There have been a spate of posts of late that talk about the role of technology in general and Web 2.0 technologies specifically in the classroom and also about the larger question of the acceptance of technology in general as a teaching and learning tool. Not surprising, is it, that these threads would pop up as school begins, at least here in the Western World.
Jeff Utecht started by writing about “Transition Techies” and lamenting the fact that technology is still seen as an option to most educators, not a requirement.
For most schools technology integration is optional. So I am supporting an optional program. I know itâ€™s been said before but: As long as teachers have the option to integrate technology, some will opt not to. Since computers first started showing up in schools it was optional. Some teachers used the computer labs others didnâ€™t.
I find myself wondering if these are, indeed, transition technologies in the sense that at the end of the day, blogs and wikis and the like come closer to pen and paper technologies than most of what has come before and that because of that, they may finally be the tools that bring us to the point where we stop talking about technology and start talking about practice. Obviously, it will take ubiquitous access for that to truly occur. But in my own case, this is not something that I can separate from the way I live and work. And I think that’s what we have to see happening in schools. The list of reasons why it hasn’t already is long and well documented, and Jeff’s post offers much to think about.
Later, Miguel Ghulin takes it a step further by writing that technology in schools isn’t just optional, it’s irrelevant.
Optional technology use? We are supporting a dream, a vision that was popularized by vendors, pundits, and high priced keynote speakers. We’re still in search of the high tech, high touch. The reality? The reality is that schools don’t see technology as optional. Rather, it is irrelevant…whether the laminating machine works is a more relevant concern. Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but I see irrelevant as much worse than optional. Optional implies that technology might be used if the teacher chooses, that it has some worth. Irrelevant says that there is no worth, whether you choose to use it or not.
I agree that there is a de facto irrelevance (whether we say we see the need for technology or not) if the people in leadership positions aren’t walking the walk and using technology as a part of their practice. I think of Tim Lauer and Tim Tyson who lead by example, and how rare that is when it comes to technology in schools. But is that only going to be solved when new, younger, technology facile leaders emerge?
Finally, Chris Sessums weighs in with some thoughts on the state of Read/Write Web tools in our classrooms:
Integrating the Internet and social software into the classroom is a complex and multifaceted process. As we stand today, there is very little research regarding which technology is most appropriate and effective for particular tasks. In my mind, this is a good thing. This is where creativity steps in – and this is what education is all about (i.e., trying out ideas, experimenting with software, making mistakes, reinventing, etc.). More importantly, effective and appropriate use involves the competent and committed involvement of people. To this end, Internet search engines and social software such as weblogs, wikis, and social bookmarking sites provide a rich and resourceful environment for educators and learners of all ages.
If, of course, they are willing to take the time to make them their own.
technorati tags:teaching, education, technology, classroom
Do you get the NEA published magazine? I wanted to scream when I saw the opposing views section about integrating technology. They don’t get it, and until more teachers come on board we won’t see big changes.
Of course there is the testing excuse, NCLB doesn’t leave much time, and it is soaking up the tech money for testing equipment. Teachers need equipment, instruction and time to develope lessons. Until all 3 things happen, you won’t see changes in the classroom.
Intel Teach to the Future was a great program because it did all 3 but the local school districts couldn’t sustain it because of lack of funding. A few of my teachers doggedly continued to integrate technology but they were few and far between. We have started again with a little start up money and again I am hopeful…..
We have some technology, some teaching and some lesson plan development and I am crossing my fingers. We have administrative support but I would have liked to have seen them in the classes so they truly know.
Daniel Quigley says
I think there is another aspect of Miguel Ghulin’s “irrelevance” may stem from the speed at which these technologies develop and the feeling of helplessness that many faculty, particularly at this time of year as the pressures to prepare for another term mount, feel in the face of all this new technology. It would be helpful if we just take a look back at the last 24 years (’82 being the year most noted as the beginning of all this PC business. In that relatively short time span, just how many “newest and greatest” technology based teaching tools have flooded the market? And how much fac. dev. time and money has been spent trying to keep faculty up to snuff? While many reading your column (myself included) would see something truly different about the read/write web, why would the average teacher believe that wikis and blogs and RSS and…you get the point…would be any more trans formative than, say, the Mac’s “Hypercard” circ 90-92. Or perhaps they have already heard about the “transformative nature” and the incredible amount of information that can be gleaned through a “gopher” program. Each of these was to be transformative, and each is now collecting dust in computer museums. I once had a colleague who was thoroughly convinced that ALL college educators (particularly English professors as we were) would need to learn HTML within a year to stay relevant. Of course, what really happened is that some one invented a program to do it for you, and the hours I spent trying to learn HTML seem “irrelevant.”
Joe Poletti says
“Technology” is about tools and procedures. “Information” is about as global as it gets. Our relevance in schools and districts will be determined by our ability to de-emphasize those two isolated words and plant ourselves and our skillsets squarely in some curricular (and extra-curricular) contexts.
Instructional Technology Facilitators (as they are called here) and Media Coordinators will continue to evolve more as curriculum specialists whose greatest value is professional adult collaboration. These people are curriculum people first and foremost. The most successful collaborators among them will join forces with teachers in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of units of study.
As we know this is easier said than done and dependent upon scaffolding factors.
Brian Crosby says
New techers right out of college that I interview have practically zero tech experience – maybe that is not true elsewhere in the country, but where are the “new leaders” going to come from if so few have any experience. I am part of a program in my school district piloting Activboards and a few other pieces of interactive technology – because of the grant money being spent we had to have a consultant from the local university – the professor has almost no ed tech experience at all and close to no tech savvy whatsoever but thinks this will be “neat.” (This is the person that is supposed to consult us on effective technology integration)
I agree whole-heartedly with Miguel – tech is still seen as an irrelevent add-on that would be “cool” when we have the time after we get our math and reading scores up.
“You can’t show me much – if any real proof that any of this tech stuff does anything to raise test scores.” End of discussion.
Kimberly Moritz says
I understand that leadership is important for technology integration. I understand that I have to walk the walk and I’m trying lead by example. In the ten years that I taught, I tried new methods in my classroom and integrated those things that worked into my teaching. I constantly thought about what was necessary to engage my students and to make the content “stick” with them. Forget it, this is becoming a post. . . I’m moving over to a post on ghsprincipal.edublogs.org. Please stop by and think about the real responsibility of technology.
Joel Backon says
I like Quigley’s comment about the speed at which technology changes. When you stand on the side of the road, the cars appear to move very quickly. But when you are in one of those cars moving at about the same speed, the motion is almost not noticeable (Einstein’s theory of relativity?).
Optional, irrelevant, and other words are rationalizations just as the speed characterization is. This blog consistently points out that current technology is operating in a new paradigm; call it a flat world or whatever you like. Most educators are not operating in that paradigm. Until they do, technology will appear optional or irrelevant on a macro level (certainly some teachers and schools get it and are have incorporated technology into teaching and learning).
The Pew Internet and American Life Project’s research suggests that technology in the schools is somewhat irrelevant. Students, in general, assessed the attitudes, access, availability, and knowlede base of the “provider” and found it lacking severely on all counts. They stated clearly in the research that their technology use is not at school, but at home – where the service is better and the technology is not as antiquated or filtered. Students reported their “school use” of home technology approaching something like 85%. Obviously the results are different for households without, but if we want technology to be relevant to education…it has to be relevant to education’s customer.
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/158/press_coverageitem.asp (in case I didn’t do my html link right above…still don’t have that memorized with all the html editors…argh)