Tonight I spent a little bit of time discussing how to get disinterested teachers engaged in the use of technology with the other folks on the weekly Twitter #edchat discussion. I must say, this is an issue I’m struggling with mightily lately. Last March, when I attended the NCMSA conference, my response was one of amazement at the limited number of individuals who were using technology AT the conference. I assumed things would be better at the NMSA conference in Indianapolis. While things were “better” and part of the limitation was a lack of free wifi throughout the conference site, there was still a smaller than expected number of teachers taking/posting their notes or thoughts on blogs or Twitter.
I attended several technology sessions while at NMSA09 as well. The overwhelming feeling I got during these sessions was that I was ahead of the curve when it came to using the tools within my classroom, but the vast majority of attendees were nowhere close. The awareness of tools that I think are the lynchpins of collaboration and creation in today’s classrooms just isn’t there with the large portion of teachers.
So on the one hand, we have a small, dedicated group of educators who gather each week on Twitter to discuss issues regarding technology in education, differentiation, and other pertinent topics. On the other hand, we have the uncountable masses of teachers who are unaware/unsure of their ability to use tech in their classrooms. How then do we drag the conversation from #edchat to those teachers who aren’t even in the conversation at this point? The pace of change of tools is enough to make my head spin, so our discussion can’t simply focus on tools. Yet at the same time, there HAS to be a basic understanding of the tools to get to what they can do in an educational setting. So while we’re moving on to newer, more collaborative tools like Google Wave, we have legions of teachers who think that Wiki stands for “What I Know Is” and still think that Wikipedia is a cesspool of misinformation.
I had an excellent conversation with a colleague of mine this afternoon (the only one who attended today’s Tech in 20 session). She is admittedly a less tech-savvy, or should I say “technorate,” teacher. She has worked hard to include the use of the Internet and her SMART Board in her classroom this year. She also moved her school website over to a blog (more for formatting, than for actual blogging purposes). Many of these moves have been a struggle for her, but she’s made the attempt. Our conversation drifted toward the “digital native/digital immigrant” false dichotomy and she expressed concern:
What if some of us (teachers) will just never get it? Like a deaf person who gets a cochlear implant late in life, and while able to hear, has lost the neural pathways that allow them to learn proper speech. What if our brains have missed out on the chance to learn a lot of this stuff?
That, to me, was of great concern. On one level, there’s concern if there is any truth to that idea. It would mean that the vast majority of teachers who did not grow up with technology will finish out their careers without fully understanding something that can have a great impact on their students. On another level, I’m concerned that an idea like that could be used as grounds for a teacher to bury his/her head in the sand and never reach out and attempt what my colleague has done this year.
As one of the first generation of teachers who would generally be considered to have “grown up digital” I have some great concerns for the direction of our profession. Many folks have been working diligently for years to try and promote tech integration. However the names of such folks like Will Richardson, Wes Fryer, and the numerous others are far less recognizable than they should be. In his TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson pointed out that the students entering Kindergarten the year he spoke (2006) would be retiring in 2065 and we have no clue about what skills/knowledge they will actually need. Isn’t this statement true of any generation however? Are we more keenly aware of the different landscape of the future due to the rapid pace of change in our lives? If we, as teachers, are more keenly aware than our counterparts 50+ years ago, why then is there still so little movement to incorporate the things we feel are necessary for success in the job/learning markets our students will be entering?
Filed under: Brave Teaching |