Embrace the luddites
I sat in a post-grad course yesterday full of other teachers from kindergarten to senior school, talking and listening to their ideas and issues in the context of our topic. And I was totally floored by one teacher in particular. I am rarely speechless and I like to think I'm a fairly calm and tolerant type of person (I can hear my husband sniggering somewhere) but this teacher had me completely shocked and for a moment I couldn't speak.
It went something like this;
"I hate iPads. My son has one for school and last week he came home with it completely drained of battery which means he's been using it all day. His teacher must be so lazy so I said that next week he can't take it and has to do his work with a pen and paper. She'll have to do some work then!"
Cue my stunned silence.
I looked around and a few others were nodding sympathetically or engrossed in something on their own devices. Eventually I was able to form words and comment that I'd never heard someone have such a strong anti-iPad stance, especially in education and I said I'd love for her to come into my classroom and see how I use them just to have a crack at showing her what it can be like. Educationally active kids working hard and loving it.
I'm still slightly affronted when I think about it now, but it opened my eyes to the distrust and vitriol that exists among some teachers, and as I am someone who chooses to be immersed in technology, studies edtech and frequently converses with like-minded educators; it was a enormous awakening for me. Creating learning opportunities using 1:1 iPads is certainly NOT for the lazy! That's like saying using a dictionary to locate definitions or writing a report or directing a movie is laziness. Just because the students do those things on iPads does not make either the teacher or the student's work less valid. My students certainly know what a pencil is and they integrate digital devices into their learning.
It reminded me of a few weeks ago when a colleague introduced me to an app they liked which I was excited to explore. As it was a social app I immediately sent a download link to my husband thinking, great - let's see what this can do. He's FIFO so our communication is often via technology. However, upon speaking to him later that day I learned that he was annoyed by the link and didn't want to learn another app. I repeat, he didn't want to learn another app. Again I was stunned. What?! Who doesn't want to learn about something new they can do with their phone, ipad, computer? Apparently I have been taking it for granted that everyone loved doing this but it seems to be much less prevalent that I'd assumed. Far less so in fact.
I thought about this too and it may be that what is fun and engaging for me, is just more work for him or the teacher I met yesterday. Our hobbies and interests are as individual as we are, it's just that the technology in education has well and truly gone mainstream; whether you like it or not. The level of distrust and the angst that technology has the potential to create, especially in parents/reluctant educators minds is quite real and it has to be addressed. I see this as an opportunity! Done right, captured effectively, pedagogically sound teaching that has be
en achieved with the aid of digital learning needs to be presented to teachers more and more. Show and Tell, blogging, Q&A, on-going consulting and the like are tools that must be employed to embrace the reluctant educators. Determined luddites in education worry me; I am concerned that efforts to share and invite them in, might not be met half-way. We must prove why it's genuinely worthwhile. Their valuable experience must not give way to deliberate ignorance; we all lose in that situation, particularly the students.
It's made me so grateful for my personal passion for EdTech, but then again, it could be that I'm just very, very odd.