen, Hall Davidson, Steve
Dembo, Lance Rougeux, Jannita Demian and I will gather for a series of
meetings and brainstorm ways to provide ongoing support to the DEN. As
we discuss these future plans, we welcome your feedback and thoughts.

This week, I received an email from a Discovery Educator in
Florida.  Through my visits to Florida, I know this gentleman is a
close friend of Karen Seddon, our South Florida Field Manager.  He was
offering his services to help us at FETC manning the booth, presenting,
basically whatever he could do.  Last night I received another email
from him that was a ray of sunshine on what has been a very dark few
days.  In his email, he wrote, “Just to let you know I still believe in
COSMEO, unitedstreaming and the DEN and my offer is still there.”  His
email brought tears to my eyes.

From the beginning, the DEN was your community, and the nearly
20,000 Discovery Educators and 2500 STAR Discovery Educators your
colleagues.  We are still committed to both education and educators and
will continue to do our best to facilitate opportunities for DEN
members to connect with their most valuable resource…each other.  But
we can not do it alone, we need you.   

Scott Kinney
Director, Discovery Educator Network


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  1. Jeff Giddens said:

    This is Jeff Giddens and Daniel Rivera, from Georgia DEN. Like everyone else, we were stunned, baffled, and dismayed by the recent decision to remove the Field Managers – and in such an abrupt fashion. We harbor no ill will toward those at DEN who are still fortunate enough to have a job. Hall, Betsy, and others are decent people and we hold them in high esteem. We do, however, have a few problesm with individuals higher up the corporate chain at Discovery. We have been reading the responses to this fiasco and feel that we need to weigh in as well.

    We think that we should start explaining why we endorsed the DEN and why we truly felt that it was an exceptional organization. First and foremost, we valued the DEN because it was personal, warm, and human. There are many educational organizations out there, many membership cards with numbers that you can wear, and many networks that educators can join. Our DEN field manager, however, made us feel valued and respected for our expertise and opinions. She welcomed tech savy gurus and novices alike, and placed them in learning environments and social engagements that encouraged everyone to share and assist each other. Through her tireless efforts and kind actions, we learned first hand why Field Managers were critical.

    The Field Managers we observed were necessary people. They personally recruited, welcomed, and guided new participants. They shook hands, eased fears, encouraged us to work harder and put in time outside of already overwhelming schedules. Many of the DEN members we know have said that the Field Managers were the glue that held DEN together. We think they were the hubs of great wheels of learning. We met so many wonderful educators only because Katherine Aiken KNEW us, our talents, our likes, and our concerns, then placed us in contact with those that would help us or could be helped by us.

    Let us be crystal clear: The DEN was unique and valuable BECAUSE of the Field Managers. Without the FM’s, the DEN is just another network of folks trying to keep in touch – except that these folks are asked to sell a corporate product.

    As DEN members were and are asked to advocate (and some would say sell) Cosmeo and unitedstreaming. Being asked to promote commercial resources normally leaves a bad taste in our mouths. However, when Field Managers were in our midst demonstrating the worth of Cosmeo and unitedstreaming and sharing anncedotes and examples of how other educators integrated these resources into learning experiences we felt reassured. We felt that perhaps the DEN was different from other strictly profit-driven networks. The DEN was not about free marketing, but about helping educators and being a haven for them. The Field Managers were critical to maintaining that environment.

    We’re speaking in past tense because we feel that the DEN that we experienced this past year is gone–utterly and completely torn assunder. What remains is the battered and tattered shell of a once humanly-centered venture that has been replaced by a “more efficient”, less human and humane, corporate presence. We are confused about what has transpired. We feel as though this entire sequence of events is a mistake for the following reasons:

    -We have lost confidence in the DEN’s identity. How do we know that we’re not going to face continued abrupt changes without warning?
    -What’s going to happen to the support the Field Managers used to provide? If someone else is going to do this how will they rebuild the friendships that were nurture? If they aren’t going to foster existing frienships how will they be able to generate new ones now that the DEN’s personal side is gone?
    -DEN members were not consulted or warned about these changes. Numerous events were cancelled and people are in a state of limbo. It feels as though the heart of DEN has been ripped out leaving us feeling empty.
    -The change was far too abrupt. Perhaps a phase-out plan would have been better. If nothing else, it would have made more business sense to slowly phase out DEN’s key appeal rather than abrubtly cancel the very element that made the DEN unique. Educational organizations are a dime a dozen.
    -For goodness sake, it’s Christmas. Doesn’t anyone at Discovery have a heart? The intial post on the national blog gives the impression that Field Managers have been moved to part-time positions. In reality they are now looking for new jobs less than 3 weeks before Christmas. Even if Discovery needs to change the DEN’s structure, couldn’t the company given their workers notice? This entire epsiode is sordid and smacks of very bad corporate behavior.
    -Sure, we can pick up the torch and work together and we can do it without the DEN. The Field Managers, by virtue of their dedication, personalities and connections, created a network that was much more than the sum of its parts. The new DEN, tied together by a simple website, will not compare to what we had.
    -We feel cheated and used. Our time and effort has been thoughtlessly squandered.
    Like other educators stung by this disappointing descent into despair, we feel that our time is more well-spent engaging in ethically oriented practices–namely, creating, maintaining, and integrating learning networks that are and will be immune to managerial myopia. We want our time and relationships to be built on firm foundations that will not shift when the newest CEO comes to town.

    For that reason, we are leaving the DEN.

    We are sending back our Discovery lab coats.

    We are shutting down our DEN wiki at discoverthis.wetpaint.com .

    We are asking DEN not to show our Broken Bulb video .

    We are returning any and all materials from DEN-related/STAR Educator promotions.

    We are not recommending membership in the DEN or purchase of Cosmeo to the thousands of educators we, know, serve, and meet.


  2. Joe Finkelstein said:

    I had the pleasure of attending the Den Institute in Atlanta this past summer. It truly was the Most useful/fun/uplifting/… work related event that I have experienced in my 22 years since graduating from college. Several of those years were spent in the corporate world where, back in the 80’s, being wined & dined and invited to a myriad of boondoggles was a frequent perk of my jobs. However, I NEVER (NEVER) had experienced the camaraderie, respect and teamwork that I felt in Atlanta this Summer. Katherine, Danielle, and Brad hosted this incredible event. Scott, Hall, Annie, and the countless folks from GPTV added icing to the cake. I am very sad now, but I know that the outcome of those too few days has left me with a group of incredible friends throughout the entire Southeast that I feel closer to than to the majority of teachers that I have worked with for the last five years. How can that be? I pray that we will continue to make the DEN a valued entity.

    To Discovery and DEN employees — please Know that you don’t need to spend lots of money to buy us “things.” I love my jump drives, and Lab Coat, and computer bag; however; I would give it all back in a hearbeat to keep Katherine as our Field Manager. Please just find ways to continue to facilitate events in which educators can get together. You don’t know how priceless that has been.

  3. Danielle Abernethy said:

    Oh Joe, Daniel and Jeff! I’m ready to cry again!. I first met Jeff and Daniel when I was a technology coach attending the GAETC conference. They did a phemomenal presentation! That was 2005. A year later I got to meet them again at the South East Regional Institute. And I got to meet Joe. :-). Oh you three, I treasure all of the friendships I made in this experience. I value the knowledge I gained by all of you. I am so sad not to be in this role anymore, but I am thankful for all that I experienced.

    Thank you!

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