I was thinking this week, about all these twitter feeds I am following and I could not get over just how…. Over the top, pro technology in the classroom they are. Twitter this, blog that. Gotta connect with kids on their turf, gotta be in touch with the pulse of web but there never seems to be any thought put to the other side of the equation. Perhaps if I followed #downwithtech or #twitteristhedevilswork I might get another viewpoint but I can’t help but wonder how my collegues who are less “wired” feel about this push to make their classrooms part of the digital landscape.
I know for a fact that there are a number of teachers who are not ready and perhaps will never be ready to drink the digital koolaid. They are great teachers, doing a great job in a classroom, just teaching it old school. They don’t need twitter, blogs, wikis and all the other digital tools at their disposal to get kids to learn. They are master teachers without the digital paraphernalia but they feel that the likes of me, are trying to dismantle and devalue that which they have spent an entire career creating and perfecting.
There are a number of other issues that lurk in the minds of the unconverted which we should be sensitive to well beyond the general notion that we Tech Geeks are out to get them and they are concerns that need to be heeded.
- Availability of the Technology. This is a shortcoming for most schools. There simply isn’t enough technology to go around, for the kids or the teachers. We just haven’t hit a point of saturation yet where these digital tools are as ubiquitous as pencil and paper. Make it accessible without costing teachers anything and perhaps they will use it.
- Some People Don’t Want To Use It! Plain and simple, some teachers see no need, nor do they want to use technology to teach. Does this make them bad teachers? NO! We the tech geeks need to respect that.
- Management Issues. Even I, as someone who uses technology EVERY class, has issues around the appropriate use of the technology in the classroom. Some I ignore, some I stomp on but it is an additional piece of management which some people do not wish to have to deal with. Teachers have a dozen things going on at any given time in a classroom, why add more to their plate?
- Foundational Skills. In the digital world it is EXTREMELY difficult to determine how much of a students work is cut and paste or simply written by someone else. Much of kids work is a conglomeration of different information sources and nary a word of their own. What’s more, in the digital world, most information is written in point form, written sound bytes. Twitter is an excellent example of how thoughts have been reduced to 140 characters of information, hardly what you would call a body of text which needs to be read and then dissected for meaning. I am in complete agreement with my luddite colleagues who firmly believe that, foundational skills are best taught and solidified through good old fashioned book lernin.
- Just Don’t Got The Time or The Desire. Most teachers have lives outside of school and the 200+ kids they are responsible for in school. They are not all digital dependent like me, who spends more time with my laptop than I do with my family. We tech geeks love this stuff! We live it, we breath it and we have integrated it into our lives so that it is part of us. This is why using digital technology in the classroom is easy for us but some people DON’T want to make it part of their lives at home or at work.
- Top Down Push. In my 15 years of teaching, I have learned more from other teachers than I have ever learned from an administrator but this is where the push to use technology in the classroom, seems to be coming from. All of us tech geeks have been playing with digital teaching tools for years but now that admin have caught onto the possibilities of digital learning tools, they seem to want all teachers to using them BUT if we are to expect other teachers to buy into the use of technology, it has to be a grassroots growth rather than by administrative decree.
- The Digital Backlash This one is relatively new and has nothing to do with teachers. It is the digital backlash and the occurrence of parents who are not allowing their kids to have access to digital media. For me, this started last year with one kid and this year I have 6 kids of 160, who’s parents WILL NOT allow their children to have access to any type of social media. To tell you the truth, I am doing the same with my own kids. They will not have ANY social media account before their 16th birthday. I believe this is a growing movement and something that we as educators who LOVE this sort of thing will be faced with more, in the coming years.
Whether we like it or not, the digital revolution might just have to be a digital evolution when it comes to teaching. The reality is that there are good teachers doing GREAT things with kids without using the latest and greatest web tools. We the “tech geeks”, have no business going about, trying to (Star Trek Reference Warning) assimilate all teaching lifeforms into a digital collective. Yes there are some great things you can do, yes you can engage learners with digital resources, yes we have been sold BUT technology is not the end all and be all of learning. An excellent learning environment is about a teacher and the connection they have with the students and it. does not have to be a digital connection.