Having just finished my Grad Cert in ICT in Education I do feel pretty good about the ways in which I have, and also how I intend to extend the technology used with the students I teach in future. And it's not just me either; many teachers whom I've met either through my studies, through networking in WA or at my own beautiful school are busily developing their tech skills and bringing amazing ideas that channel and extend the skills and knowledge of the kids we educate.
But not all educators fall into this category. It seems too that it is no longer the teacher geeks [like me] that are electing to use tech, now we are all expected to. I've heard some resist, ignore, delay, protest ignorance and some sadly just can't be bothered investing their time. The 'technology gap' is no longer blurred. It is obvious and gaping - and you can't hide for much longer.
Pretty serious observation I know. But I am not going to shy away from calling it as it is. I am fiercely loyal to the educational journeys, learning and well-being of my fellow teachers but we must be accountable, proud and be actively measuring our own professional achievement at all times. How can you invest so much of yourself into a profession and not dedicate yourself to your own education? A glaring irony if I ever recognised one.
Perhaps it's the fear that technology will go wrong, or that it's going to be a waste of time, or that [horror of horrors] the teacher may not know the answer. All these things have happened to me at some point - none brought upon the apocalypse either. Technology fails occur no matter what operating system, website, media etc you're using and you just have to try again, ask for help and move on. It's never a waste of time, even if you invested a lot of time and energy into a project - learning is the journey, not the result (despite what standardised testing claims). And as for the teacher not knowing the answer? Simple: get over it. That's not our function and it hasn't been for a long time. Of course most of the time we can help students get the information they need and answer their questions. But we should all be aware that helping students discover answers on their own (targeted prompting and intelligent questioning included) enables much more meaningful and memorable learning moments.
"Mrs Saunders, where does plasma from the sun come from?"
"What an awesome project question. Where should we start? Let's get a brainstorm happening first and a list of places we could go to get some suggestions".
"Can I do my brainstorm on Popplet?"
"Great idea - I want to see what you come up with in 15 mintues ok?"
"Mrs Saunders, how do you spell 'definitely'?"
"Wouldn't it be cool if there was a magic book that helped you spell words and told us what they mean?"
"You got it buddy. Go grab it, find the closest page to what you think the word will be on and pop your hand up if you get stuck".
Technology isn't perfect because humans aren't perfect. Being a user of technology in the classroom enhances the opportunities for discovery based learning. I use wikis, online conferences, blogs and social networking sites to develop my own ease of use, enjoyment and professional learning. That's what makes me a fluent technology integrator.
That, and confidence. So, if you are feeling intimidated or unsure of how to engage or stimulate your classroom think of it like your students would think of public speaking. Faking confidence until you feel confident can be a strategy that works, or you can choose one small way to incorporate technology into your classroom. Starting small can build confidence along the way. Perhaps a unit on photo editing or basic emailing etiquette. It will depend on the specific needs of your class and curriculum demands.
Be brave, ask for help, invest your time and share your experiences.