I love it when Hiba says a few quick things!
I encourage you to read Hiba’s comment, and Troy and Melissa’s, in response to my last post. It is so important IMHO for us to be talking frankly, reflectively and supportively about the difficulties and fears that we/others have in regards to using technology in our teaching. Ignoring the problems will not make them go away!
I totally agree Hiba – using technology for the sake of it does not lead to effective teaching. And I think you’re right – this is bound to be the thing that Shaun has experienced. And yes, ‘too much of anything IS too much’. But…who decides what is too much?
“Just a few quick things” from me
The end of your comment Hiba is very telling – you love and can see a clear use for OHPs, digital stories, twitter and youtube. Ok, but what about other teachers who don’t like these things? When they are told they ‘have to’ use them, won’t they have the same feelings as you expressed about other technology?
So: (1) teachers will best use what they know about and can see a use for, and (like all other pedagogical tools) each teacher will have their own style and ‘favourites’. I think this is OK, and a natural product of how we work.
What do you do with teachers who are refusing/reluctant to learn new things? New tools? New ways of doing things? Is it good enough to just say ‘blogging is not a preferred teaching tool of mine’? Well, perhaps…but is it good enough to go wider than this and say ‘online learning is not a preferred teaching tool of mine.’? Er, NO. IMO this is tantamount to saying ‘I just don’t like doing group work’. Unlucky mate. Because:
(2) there are things that we know, for sure, things that are like fully researched and proven and everything about how collaborative learning enhances the learning experience, and about how online tools can facilitate this better than pen and paper work. This is not a matter of opinion, or personal style (though whether you use a wiki or a blog or a Ning or Moodle etc. certainly is).
I hear you about being too immersed in technology. I am a screen junkie, and have to constantly remind myself that not everyone is. I DO prefer to mark essays using track changes and comments in Word (it takes more time for me to negotiate the margins of someone’s handwritten essay than it does for me to just TYPE), but that’s just me. I don’t think that everyone needs to work this way. But I do think, at some point, you have a (dare I say) duty to expose students to this method of editing. This is especially important because:
(3) the distinction between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ has been helpful, but is is not that black and white. Fact: not all kids have the kind of access to technology that you describe yourself as having – this is a class/SES/cultural issues that we MUST remain aware of. Another Fact: just because you use a lot of technology doesn’t mean that you can think critically about it, or apply it to new knowledge. Case in point – students’ PowerPoint presentations are generally REALLY AWFUL until they are taught how to apply skills of good public speaking, visual presentation, summarising, metalanguage/metathinking etc. How do you explain this phenomenon if it is true that ‘all young people already know about technology’? There’s a reason why English teachers teach novels, and don’t just say ‘go read it at home kids’.
Back to the concept of ‘too much’. You know what else I think we use too much of? Workbooks. And writing notes off the board. And teacher talk. And homework (when it is not project and passion based, which I do like). But these practices are never questioned, never challenged, never stopped because people find them comfortable and familiar. And no-one notices when they are overdone because they are part of the traditional landscape of schooling, and because (most importantly I think) because this is how parents, and politicians, were taught and what they expect to see from kids’ classrooms.
My Head Teacher will get me in trouble if my kids don’t have a workbook, but no-one else gets in trouble for not having a blog!
So: (4) Let’s make sure we’re applying the ‘too much is too much’ rule across the board, and not just as an excuse/a reason for neglecting the new. If what we mean is ‘we haven’t had enough PD to use this right’ then by all means say that. But there are some things that would be good to drop out of our current practice to make room for the new.
One thing that we know about teaching is that no matter what you are taught to do, as a teacher you will instinctively model your practice on the teaching you received at school. Fighting against this instinct takes concentration, and learning about new practices and tools takes a lot of work. Because of this, teachers who are embracing technology are feeling increasingly overloaded and burnt out - this is the real problem that needs managing. In Hiba’s post I felt a real sense of fatigue, and I know how she feels because I have felt that way too. We teachers have to look after ourselves personally and adjust our level of change commitment as our energy ebbs and flows. People who yell and scream and try and force everyone to use technology all lesson, every lesson need to be more sensitive to change fatigue…but in return, teachers need to ‘man up’ when the energy does flow, and explore these new tools for refining their craft.
Without understanding and effort on both sides, the student will be the one who misses out.