Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Technology Scapegoat...

A teacher recently told me they did not use technology in their classroom. Taken aback I asked why. The teacher simply said they did not trust the technology and they did not want to look like a fool in front of the students. I think to myself; so you are are afraid to look human in front of students?

Last night on #edchat we had an engaging discussion about why some teachers and administrators place the blame on lack of student engagement and failing curriculums on technology. There are teachers just like the one here, every where, who continue to not use technology. Not because they don't see the benefits (most of the time they do) but for other, more trivial reasons. Here is what some participants had to say:
  • As an administrator I need to provide support for teachers to help them seamlessly integrate the tech into their instruction. We need to push them and provide them with the research based tools to make the integration successful. Tech is not a method or approach anymore than paper and pencil would be considered.
  • Engaging students is difficult if we don't really know them (ability and learning style) and what interests them. There is no one magic silver bullet strategy if we don't know the kids. And that means taking risks as teachers - sharing our failures as learning lessons, modeling that we are learners as well as teachers and taking risks. Technology is not to blame - it may sometimes help to engage but it can also help to distract. We can be good teachers with or without technology - we just need to define good teaching.
  • I think it is the lack of knowledge of teachers on how to use technology that is the problem and their unwillingness to learn it thinking it will all go away. I use technology in my classes everyday with gen ed kids and ELL kids, my students are comfortable with the technology because that is their world.
  • Well, as a parent and someone who's back in school to become a teacher, I find that fostering critical thinking skills is way more important than having them memorizing. Once they are given a good foundation with critical thinking skills they can then look at things with an abstract view which is lost when a child has to memorize something. If children does not have critical thinking tech can and will be a very dangerous tool. If a child understands that all things can be question in a rational manner, such as why, or what may make one article more credible then the other on the same subject, yet different view, then and only then will tech reach it's fullest potential in the school system.
  • We need to educate parents, school boards and administrators on how the new technology can be used effectively in classrooms. Schools of Education have to train and model their students in the proper use of technology in all subject areas. Technology needs to be infused in all subject areas across all grade levels. Each school should have a technology leader who can model and show teachers how to get the best use of the new technology that is available to them. Students should be used to help promote the use of technology and in many cases they are more versed than their teachers.

There were more great comments and you can read them here.

It is so frustrating to me when I have a very qualified teacher, who understands student learning, who understands that we need to be integrating technology in the classroom, that refuses to use technology in their classroom because they are scared.

Granted, the use of technology can be scary. Smartboards, handhelds, Minis, Tablets, all these expensive hardware options placed in the hands of teachers can be overwhelming. But again, I ask, why are teachers afraid of looking human in front of their students?

News Flash! Technology is going to fail you at some point. A website is not going to work. The You Tube video that worked yesterday is blocked today. You just cant get that Smartboard (or ActivBoard) to work the way it's supposed to. It's going to happen. And you know, that's alright!

Is it ok that your students know more than you when it comes to technology? Heck yeah! That is a power that few have tapped into. I love it when I go into a class and I see a teacher who just can't remember how to pull up the drawing tools in Smart Notebook or how to get the laptop connected to the projector. Instead of just giving up or moving on (What does that teach kids anyway?), he/she turns to the class and asks if anyone can figure it for them. I have never seen so many hands go up at once! Kids are eager to share what they know! Did the teacher really not remember where the tools were? Maybe? Only they know. The point is, all the kids know is they have the opportunity to teach the teacher. That is powerful! We need to harness that and leverage it to our advantage as educators.

One of the other underlying problems that was exposed last night was it is not the fault of the teacher. The fault goes higher than that. Some administrators do not foster an environment where technology is a key component. Some administrators are willing to buy the technology and put it in the hands of the teachers but are unwilling or unable to provide the time to train in their use. I agree, those are big problems, sometimes the direct fault of the local administrator, sometimes not.

The point of all this is, lets stop the blame all together. Teachers, stop blaming the technology and use it already! Administrators, its time to provide support to the teachers so they can feel comfortable using these tools with their students. Blaming is not moving the conversation forward or changing anything for the better. So instead of placing the blame somewhere else, lets all work together because its about the kids, isn't it?

What do you think? Is it just easy to blame the technology or is it something else that is the root cause? Is it the teachers, administrators, or some other entity that is holding us back? I welcome your comments.ed

Image from Google CC Image Search. View the original here.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Steven W. Anderson,
    I think both are related, refusing to use technology because of tech-capability, animadversion, placing responsibility, facing new competences; in other words, root cause biases towards some teachers to blame the technology. The point of all this is, at first, government accountabilities in the education system including ministers, directors, coordinators, administrators, etc. sincerely prejudice us in not trusting the technology due to lacking of appropriate training in using ICT tools rather than uselessly wasting the budge (trivial reasons?). However, there are a great amount of teachers, every where, who have starting to use technology by themselves, taking into account the empowering benefits they are doing. As you say "they did not want to look like a fool in front of the students" but a Networked Teacher of the 21st Century.
    I've just tweeted and bookmarked your post.

    Many thanks.

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