Sunday, October 21, 2012

Are You Afraid to Use Technology in the Classroom?

Well, you found your way to this blog post, so you are over the hump. But are you ready to implement blogs or other forms of technology in your classroom? Are you afraid that if you try to use a piece of technology, things won't work? Do you see in your experiences of working with teachers that they are afraid of using technology in the classroom or with students?

Today, I came across a post on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog maintained by the popular educational leader Scott McLeod. He wrote a blog post, Struggling with Educators' Lack of Technology Fluency.  He posted it Oct. 20 and by mid-day of Oct. 21, the post already saw over 40 comments,  at least 150 tweet-outs excluding retweets or tweets that did not come directly off the site, and 28 "Likes" on Facebook. Evidently, there's strong reaction to the issue.

Given the timeliness of the post, I encourage you to read both the post and comments following it. Please feel free to leave a comment here regarding your response to the issue of educators' fluency with technology. Do you think there is a lack of fluency and if so, what do see as the cause? Do you even think this is an important issue to consider? Where do you stand on the issue?

12 comments:

Brianna said...

It is a growing concern that veteran teachers, who have been teaching without technology for years are not embracing the new opportunities today. I can argue that they did just fine without technology- I turned out okay. But with new teachers bringing technology in with them, the differences between classrooms can be more visible. Not only is there a wider gap between classrooms, but districts are moving towards computer based grading and report card programs. I have a teacher who comes to me frequently because she can't figure out TAC, our online grading program. She still rolls in the TV to show a movie and only takes her students to the lab when they have computer class. I do think this is a growing issue, but technology doesn't need to take over. You don't have to use it for every lesson. That's where we get hung up, this feeling of all or nothing and what we need is balance, we need to start veterans off slowly and show them the amazing things we are doing. They might just ask you to show them how to do that!

hmcnally said...

Scott McLeod has been on this train for at least 3 years, and he's right:

http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2009/08/im-not-good-at-math-im-not-very-good-at-computers.html

The comment on the more recent post that tossed rocks at students' computer incompetencies...

http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2012/10/struggling-with-educators-lack-of-technology-fluency.html/comment-page-1#comment-288300

was also insightful. It's a pop culture construct that children are good with computers. They are not, for the most part.

Scott McLeod said...

I think most educators are trying. Progress is much slower than it should be for most of us, often because we don't treat it as important (and thus don't find the time) and/or because our school system PD mechanisms are terrible and/or because we're not very good learners (yes, I know that's ironic)...

Shouldn't we be embarrassed that it takes us years to learn what many 10-year-olds can learn in a few minutes/hours?

Rachael said...

I see many seasoned teachers that are struggling to implement technology in their classrooms. While it's not expected for every teacher to be technologically proficient and to infuse it into everything they do, navigating a website and/or SMARTboard should be the least they know how to do. I think the real issue here is a lack of professional development in this area. There is so much PD dedicated to curriculum and instruction, and the technology piece is getting lost. This is scary because many teachers are getting left behind in the world of technology and will end up more and more frusterated as new tools and gadgets come out. Technology in the classroom is inevitable and more needs to be done so that all of our teachers are trained and comfortable using even the most basic of tools.

Danielle N. said...

In my experience, I see both teachers and ed leaders who are embracing technology and who are excited to learn more about it and implement it in the classroom, as well as teachers who are afraid of it and shy away from it as much as possible until it becomes a requirement. I admit that I tend to stick with what's comfortable and that taking this class has (happily!) stretched my experiences with technology as well as my desire to use it much more regularly. I think the point, plain and simple, is that the time has come where no one, especially in the field of education, can avoid it any longer. In fact, I just came from a professional development session in my district where we were looking at the proposed plan for the new teacher evaluation system and there is a technology component. I think this is a good and necessary change and will "force" (for lack of better word) teachers to at least be learning and exploring new forms of technology to use in their classrooms. As teachers, we need differentiated PD so that people who are more comfortable with using tech tools can grow and expand their knowledge/experience and not waste time relearning things they already know how to use, and those with less experience learn the basics and are not intimidated by those who know and can do more. Personally, I sometimes think what intimidates teachers is the vast array of options out there, so if teachers were presented with a few good options for tech use rather than such a large quantity, I think they would be more likely to seek the opportunity to learn and practice with it.

Danielle N. said...

In my experience, I see both teachers and ed leaders who are embracing technology and who are excited to learn more about it and implement it in the classroom, as well as teachers who are afraid of it and shy away from it as much as possible until it becomes a requirement. I admit that I tend to stick with what's comfortable and that taking this class has (happily!) stretched my experiences with technology as well as my desire to use it much more regularly. I think the point, plain and simple, is that the time has come where no one, especially in the field of education, can avoid it any longer. In fact, I just came from a professional development session in my district where we were looking at the proposed plan for the new teacher evaluation system and there is a technology component. I think this is a good and necessary change and will "force" (for lack of better word) teachers to at least be learning and exploring new forms of technology to use in their classrooms. As teachers, we need differentiated PD so that people who are more comfortable with using tech tools can grow and expand their knowledge/experience and not waste time relearning things they already know how to use, and those with less experience learn the basics and are not intimidated by those who know and can do more. Personally, I sometimes think what intimidates teachers is the vast array of options out there, so if teachers were presented with a few good options for tech use rather than such a large quantity, I think they would be more likely to seek the opportunity to learn and practice with it.

Christina R. said...

This was an interesting blog post. I agree that there are many teachers that struggle with technology,whether it be sending an email, or using a web 2.0 tool. I agree that there are different types of teachers when it come to lack of tech fluency...those who can't and won't learn, those who can't and want to learn, but get easily frustrated and give up, and those who can't but try their best to learn some basics to a moderate amount. We can easily blame some of these teachers and say they can't learn like the saying goes, "Can't teach an old dog new tricks" However, in my experience, the teachers that I have come across who are lacking basic skills in technology, want to learn, but they don't know where to begin on their own. We have little to no PD's in our district about learning new technologies. I gave a couple last year and the teachers were so excited to learn new things, but we were only given an hour for each of these PD's. It isn't sufficient enough time to learn all that needs to be taught. We have countless Pd's on literacy, but with Common Core implementing a tech category in the curriculum, wouldn't it be wised to include more technology Pd's and that they be full day Pd's?
I think the other point is that many of us do not have the resources to implement these technologies in our classes. For instance, I have been asking for 7 years for a smartboard, but because I teach art, I am not a priority. Those who have a Smartboard, are frustrated because of the constant irregularities in writing on it, or reconfiguring it, or the internet goes down, etc. I have a large amount of teachers that are beyond mad that they can't even use their Smartboards because they have been waiting since last year for a new bulb.
There was mention that a teacher rolled in a tv to show a video in class...I agree that this is outdated, however, in many districts that may be all they have to show something. Two teachers in my wing use the rolling tv because their Smartboard has not been fixed since last year.
I also agree that teachers are probably afraid that it is an all technology or nothing type of world, but it isn't. We can't rely on technology for everything. If we did, we would have a world of people who won't be able to write or communicate face to face (and I don't mean skype) I mean real human to human communication. However, there are many ways of incorporating tech in some lessons where it would be beneficial. It shouldn't be viewed as an all or nothing approach and that is what might scare some teachers away from technology.

Mary Beth Cadieux said...

I agree with Christina that a plethora of inconsistencies, lack of funding and little to no training can negatively impact how successfully teachers acquire new technological skills. It is a shame that many PD days seem like that could be used more effectively. These problems are real and need to be addressed district wide. Sp then, there is the issue of how much personal responsibility the teacher must take for educating herself or himself. In my opinion, I think this need is great. Throughout my observations during my time at St. Joes, my student teaching and the very beginning of my career, I have found one consistency with all effective educators in the classroom. Good educators, across the board, stay relevant. In 2012 this includes having a working understanding of some technology. Teacher must constantly be learning and growing in order to make the biggest impact on their students.

When I was scrolling through the comments at the end of Scott McLeod’s brief blog post, there was one particular comment that rang true to me. There are the extremes of people who either shun or wholly embrace technology. And then there are the masses in the middle. These teacher know some information, but aren’t provided enough PD and don’t spend enough of their own time to master these tool as to feel comfortable incorporating them in the classroom. As school communities we must enourage growth in our educators and help them stay relevant.

Brianna said...

I agree with Danielle N, that teachers are intimidated by how much is out there. It can be overwhelming to find the technology you want to use, try different options and weigh the pros and cons of the options. Even the most tech savvy teachers can become overloaded and just walk away for awhile.

Christina N said...

What I have seen in my school district is not the fact that teachers are afraid, because I do see many veteran teachers who are open-minded to learning new technologies, however what gets in the way, is the limited or lack of professional development of the tech tools. Teachers do not have much time in the day and to learn the use of technology on your own could be overwhelming. Teachers need to have good and meaningful professional development within what they learn can be applied the next day. I think school districts need to look within their own districts where many teachers would be willing to show how to use certain technologies.

Felicia's Blog said...

From my experience I think there are different types of fear with embracing and integrating technology. I have seen teachers require students to do projects and include a technology tool, particularly PowerPoint. I have witnessed teachers use Smartboards with obvious aggravation when the pen doesn't work and others with ease. I notice many teachers enjoy and appreciate just the projector feature and use that to show different videos and graphic organizers. The fear I have observed is teachers who are afraid of losing control of students by either having to rely on them for tech support or take too much time out of instruction to figure things out. Also, I have seen teachers who don't integrate tools they have access to and are familiar with, like Twitter or SmartBoard, because it is the norm in the school to deviate away from technology unless you’re a tech teacher. I agree that there is a heavier weight placed on test prep in the class and thus, professional developments are being dedicated to strategies to get students prepared. I would have to also agree teachers need more practice using the tools they have available to help eliminate these fears.

Jskoo742 said...

As I complete the readings for this class, I am affirmed in my belief that it is vital teachers "jump on the tech train" and learn and implement as much technology as they can in their classrooms. The bottom line is, times have changed and to not invest in a basic technology education for themselves is similar to them refusing to drive cars but, rather opt for horseback. In a comment posted to Mr. McLeod's blog, a reader named Steve, shared that he found that a teacher's willingness to learn and apply different technologies in a classroom can be directly correlated to their view on the world of education and their personal pedagogy. I completely agree with this notion. It makes complete sense and is a theory that holds true in my own school community. Those teachers who are more rigid and set in their ways are teachers who have not fully evolved in their craft and it is interesting to note that they probably never will. I call these guys "stale teachers" not veterans. True "vets" evolve and change both personally and professionally throughout their entire career. They are life long learners versus complacent teachers that are doing a basic job they were hired to do. There are distinct differences between these two types (the vets vs. the stalemates) and those differences involve an unwillingness to try new things and a fear of change. I will admit that technology scares me a bit, but, that fear drives me to want to jump ahead of the learning curve and learn all that I can. That is why I am thankful for classes where I can expand my knowledge and resource base. I mean really, I'm blogging! The point is that teachers who oppose technology and learning how to implement it in their classrooms desperately need to open their minds and jump aboard before they are left in the dust.

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