Sunday, May 23, 2010

But, I Don't Wanna Fish!

This past week, two things happened to me that highlight one of the principle issues with getting teachers to use more technology in their classrooms.

In the first incident, I learned that the woman who teaches media literacy (a class which, as it turns out, is not at all what I thought it was or should be) in our school is having her kids create a newspaper without any digital component. This teacher isn't that old, but in her experience newspaper means an ink-on-paper document. Even though most of today's newspapers have some sort of online product, it simply didn't occur to her to complement the students hard copy product with a digital element.

Because my mind is attuned to looking for every chance to integrate technology, I saw this as an integration opportunity that was jumping up and down, waving a flag, and screaming, "Here I am! Look at me!" That's because I live in a technology-rich world. It is infused into nearly everything I do. That teacher doesn't live in such a place. She's on the fringe of that world.

In the other case, a teacher told me I could collect her laptop as she was done using it this year. I asked her if she didn't want to take it home over the summer. "Why would I want to do that? We have a computer at home," she answered. I pointed out that with her laptop at home, she wouldn't be in conflict with others in the house to use the computer. Also, I suggested that with the laptop, she could go out on their deck or by the pool and use it. In her world, the computer is in a fixed location and it's only function is for working. You go to where the computer is with specific tasks to accomplish, you don't bring the computer to where you are and use it for connecting, learning, entertainment, etc. She wouldn't want to take a computer with her, that would represent taking work with her out into the fresh air and sunshine.

I don't fish, but I have many friends who do. So, at one point, I thought maybe I should take a crack at it. My friends helped me get outfitted, took me along, and introduced me to fishing. But, I just didn't get it. I couldn't see why this was something I wanted to do.

That's where these teachers are right now. We've outfitted them with laptops, interactive whiteboards, projectors, document cameras, and more. They've been introduced to the mechanics and theory of technology integration. But, because their own lives are not entwined with tech, they have a hard time seeing how this stuff is something to which they should want to give their time and attention.

We need to help our colleagues discover how technology can enhance their own lives on a personal level, because right now they just don't get it. It's not part of their mindset. Integrating technology is not inherent  in  the  essential  character  of  their thoughts and actions. The opportunities to use technology don't appear naturally to them, they struggle to find them. And sometimes the struggle overwhelms them.

2 comments:

Tech 221 said...

Wow. You have articulated the issue very well. At my school we are all rich with tech toys and tools. However, most of my colleagues are not embracing the possibilities. Not that I do not find the value of the traditional learning tools I just want to have alternatives. Plus, my students as well as myself like the fun that some of these tools bring to a project. The collaboration possibilities with individuals outside of our personal sphere are very exciting. It does take time and effort to try something new but this is true of anything that we incorporate into the classroom from new textbooks to an different classroom management system. The students are going to force the issue and the holdout teachers are going to be left behind. I say learn something new each day, week, or month and let some of it be technology. Take pictures of your students work and post it on line, take pics of students working and make a story to share with parents, principals, and other educators. Read a blog on line and respond, talking with people you do not personally know can be liberating and fun. It scares me that we have educators that cannot change with the times, if you are overwhelmed easily, what are you doing in the classroom?

Mrs. Tenkely said...

This is exactly the problem, it is hard for us who are so tech infused to relate to someone who only uses technology for work. It is a foreign idea to us. I can't imagine how they can do without online bill pay, Pandora, Hulu, Google Reader, and Google Maps just to name a few. The time I spend on my computer is enjoying and relaxing. Many haven't found that special technology enhanced activity that has them yearning for a computer that isn't stationary.
I recently showed one of my colleagues how to create a photo slideshow and book of her grandkids using iPhoto, she went crazy for it! Now she is venturing into other tools that help her stay connected like Skype.
Another teacher loves to knit, so I showed her a few knitting blogs and websites and now she is hooked. We have to get to know the teachers we work with so that we can develop them in a way that will feel natural to them.

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