Johanna Riddle '80 uses technology to engage a new generation of learners

Johanna Riddle '80 teaches a multi-generational class at the 2009 International Student Media Festival in Kentucky. Credit: Johanna Riddle '80
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: April 10, 2010

Teaching is not confined to the classroom. Or at least that's Johanna Riddle's '80 motto.
Having held a myriad of educational positions, including traditional classroom teacher, museum curator, district administrator and most recently, media specialist, Johanna has tried her hand at almost every aspect of education.
Her current weekly schedule includes teaching and providing media and technology services to students, mentoring first-year teachers, and speaking and training in both live and virtual venues. Outside of her weekly regimen, she finds time to do what she does best - write.
Fueled with the desire to pave an easier path for her fellow educators, Johanna created a teacher's handbook that demonstrates how to merge 21st century technology with traditional classroom instruction.
"Today's teachers find themselves in unique and demanding times," Johanna says. "I try to provide teachers and administrators with strategies that show them they can resolve these different demands. I want them to understand they play a vital role in contributing to the changing face of education."
In her book, Engaging the Eye Generation, Johanna focuses on how the demands of the 21st century not only brought about technological advances in the classroom but how it permanently altered the role of the teacher.
"Technology has broadened education into a much more personalized and on-demand experience," Johanna says. "It also has drastically changed the role of the teacher, from purveyor of information to frame worker, collaborator and manager. That's a huge shift - one that many educators and administrators are still trying to wrap their minds around."
Drawing on her 25 years of experience as a teacher, Johanna hopes to encourage other educators with her words.
"When I dove into educational writing, I decided to become a risk taker. That meant making my work transparent and sharing my experiences honestly," she says. "Like every teacher, I'm learning along the way. Things don't always work out perfectly. Many valuable lessons come out of initiatives that don't always go as planned."
And one of the ways she is learning along the way is by actively engaging in the learning environment. In 2007, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study the educational systems in China, and this year she is traveling to Italy to speak to and learn from fellow teachers overseas.
As a fifth-generation teacher, Johanna believes her desire to better herself as an educator was instilled in her from birth.
"I do believe that true teachers are born and not made," she says. "It's like any passion - there is an innate compulsion to engage in a lifelong spiral of learning and practice and to explore every facet of that discipline or skill that holds so much fascination and potential."
While Johanna has been fortunate to sample every aspect of education, she considers all educators - whatever title or rank they assume - to be just as important as the rest.
"Any teacher who offers the profession their utmost will never have to wonder whether or not their life has meaning," Johanna says. "They know, without doubt, that they are making a positive contribution in their little corner of the world. And in the long run, that is no small thing."