Dave Warlick points to a study that shows that more teachers are starting to use technology in their teaching. Ironically, not once in the article are the words “learn” or “learning” mentioned in the context of teachers or students. Why?
What difference, really, does the infusion of technology into the classroom have if the teachers who use it don’t have a context for learning with it? My guess is that most of what’s happening in schools right now is what Alan November calls “automating,” taking the stuff we used to do on paper and digitizing it in some way without any real change in the pedagogy or in the understanding of what the learning potentials are. I mean, take PowerPoint as an example. If you use PowerPoint, technically you’re using technology. But most of the uses of PowerPoint that I’ve seen in schools have nothing to do with learning. Nothing. In fact I still have a hard time believing how much of what is presented at the technology conferences I go to has nothing to do with helping those in the room become more effective, lifelong learners. It’s all about doing.
At least three-fourths of teachers surveyed recognized the importance of computer technology in teacher-related functions such as attendance-taking and record-keeping (86 percent), communication (83 percent), research and planning (79 percent), and classroom instruction (77 percent).
That doesn’t really get to it, does it? We have to stop focusing on what teachers are doing with technology and start focusing on how they are learning with it.
technorati tags:teaching, learning, technology
David Warlick says
It seems that in so much of the staff development that happens, including my own, what we are teaching is how to operate the machine. I did a three-hour workshop at NCETC last week on wikis, and although most of the teachers seemed to start “getting it,” in terms of what they might do that’s new, in three hours I was only really able to help them to become comfortable with the machinery of wikis.
It’s the literacy that accompanies these new technologies that needs to be learned. In fact, if taught as learning literacies, then we may empower teachers to become more independent learners — and at the same time start them thinking more about integrating life-long learning techniques into their classrooms, instead of just integrating the machine into their teaching.
Dave LaMorte says
Is the lack of real tech integration into lessons a lack of imagination on the part of teachers or the failure on the part of the training?
Maria DeSimone says
I couldn’t agree more with the integration techniques mentioned here, but I don’t think it is lack of imagination or the failure of the training. I really think it is a TIME thing, and lack of it. Many of our teachers are so busy with reviews, tests, classroom management that they have no time, and when they do use technology they can get lost in all it has to offer. We need more time!
Pat Aroune says
I could not agree with you more. Using technology, in and of itself, does not adequately optimize the potential of these technologies as tools of instruction. I am personally discovering how Web 2.0 technologies are bringing to the forefront, a much bigger educational issue. Whether it is standardized tests, no child left behind, or political accountability in education, the manner in which I instruct has become the issue. Many of us are throwing caution to the wind, and rethinking our role in the classroom using these tools. As of late, my personal struggle as part of an initiative within the district I teach is how to help my colleagues understand that technology does not stand on its own. Using a blog as a means of filing an online essay, is no better than utilizing pen and paper. Without proper online social interaction, a wiki is not far from becoming the 1990’s version of power point. Pushing the social value of these tools will promote a truly collaborative community where intellectual exchanges will become the norm.
Tom Hemingway says
One reason teachers are getting more tech training these days is because school administrations are requiring it as part of their strategic goals, divorced from really assessing the training needs. So people take the training and knock out some powerpoint presentations in order to tick a box on their performance evaluation, and they’re done.
However, I was recently part of a team who had to work together on a project document; I set up a wiki and did side-by-side training with the other members. The collaborative writing tasks clearly helped the wiki make sense.
I so agree with Will that it’s all about doing. I mean, who would dream of taking a cooking class where all you do is learn the virtues of spoons?
Brian Mull says
Right on Tom.
Maybe the word training is inherently a bad choice. It sonds like this one shot deal. You go in, get “trained” on a skill, and move on. I just talked about this in a round about way on my last blog posting at http://nlcommunities.com/communities/brianmullnl/archive/2006/12/04/106213.aspx
I’m seeing too many teachers still getting trained on software applications. What I would like to see more of is long term mentorships that move teachers toward changing how they teach and not just changing the tool used to teach what they are teaching now. The problem though, is that most schools don’t yet have enough mentors who have an understanding of the tools available and how to use them to fully move toward 21st century teaching and learning.
Chris West says
I have to present to managers and then other department heads about our trial use of Elgg over the last few months. If I’m technical about it then I’ll lose them straight away. This post has made me realise that a report I wrote on it recently was very un-technical and focused on the learning that has gone on. This has been my intended approach from the beginning – learning first, technology second.
I agree with Brian that people are often trained in software rather than learning activities.
Clarence Fisher says
I have a poster that hangs in my classroom. It reads: “school is not about doing. It is about thinking and learning.”
RJ Stanagherlin says
David Warlick, Alan November, and Randy Ziegenfuss’s TFG Professional Development Session 1 links share a common thread: the need to contextualize technology integration in real-world open-ended problem solving. If one of our tasks is to evaluate educational technology, then we need to know what an effective integration design is. Let’s begin with what it isn’t. David Warlick questions the profusion of technology infusion without contextualization, what Alan November describes as automating. Either way, technolgy integration goes beyond digitizing information, beyond PowerPoint. So, what does intelligent design for technology integration look like?
Brian Mull says
Just saw your post and then went to go read my bloglines account. David Warlick posted an entry (http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/2006/12/05/another-pbl/)that has this paragraph in it. It’s not a detailed description about intelligent design, but these are the types of things I envision.
“When I was at the State Department of Public Instruction, we put together a program called VoteLine, where students, during an upcoming election, researched the presidential campaigns, identified issues that seemed to be important, weighted each issue, surveyed their neighborhoods and communities, and recorded everything in spreadsheets (Apple IIe and AppleWorks). They used algorithms in the spreadsheets to project election outcomes. I knew that the project was working when teachers said that students were learning state-identified social studies skills. I knew that it was a success, when teachers said that they had never watched their students walking out of class and standing at their lockers talking about what they had learned in social studies class. Passion-Based Learning”
Jasper Fox says
Will, I glad you have the guts to confront this issue as well as happy with how succinctly you spell it out. I must say , however, that I think the problem has less to do with learning to use technology, but rather with the basic idea of teachers relinquishing control (or a portion of) control in the classroom to their students. For example compare the student’s enduring understandings gained by digital storytelling versus taking notes via powerpoint.
Jennifer W says
I would agree with what you say in that using technology does not guarantee learning.
I could take a picture of my class with a digital camera and say that I was using technology or pop in a DVD and say the same as well.
My personal goal, with the projects I host, is to encourage the teachers to think about using technology in their classrooms in a way that everyone learns…..themselves as well. But I am all for baby steps with participants.
I am finding that the BIG users of technology are not attracting me as much as the simplistic users are lately. (grins, please don’t take that wrong.) I am just intrigued by the leaps of faith and pushing past fear that a lot of teachers are showing —
Please check out http://kinderteacher.podomatic.com/ — it is a kindergarten class podcast — and you can see the learning.
Thanks for your blog — I always learn a great deal.