Thursday, March 1, 2012

Webtools 29/2/2012

Whenever discussing technology on twitter I find myself in two camps. The techie in me enjoys the discussion and likes finding out about the new ideas out there for teaching and learning. But the realist in me realises while technology is the present for a lot of twitter users, for a lot of the teachers I deal with everyday it is at best a futuristic dream and at worst a apocalyptic nightmare. Schools I visit just do not have the resources to fill their classrooms with technology. Some students have PCs and smart phones but the majority do not and teachers do not have the training or the time to help them embrace new technology with confidence.

What I found sad about the webchat last night was how technology is presented as a fait accompli. This was a question that was asked and answered with much enthusiasm:

How do we get non-tech savvy teachers excited about webtools?

My simple answer to this is that we don’t, let them discover and find out in their own time. It is not our job to influence our colleagues to change their tried and tested methods to adopt new and as yet unproven approaches. It was argued that as a teacher trainer I have a responsibility to help teachers to embrace new technology. I agree with that but my aim is to show how it works and let teachers make their minds up. An evangelistic approach will not convince teachers.

Some people were throwing out so many webtools that it begs the question, when do they actually have time to use all of these tools in the classroom? Or more pertinently are they filling their classes with gimmicks and not with teaching and learning.

If our aim as highlighted above is to encourage non-techies to embrace technology then we need to be considered in what we talk about. Quality not quantity, showing real classroom activities with real pedagogical value, that is better than the current approach. Flooding them with vague suggestions of the next big thing will change their approaches.

I think teaching approaches are like religions in many respects. We all have our beliefs but the trick is to respect other people’s and not try to force our own onto them. If our belief is good enough then others will come to it naturally.

Just as a footnote I truly believe that if we are going to embrace digital we need a all for one and one for all approach. It is all very well talking about bring your own devices or the students can do it at home. But if only some of the students have access to technology and some don’t it just widens the gap between the haves and the have nots.