Last night I got the chance to spend a couple of hours with about 20 graduate students in education at a pretty large school here in New Jersey during a class they are taking in educational technologies. We ended up talking about a lot of the shifts that are occurring right now, the tools, and the challenges that face them as they enter the profession. Now, I was really impressed with the level of the conversation and the sincere questions that they shared. But I was also struck by how much of a reality check it was for me, at least.
The general sense from the group was “yeah, but” once again. Yeah, but we have these kids who are going to abuse these technologies if we open them up. Yeah, but we’re going to be out there on our own if we decide to use these technologies. Yeah, but I don’t have enough time to make this a part of my own practice. Yeah, but, etc. (And please, if any of those in attendance are reading this, feel free to chime in.) At one point I said something along the lines of “you know, there’s a lot of pressure on you in my circles because many people think nothing is going to change until the old guard retires out and you guys take over.” Well, that didn’t float very well. I got the sense that most didn’t want to accept that challenge or felt it was just too daunting. And at another point, after going through a list of reasons why using these ideas were going to be difficult, I said “yes, but you know there is nothing stopping you from changing the way you learn.” Not sure how well that went over, either
I don’t mean to come across as disparaging to any of these students. You could tell they were by and large smart and sincerely interested in the discussion. But I guess I was hoping for more, though I’m also not entirely surprised I didn’t get it.
One other thing. A couple of them noted that this one class (which was an elective, by the way) was the only (stress…ONLY) time in their grad program that they had talked about technology in a pedgogical sense.
As much as I want it to be otherwise, the reality here is that we’re just not getting it done on so many levels.
John Martin says
It’s an interesting predicament to be sure. I will be teaching a grad course this summer on teaching and learning in the 21st century classroom. I am wondering what demographic composition my class will hold and what sort of impact it will have. This class is an elective in our Computer Technology Educator track so I have a feeling that there will be an inherent pro-bias but we’ll see.
I guess the question for me is “How do we get it done?” Will it be enough to hope and pray for the so-called old guard to retire or have the up and comers been so indoctrinated into our dominant industrial age learning paradigm that we are simply creating more of the same problem?
In the meantime I will continue chipping away and eroding the walls as I work with the faculty I encounter on my path.
BTW, where does the GLEF offer stand?
Tom Hoffman says
I think it is quite clear that the “wait ’til the next generation of teachers comes in” strategy is not going to work. Mike Huffman is very convincing on this point. His experience with their big rollout of Linux desktops to English classes is that re-energizing experienced teachers is way more common than getting big uptake by new teachers, because new teachers are so swamped by the other demands of teaching.
As a case in point, I offer Will Richardson as an example.
On the other hand, young people who are interested in technology have very little incentive to go into teaching and stay there. I offer Tom Hoffman as an example.
Dean Shareski says
At least “yeah but” is better than “no and..” We now at least have some of our population understanding more about shifts, they just haven’t been able to get their heads around the how part.
Sounds like someone needs to start a blog called
J.D. Williams says
There will always be the people that abuse technology. It is pretty much the only time you hear about a lot of these technologies in the news.
Police Officer fired for using MySpace on the job:
I’m thinking about getting my masters in educational technology. After reading blogs like yours for awhile, I’ve thought “When will a job like that get rid of itself? When will the technology be so transparent that you won’t need someone to help implement it?” Then I remembered that we still have reading coaches. The shift you want to happen will happen; it’s just going to take awhile.
The change will not come with the next generation of teachers or even the generation after that unless we transform the structure of this thing that we call school. Until that changes, no real change will happen.
Jethro Jones says
When I brought up the idea of technology in my graduate course in Educational Administration, my professor exclaimed that he was a techno-phobe, and therefore, my idea about using technology in the classroom is worth nothing. Other students in my class with me complained that relationships are lessened if we communicate via the internet. If we subscribe to Will’s point that we need to wait until “the old guard retires and [we] take over” we also need to wait until the old guard that teaches teachers retires. They teach us how to teach. They teach us to be techno-phobes. My professor knows that technology is important and useful, but the only technology he uses in our classes is the VCR (and on occasion, he will use the DVD player). He is an excellent teacher, but does not use technology, nor is he on the technology bandwagon.
Dean Shareski says
“technology bandwagon?” to quote Will, “Oy”. If we still regard this as a bandwagon…forget it. My belief is that the barrier lies mostly with a lack of conviction. It’s not simply that some aren’t comfortable with it or don’t understand it but it’s a deep seeded belief around a change in pedagogy. Until teachers are convinced that the changing world that exists all around them has implications for education, technology will be a bandwagon. But as been said so many times, it’s about a New Face of Learning and the Changing Nature of information that’s key. Technology obviously fits in but you don’t have to start by thinking how will I use technology in my classroom.
Kevin Prentiss says
While understandable, I think your frustration is misplaced. Early adopters are always a small percentage. Most people don’t ever “get” contextual shifts in a society, they just start using new tools /ways when everyone else does.
How many iPod users read, understand, or care about the “Long Tail” – but many of them buy the heck out of obscure songs they found on myspace without giving it a moment’s thought.
My father, very clearly “old guard” who has never understood my internet-ish job, uses Netflix because it gives him good movies without effort. That’s all he knows. He doesn’t think about what recommendation engines do for a profit margin.
Web 2.0 is still rugged and intimidating to the uninitiated. It’s “too much time/work” for too little perceived value. We are saying “shift your thinking to learn the value” then you’ll realize the work is worth it, but it only works that way for the adopter personality – the life long learners – those that value the process as much as the outcome. Most people just don’t think that way.
Someone will do the work of making a web 2.0 education “product” or “app” that is completely obvious. They will produce a pen, or an iPod, and schools and teachers will use it because it will be obvious (not because it is deep). They won’t care about or understand the philosophy, shift, or pedagogical underpinnings of the thing. The thing will shift their perspective and behavior and they won’t even notice.
In the meantime, the work of early adopters continues: test and learn, test and learn. We’ll grind off the rough edges with our own hands so that others can have it “easy”.
I hope this comes off as optimistic. While still hard, I think it’s easier to build an iPod than change 10 million minds.
Joe Mills says
I’ve always felt that technology is seen as “just another thing” to most educators. Like the previous poster mentioned, instead of being a part of their pedagogy, it is just another means to an end instead of THE mean to an end. I just took over the technology duties at my school, and I love it, but it is very hard to get teachers to really buy in to making technology an intensive part of their curriculum.
I generally agree with you, Will, but there are a couple of realities that prevent critical mass:
–It won’t be about the old guard but rather how educational has evolved in all times in the past: with the new guard evolved the lessons from the old guard that will make change.
–A lot of teacher educational programs have painfully outdated educational technology components: those that teach html or Java or worse, Logo; those that spend more time talking about the dangers of the internet rather than the means of teaching kids through danger; those that don’t use the Internet at all, but rather teach Office basics, etc.
Long time reader, first time poster. I have been teaching for nine years – I took one elective during my undergrad course work on teaching and technology – the course was a joke. A few years ago I received my masters in Educational technology – I was severely disappointed in the technology level in the courses – many moved little beyond using power point or basic web pages as a technology tool in the classroom. As someone responsible in my school for training the new teachers I am continually amazed at the lack of tech skills these new teachers exhibit. As other comments have said – it is in college, these teachers of teachers that we need to reach, give a shake or two and say WAKE UP!
I suppose it’s also worth pointing out that, as grad students in particular, these are people who have excelled in the system as it is…
Perhaps not the disgruntled reformers change and growth will require.
The pressure, and the change, for the most part, will have to come from without.
Will Richardson says
Tom: Thanks…I think. ;0)
Dean: I think you’re right in that the pedagogical shift is critical. I find myself saying that more and more, and it’s why I keep coming back to personal practice before professional/classroom practice in terms of effective changes. You and Clarence and others are applying a different set of pedagogies that allow these tools to be effective primarily, I think, because you use them and understand them to the extent that you (we) can. That’s why I tried to impress upon them the idea that they can change their own practice regardless of why they feel they can’t change their classroom practice. Not an easy thing either, however.
Kevin: I agree to some extent. Maybe I’m feeling that the standard should be higher for educators, that it’s not good enough to use the iPod without understanding the context that goes with it. Dunno. But thanks for the push. And btw, at least it’s getting easier to get to those 10 million minds. How many people have seen Karl Fisch’s video on YouTube now???
Should this blogging community look to promote a radical restructuring of education like Glenn would have, or should we be looking for a model that re-engineers the manner in which new technologies and instructional strategies are adopted and implemented in a district? Maybe a new teacher would understand and adopt these technologies more easily if there existed a mechanism, or community within a district that leveraged the individual expertise of the staff. I would like to ask those individuals how their district utilizes staff development and in-service? I would like to ask them whether or not there exists a community of practice that develops a collaborative platform which invites individuals to share best practices? I would like to ask them how staff presented educational change within their district, is it a mandate in the abstract form from administration, or does the mechanism of change develop from the district’s greatest resource, its teachers? As you well know, many of the day-to-day duties of a new teacher are completely overwhelming. How can we expect our young colleagues to learn not only new technologies, but learn pedagogical application at the same time. I am sure that I am missing the point somewhere, but I feel that all of our energies are being focused in the wrong direction. We have yet begun to recognize the need for a strategy of institutional change. Being a grateful student of your’s (Ellicotville 2006), I do not think many educators will deny the educational and intellectual value of these technologies. Why not begin to address the mechanism of change that will promote the growth of the 21st century learner, by creating the most conducive environment for our teaching professionals.
Cheri Toledo says
I’m one of a small number of professors in my college who require the use and infusion of technology by both my undergrads and my graduate students. It’s lonely sometimes … especially when I get the rolling eyes in response to “another technology” they have to learn. Believe it or not, that’s mostly the undergrads.
Contrary to your experience with the graduate students, mine are gung ho for the web 2.0 tools, determining pedagogical applications, and becoming part of the ed tech network. In fact, my doctoral class will be appearing with me on Women of Web 2.0 on April 17th. Several of them will be sharing what they’ve learned, how they are applying it to their teaching, and how their students are responding.
So, that’s my encouragement to both of us. The future isn’t dependent on age or gender – it’s all about personality. If some folks aren’t interested in learning about new technologies and applying them to their teaching, I will bet you that they aren’t interested in much at all that veers from their way of doing things. They are more bonded to their way of doing things and to their precious assignments that in changing – changing pedagogies … changing perspectives … changing places with their students.
Will Richardson says
Pat: I think the reengineering idea is spot on. That’s why I love Karl Fisch’s model for staff development. A teacher leader with cohorts of new teachers that form community both f2f and in using these social tools to share experiences, think aloud, etc. But I wonder how many schools would be willing to make that commitment.
Cheri: Thanks for chiming in…I know there are probably many new teachers out there who are chomping at the bit to start changing things. But again, they have someone in their midst who models that potential for them. And again, you understand the pedagogies for yourself and can thus communicate them to your students in ways that make sense from an education stance. Not too many teachers in training are getting that, I don’t think.
Kevin Prentiss says
Okay. It’s a mountain of change. You continue to labor in the “high country of the mind” keeping up the expectations. (Because you’re right, there should be a higher standard.)
Pat and Karl Fisch can work on smoothing out the paths and processes up the mountain, with better group support and clearer lines.
And I’ll work to make mountain climbing easy. Jet boots or some such thing. (You’ll be, correctly, annoyed with the “tourists” who don’t get it jetting about, mucking with things.)
Eventually, we’ll all meet at the change we wanted, high-five, and I’ll buy beers. (Newbie’s always buy.)
My main point, still, in response to your original post, is that your position is lonely-ish and frustrating by its nature.
But that is the cool thing with this – like Youtube to 10 million (good point)- you can at least blog and comment with the other high climbers.
Brian O'Connell says
The reality at so many levels is not where it should be. I am the principal at a large secondary school in New Zealand. It is a new school being built at present and the struggle to get modern technologies and ideas incorporated into the school is demanding. Not just at staffing as you state but at buildings, community and bureaucratic level. I have recently started a blog of this journey. http://whangabrian.blogspot.com/
The challenges are huge and the demands of being at the front are ‘daunting’.
Kimberly Moritz says
I’m completely exasperated by the collective resistance to change in every arena. Why is it so incredibly hard? Why are so many people completely comfortable residing in the status quo? I agree with Dan, the current teacher candidates probably became teachers because they’re comfortable in the system as it is. I should start trying to hire teachers who weren’t successful in school. I’ll add interview questions that ask, “what did you hate when you were in school and why?” “What do you want to do differently?” “What do you think and what are you curious about?”
I know our teacher candidates aren’t any farther ahead than we are–it takes curiosity, guts, and determination–and that’s available at any age.
I think another issue about the “old guard/new guard” is that the new guard doesn’t always know or understand how to TEACH digital literacy skills. They know how to teach their content area, but most never had any instruction on how to infuse (please, let’s not use “integrate”) the skills needed for digital communication, for example, into their current curriculum. Most teachers teach as they were taught. Even some of our younger teachers see their digital skills as something they do OUTSIDE of school.
Yes, a radical shift is needed… and it has to start with teacher education. In trying to obtain a decent Master’s program that involves technology at all, I find that the majority of offerings are useless to me in my current stage of the game. Very disappointing.
Will Richardson says
Kim: I love this idea…”I should start trying to hire teachers who werenâ€™t successful in school.” I think we have a tendency to look for a competence and “intelligence” and non-rock-the-boatness. It would be interesting to go more after those that show flashes of brilliance and creativity, those who have travelled, taken risks, followed their passions in tangible ways and then, most importantly, support that thinking in the classroom.
Michelle: That’s a pretty powerful observation: “Even some of our younger teachers see their digital skills as something they do OUTSIDE of school.” I’ll go back to what Cisco CEO John Chambers said in USA Today a couple of days ago…”But the great leaders of the future will absolutely know technology.” What are we missing here? Thanks for the comment.
Kyle Brumbaugh says
Well… I guess I am not alone in the amount of emotion this post created in me. I am in the mind set of pushing the conversation forward and doing so by ‘any means necessary.’ I’m one of those guys that doesn’t take ‘NO’ for the answer very often and when people try to put barriers infront of me, I find ways to kick them aside or just roll over them. Every teacher I have gotten to start using more Web 2.0 tools has had a positive experience with it. I have a half dozen teacher writing blogs, a dozen teachers using wiki’s to create large scale class projects and developed courses to specifically teach these skills to students.
I see the disconnect of the ‘New Generation’ of teachers. While many of them are very comfortable using e-mail, creating a ‘MySpace’ or ‘Facebook’ page, they have no idea on how to use technologies to enhance the educational process. I met with one of the people at Google, who works on the Docs and Spreadsheets and GooglePages projects, the other day and her experience with her friends outside of the high tech field is the same. (This is a woman that is in her mid 20’s and has been working for Google for 2 1/2 years and more than 90% of the people working for Google were hired after her.)
We need to take the lead… the Blogvangelists, the Blogfathers and Blogmothers, the Constructivist Lead Learners, the Guerrilla Learners and EdTech Geeks need to step forward and make it happen. Lead by example, get in the face of those who are hesitant, resistant and even oppositional and take them by the hand, kicking and screaming like 4 year olds to the dentist and make it happen. I’m glad that Will mentioned the TED talks the other day and Malcom Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point.’ As leaders, we need to make the things we are all doing become ‘viral,’ where they ‘stick and spread’ to all of the teachers in our schools and then to the next school, and so on!
OK… down off the soap box…
Mike Curtin says
I think the whole notion that young teachers are inevitably innovators and, ahem, “more experienced” teachers are stodgy old burnouts is false, as suspect as the notion that all kids somehow “get” technology just by virtue of being young. I have worked with many older teachers whose experience served them well in selecting technology-supported instructional approaches and integrating them into their classrooms. Nowadays, I identify tech-savvy teachers as much by the technologies they reject and the reasons why as by the flashy new tools adorning their classrooms. Many new teachers lack that healthy skepticism and the patience and skill to make the tools they do deem to be appropriate work in their classrooms. We agree that schools need to change; I don’t think that means that the knowledge, commitment, thoughtfulness, and experience of older teachers can’t serve us well as we move forward.
I could not agree more. There is an expectation that young natives entering the profession inherently possess an understanding of the value of technology. Often times, tenured experienced teachers are viewed with contempt, when in fact many of the instructional expertise necessary to adopt and infuse these technologies are present in older portion of a districts population. I have sixteen years of experience, making me the tenth most senor member of a staff of 80. Does that make me the old guard, and if so, am I to be dismissed. In the building I work in, many of the newly hired teachers do not possess the capacity to understand the abstract “big picture” that these technologies play in the future of education. I also believe Kim may be onto something significant. Administrators, looking to hire young candidates, need to think about innovative methods that draw out qualified individuals. I have been a part of the hiring process, and have often left the process a little disappointed.
Will, thanks again, this has been one of the most thought provoking posts for me in a long while. The comments left by people are amazing. I love being a part of this form of intellectual exchange. Here’s an idea for @#*#@ and giggles, why don’t we form a formalized wiki that looks to address several key aspects of change. There are many schools willing to venture out into the educational realm of 21st century learning; however, they may not possess a starting point. We could begin to leverage the best practices of this community by subject or level, open a discussion board that continues these thought provoking ideas, and share our expertise in a manner that identifies necessary leadership qualities. If people like Viki Davis or yourself can produce a wiki that transcends the profession, why not develop one that addresses the theories of change. Include an administrative section, that identifies how today’s administrators can begin to immediately institute a new model that seeks out teachers that are both technologically informed, as well as pedagocially sound. Literally post a new methodology of questioning candidates. We could produce an abstract for educational change from the district, regional and even state level. Form a wiki, with practical expertise from the individuals knee deep in the movement, leveraging the greatest assets education has to offer, its teachers. Again, I may be missing the point. Thanks!!!
I feel compelled to add to this discussion because I am one of the students from class. Will said “I got the sense that most didnâ€™t want to accept that challenge or felt it was just too daunting.” I think Will might have said this in response to something I said in class. I also think the consensus from my class is that by entering this profession most of us have already accepted these challenges and want to work for a change. But if things remain the way they are that change is not going to happen overnight.
My point when saying that this course was an elective and the only time we talk about technology in the classroom was it might be beneficial to also see change in our graduate courses. And not only the technology ones, but the methods, literacy, history, math, ethics, and all the other courses we take. If we are going to be expected to implement these technological ideas in our future classrooms, shouldn’t we see them being used in our courses as well?
I will continue to try to learn as much as I can about this subject, but as a new teacher I know my plate will be full and it will be hard. I do believe, however, that just waiting for the old guard to leave is not the answer because some of those educators know more than me when it comes to technology. I think both old teachers and new teachers need to be educated from those, like most of you, who know what they are talking about. And until that happens I do not think change will take place. Or at least not as quick as we all would like to see. If it were not for this course I would not even be thinking about these topics.
Carolyn Foote says
I come to this conversation as an educator but also as a parent. My son as well as many of his friends attended and graduated from an excellent high school, yet something was lacking in his education, and that something was connection. Connection with the passion of learning, connection with technology, connection with the idea that school isn’t just something you do within the four walls of a building.
There are so many students that are smart, technology savvy, and open to learning. But they are stuck into a 7 period day, with subjects all separated into discrete packets, and little connection between them, and not much technology connection either.
As my campus is starting to change, and I’m beginning to see so much more that we as educators can do, I’ve been thinking about the students we have inadvertently failed, and what we could do better to reach those students who are bright and hunger for a more connected experience.
To me, the natural use of technology that our students employ in their outside lives is just one part of that, but an important part, because it is how they live and communicate. Technology offers students opportunity to connect beyond the walls of their school, to create new “transformative” products, to participate in the excitement of personal learning, and to feel that they are innovators, which brings a great deal of excitement and energy into a classroom.
So, the reason I’m eager for undergrads, graduate students, professors, teachers, and administrators to see that we need to do something different arises from my experiences as a parent. And I want to find a way that we can address ALL kids so that what we are doing is relevant and helpful to their lives long after they leave our campuses.
Karl Fisch says
Okay, I can’t do this justice because I need to go to bed so that I can be fresh for my next staff development session tomorrow starting at 7:25 am. But, very, very quick:
1. Kim – excellent idea about hiring teachers.
2. Pat – want to move to Colorado? I’ll do my best to get you hired in my school.
3. Will – my current estimate on how many people have seen Did You Know? is over 2 million (and that’s probably low). I may find time to blog about this eventually – some really interesting stories that Scott McLeod and I are hearing. YouTube is actually trailing the pack at around 500,000 (last time I checked the 10 or so postings there). Break.com is about to hit a million by itself. Glumbert.com doesn’t list views, but I emailed and asked about a week ago and it was over 360,000. MySpace is over 100,000. And posted many, many more places. Then add in direct downloads from blog postings and the viral email with direct link to Scott McLeod’s wmv version, and folks who’ve shown it at conferences and to groups . . . Anne Smith and I presented in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday and I finally thought to ask in the last session how many had seen Did You Know? before. There were about 35 people in the room (all or mostly teachers) – more than two-thirds raised their hands. I’m not sure what that all means, but it certainly means that an idea can get spread quickly. I’m just not sure Did You Know? was the idea I would’ve picked . . .
4. Everyone – wonderful and thought provoking comments. We’ve been struggling with these issues at my school just like everyone else – it’s just so great to learn from all of you and get ideas and inspiration of where to go from here.
Will, as always, thanks for starting, facilitating, and continuing the conversation. I know you probably don’t see it (or feel it), but your impact is tremendous. We’ll get there . . .
As a student that was in that class, I am sorry to hear that you felt discouraged by our discussion the other night. Although you may have perceived that we were overly “yeah, but”ish, I think one has to step into our shoes as the so called “technology saviors” and think about what immense pressure that puts on us as new and absolutely terrified teachers. With teacher accountability being the way it is and in an age of standardized tests many districts and administrators would not approve of us integrating many of the new and cool technologies that are available to us. No matter how cool and innovative I may think they are, are people TRULY expecting us to walk in the doors of our new schools and rock the boat? I’m sorry, but I’d like to keep my job for more than a year. I know many schools like to say that they are integrating technology into the classrooms today, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think many of the administrators really allow their teachers to use technology in the ways that may be available. I hope I am not in one of these districts because I truly do see the educational value in using these tools, but I’ll be the first to admit that I am not going to go head to head with my administrator if they do not want me to use them. I would do my best to explain their value, but when it comes down to it, if they say no, no it is. Perhaps when my generation fills the positions of superintendents, principals, and veteran teachers, technology will truly be accepted into the educational atmosphere. I’d like to think it will be sooner than this, but as long as the “old guard” still hold the power, the new guard aren’t going to stage a coup d’etat.
On a positive note, I truly enjoyed your presence in our classroom the other night and learned an amazing amount of information in a short period of time. I’d also like to note that I think your disappointment with us is understandable, but I think you’re being little too hard on us. We want change, we really do. But, we’d also like to keep our jobs! =)
Stony Grunow says
As another student in the class, I thought I would respond as well.
I think that you, Will, (to your credit) are merging two disparate ideas into your new concept of learning. You are combining the read-write web with a student centered/led/oriented approach in which learners have internal motivation.
These are two fundamentally different ideas. Our current approach to teaching, which is carrot (Grades, Praise) and stick (Grades and detention) is fundamentally incompatible with a student-led approach to learning. You simply cannot go into a classroom of children who have, for the last 10 years, been told where to go, what to do, how to learn, when to learn, and why they should learn, and hope that these students, upon receiving an ipod, will begin to create their own educational experience.
The weak link is not the technology, or the power of your ideas, which were eloquently expressed both in your book and during our class.
We all know the answer to the following question – is it easier to give an independent learner a new tool, or is it easier to teach the joy of learning to an externally motivated child who already has all the tools?
If you run into brick walls during your effort to promote this new paradigm, I don’t think you should question the validity of your ideas or methods. They are sound. While you may have been frustrated by the reception you received in class, I would argue that, if asked, our class would unanimously answered “yes!” to questions like “Do we hope Will Richardson is Right” and “Would we like the opportunity to pursue his ideas” and “Would we recommend his book to other teachers?”
No – don’t question your ideas or methods. Question what is fighting you. Question the structures and the organizations. I would point you to a few resources.
First, reading Howard Zinn’s ‘People’s History of the United States’ may take a while, but it is worth it to understand the movements this country has gone through – movements you won’t learn about in traditional channels.
Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed might be an excellent choice, though as I haven’t finished it yet I don’t want to wholeheartedly recommend it.
And, finally, the shortest text, I would read John Taylor Gatto’s ‘7 Lesson Schoolteacher’
in any case,
Will Richardson says
Just want to say that I’m really pleased that some of the students jumped in here. And thanks Mary Jo, Ashley and Stony for your thoughtful responses. This has been one of those amazing threads that illustrate the learning that I talked about in class. Mary Joand Ashley, I want to say again that I totally understand your fears, but I hope you take on the challenge of seeing where learning lies for yourselves in this space regardless of what you think you can bring to your classroom. And Stony I think you are right in the way you frame the friction point here. These tools are student-centered, constructivist at their core with a bit more built in. The structures and organizations are the roadblock to classroom integration, but I’d reiterate again that nothing but time and commitment (and perhaps, connection) stands in the way of an individual understanding of the shifts that are occurring. Thanks to all of you for chiming in. Hope you found this discussion fruitful and will stop back.
Carolyn Foote says
What I would say to you is this–seek the opportunity to find a job at a school where you feel the administrator supports this vision of technology. As new teachers, you all have tremendous choice at selecting a school where you feel like you will be able to innovate and be successful.
And you might be surprised that at many campuses, principals are happy to find new teachers willing to open the doors to new tools.
We talked about the issue of accountability and using web 2.0 at a recent workshop (by Will) at my campus. My point to the teachers was–you can embed these tools into the “required” elements of the curriculum, and we put ourselves in a box if we feel like accountability prevents that. Accountability doesn’t mean we can’t have innovative uses of technology that enhance and expand student learning, because what we are accountable for in the end, is that our students leave us as lifelong, engaged learners.
What an engaging discussion.
Something I’m really responding to comes from a teacher education direction – why is it that we are limiting the critical examination of the pedagogies associated with these tools to ONE class? I don’t think that this is reflective of this particular institution – I see it across many, many programs – even though the research bears out that this approach has little, if any impact on beginning teacher’s practice.
I want to throw the question to the students – given the dialogue you’ve had with Will and here on the blog – how do we make this part of a teacher education program meaningful? (I have my own “loaded beliefs that look for something transparent across an entire program of studies – where faculty are models of practice through both pedagogy and ways of problematizing the value-added by particular tools given the context of the classroom and curricular demands, etc.)
On another note, we’ve historically looked to new teachers to be the change agents in schools – even at the student teaching phase (where many placements are based upon a student teacher serving as a model for a underperforming “mentor”). That pressure that you all feel is something that is ingrained into teacher education – and one of the things that I think leads new teachers to not stay in the profession…
Janice Friesen says
I have been excited about educational technology and working in the area for over 15 years and I keep hearing that same thing… and I know that those early adopters who started using computers in the early 80s were also hearing it. “When the new generation of teachers arrive it will be different.” This discussion has pointed out some really basic ideas of why this has not happened.
I want to share another thought. A few years back I spoke to a class of undergrads in the teaching program at the University of Missouri. I started by asking them how much they had used computers in their own education. MOST of them had not used them hardly at all-until college and not much then (except for typing papers). They talked about the Apple IIe down the hallway that they sometimes got to use.
I think that things are changing, but we have not hit the tipping point. New teachers ARE making a difference in many places. They ARE more comfortable with technology and less afraid of breaking things. They HAVE read Wil Richardson’s book and/or blog and/or other things that have stretched their thinking. It WILL happen…
I’m a technologist, not an educator, but hope that I’m a lifelong learner and lifelong teacher (the best way to really learn). From my perspective, there can’t be a choice. No room for yeah, but. The only yeah, but is yeah, but if we don’t change then we’ll be extinct. Traditional education is already so far behind, partially because of yeah, but mentality. Easy to say as a technologist, but I feel education needs to build for the world as it will exist 10 years from now, otherwise will continue to live in the past. Try to catch up to 2007 and we’ll get there by 2011.
Ken Pruitt says
Am I wrong in being disturbed that the students are worried that progress in their methods will get them fired?
I subscribe to the “subvert from within” theory. You can make change, you just have to do it. Remember it is easier to apologize than to ask permission.
If you a quality candidate you will keep your job. If you are using tech as an out to actual interaction with your students, you may be fired. Just know why you are doing what you do.
Will Richardson says
Sara: Thanks so much for commenting. (Wish you would chime in here more often…) I think the “how do we make this meaningful?” question is critical. It is striking, isn’t it, how the use of technology is perceived to be a liability by new teachers. Startling, in fact.
Janice: Thanks to you too for getting your voice in here. We have been looking to the younger teachers for quite a while now haven’t me. And as this thread seems to indicate, maybe it’s well past the time to just give that up.
And one other thing…Karl’s video…viewed over 2 million times. Whoa! Now that’s a reach that just amazes me. How do we leverage that???
Andrew Pass says
WIll, Dan Lortie, in the School Teachers talks about the culture of practice. Reform is so slow to occur in schools because once teachers are there for a few years they become acculturated to “the way things are done.” I think we are in a predicement – we are not going to revolutionize schools – if schools change it will be an evolution. At the same time change to incorporate the latest technology is essential if America is going to continue to compete internationally. I hate to say it, but increasingly I don’t think that the United States will successfully compete. If something significant does not happen soon, our grandchildren will not think of the U.S. as a first world nation.
Robert Missonis says
I think talking to grad students in the ivory tower or to teachers at a conference won’t do any good. The way technology will be more rampant is as more and more people see it in action. When your grad students do their observations and student teaching with a teacher who uses technology, is when the real change will begin to happen. When teachers see their classroom neighbors and people they share rooms with use technology, that is when the change will happen. When students begin to expect technology as they expect note taking in their classes and will tell of their amazing and worthwhile projects to their parents, then it will happen. Giving out books or articles or jumping up/down with excitement just won’t cut it. I think most people will actually have to see it in use successfully, before they will jump on. That has been my experience. I can tell people about great ideas, but until they see it done in an actual classroom they are reluctant to try it, but once you set up a class wiki, blog or podcast and they see the excitement and engagement on the students’ faces then they jump in eagerly.
Wow! You’re lectures and blogs are just amazing. I can only hope that I can articulate my feelings about educational technology to those I work with. I don’t want to be the “yeah, but” person! I am trying very hard to break out of the traditional algebra II teacher shell I am in. After all, it was how I was taught to teach! It IS difficult, but I believe that “the shift” is contagious. I have been influenced by my instructor. I can only hope that I can pass on what I have learned to others, and so on…
What’s the point of having new teachers if they are not for new technology. The “yeah, but” mentality should be discouraged. It’s a tradition that must be stopped. Most of the people lived with “yeah, but”. Now it must be positive.
Scott McLeod says
Wow. What a great dialogue…
Two quick thoughts:
1. Never underestimate the power of a technologically-unknowledgeable principal or professor to thoroughly quash any innovative technological leanings an educator might have. Ditto, of course, for the K-12 student-teacher relationship.
2. As the other part of the Did You Know? equation, I concur with Karl’s estimate. 2 million viewings, easy. That said, I was talking with a college of education dean lately about scholarship and mentioned that I didn’t really know what it meant for academia when something like this can be created and viewed so widely. Her response: well, of course that wouldn’t really count for promotion and tenure… (because it’s not a scholarly, peer-reviewed article in what is probably a journal with readership in the low thousands (at best))
Gotta love the world I (and the students you talked with, Will) live in!
Leif Harboe (Norway) says
First, it must be a fulltime job to answer all these comments!
To use technology in school (especially web 2.0 tools) – I think you still have to be some kind of innovation and pioneering personality. Perhaps the majority of those who seek the teaching profession are not those persons. They are likely to repeat the kind of practice they have experienced themselves – at least for the first years in their profession till they have gained confidence enough to change and do something else!
Secondly – I don’t think the use of ICT should be something like a course in teacher training – it should be fully integrated in the way teacher training are organized. Would you say that web 2.0 tools are a fully integrated part in you colleges?
Diane Woodard says
I had a similar experience two weeks ago. I had a group of 6th graders and their teacher presenting to pre-service teachers at the University of Montana. The students were showing these pre-service teachers how they use the palm handheld computers in the classroom. As a follow-up I talked to them about what their classrooms might look like in a couple of years. I referenced your new book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts… and described the experience that I had with my 16 year old daughter a few weeks prior.
She was writing an essay, texting her friends, updating her myspace, iming several people and using wikipedia to get some information for her paper. I tried to explain to these U of M pre-service teachers, that we need to try and tap into some of these technolgies that seem to be engaging our k-12 students! YES, hyper-text minds! We must find a way to engage students in the methods in which they are accustom to or we will not be reaching their needs! Honestly, they will eat us for lunch in the classroom and more importantly we will not have impacted them in they way we should be!
I am involved in a lot of teacher training and I will be using your book as a reference in all of my trainings. I attended the NCCE conference in Spokane, Washington a couple of weeks ago. I was fornutate enough to get an autographed book from you. I must say, I am through the first two chapters and I have more sticky notes and references than in any book I have ever read! At the NCCE conference I was presented with their “Technology Leader of the Year” award and it was a most humbling experience! I have been using blogs for a couple of years but I really was not doing much more than posting. Your book has me whirling in a million directions! As I continue to speak to teachers, in Western Montana, I will be using many of the examples from your book. Thank you for your book and your weblogg-ed it has impacted, and will continue to impact many rural schools in Montana!
Harry Musto says
It is important to note that new teachers may be just as hesitant to use this technology as old teachers. For some twenty somethings, they are uncomfortable implementing new technologies because of their own lack of experience. I myself find it extremely important to use technology in the classroom, even something as simple as laptops for internet use, so that children see how fortunate they are to have so much information at their fingertips. But even with this attitude, I sometimes have to convince myself to use these technologies out of fear of coming off as unknowledgeable. But I have to say that I completely agree that these technologies must be implemented if we are going to give our students a fair chance in our everchanging society.
p.s. The mere fact that I can interact with the author I read for my class this winter shows how awesome these technologies really are.
Steve Ransom says
New technology is bunk!!!
Now that I said that, let me qualify it. To me, the larger issue has nothing to do with technology. There is no way we will see mass paradigm shifting with technology as the focus until we see mass paradigm shifing with PEDAGOGY as the focus. We keep talking about how technology has the potential to facilitate big changes in teaching and learning (and don’t get me wrong – it can). However, when teachers and preservice teachers are still operating pretty much within a more traditional paradigm, technology will only get as far as being “integrated” into existing practices (Cuban) rather than becoming some amazing tool for student centered, more constructivist practices. It is similiar to the important practice of using manipulatives in the teaching of mathematics. Most (not all) teachers that I know at best “integrate” manipulatives into math because they are told to or because the textbook tells them to. Many do not use them at all. Why? Because they have not learned/experience the value of doing things differenly. These are the same teachers that we want to see transforming their practice with new technologies? I don’t think so.
Effective, relevant teaching has to preceed effective, relevant teaching with technology, I think. As a very big “tech geek” myself, I would much have my son in a classroom with an excellent teacher than a mediocre one trying with little understanding and conviction to “integrate” technology. A Smart board, personal response systems, and high-speed Internet is motivating and fun for kids. Jerome Bruner wrote in 1960, “What one does and how one teaches with the aid of such devices (teaching machines) depends upon the skill and wisdom that goes into the construction of a program of problems”. I think it is still relevant today.
Kid’s will abuse technology?
What they don’t “abuse” pencils and paper? How many of us have had to reign in paper air planes, or had to confiscate inappropriate notes?
Kids will be kids; mischief will be mischief. The excuse that they’ll abuse the technology is as old as the paintings on the walls of caves.
Ken Pruitt says
“Hyper-text”/link minds. I like it
Teachers are an important part of any change in education. In my district (and I’d imagine, most districts) teachers don’t control technology. A technology department controls technology.
To me, discussion about teachers supporting stronger technology integration in the classroom with newer, often web-based, tech is purely academic. Until our technology departments lose their fear of changing solutions and learn to choose the best, most forward-thinking solutions, there will be no change.
I’m fresh meat in the edu-tech area, and it’s exhausting to continually try to convince directors that there are better solutions, have them agree, and then start “yeah, buts”. The solutions are cheap and well within budget, and most are either so simple that training wouldn’t be necessary, or so incredible that teachers say they will come to voluntary, unpaid training to get access to the tool.
How do we get through to the actual decision-makers?
Dan Bowling says
I am a new teacher and I see a huge value in using many forms of online technologies to improve learning; my problem is not a lack of desire, or skill, but administrative support (both through funding, policy, and server technology.)
Though remotely hosted solutions are good for the inexperienced, I prefer to run my own install for maximum control, but school districts just don’t want to support those types of things. It’s hard enough getting a basic web space, let alone a database and language support.
Karen Stearns says
Hi Will, wish you’d referenced similar experiences with students in CNY last November. I do see the students you spoke to, many now either in the undergrad. tech class I teach or student teaching this semester changing it up. The impact of one course, one book and your visit has been profound at Cortland. We haven’t been in touch in awhile…glad you’re getting the students’ voice out there. And so happy to see so many responses here.
Scott Lazovik says
I disagree with the idea that new teachers are to be expected to be the technology innovators. It should be teachers currently teaching in the district that should be the ones to step forward, not newly graduated teachers. First, most undergraduate education programs are out of touch with teaching technology to educators. I would also argue that higher learning institutions are also out of touch with teaching todayâ€™s teachers, but thatâ€™s a whole different discussion. There was very little use of technology in any of the classes I had in my undergraduate work. Things might have changed (I am going on 10 years since I was an undergrad). So you can’t expect new teachers to be the ones to use technology if they haven’t even been taught themselves. Then it’s expected that these new teachers incorporate it into the curriculum that they don’t even know? I know my first year teaching I was trying to stay a day ahead with my lesson plans.
There are two main issues with technology in schools or any learning for that matter – time and breaking the culture of school. Those are the keys to creating educational innovators or at least more teachers using “best practices” in schools. Time needs to be taken to teach the teachers about curriculum, teaching practices, and technology. Teachers then need to determine ways to use it with their class that make it worthwhile. So often teachers are learning some new school initiative one year and all the time is spent going through all the different functions it can do and no time is taken for teachers to connect it to their curriculum. Then the next year it’s on to something new.
The other problem teachers and new teachers especially would run into is the culture of the school. So many teachers are used to teaching in isolation. Time is not always there to meet with other teachers. Then a new teacher is going to come in and change seasoned veterans’ minds about technology and show them up?
I believe technology is a way that some of the changes to school culture can fixed. But it needs to come through teachers who know the curriculum and have been teaching a number of years. My third year of teaching the same subject was when I finally felt I had a grip on where my students needed to be by the end of the year and how we could get there. These teachers can make changes to the school they are at and the biggest change is to share with other teachers. Talk about what is working or what ideas do others have in the teacher’s lounge instead of complaining about kids. I have hopes of making those changes in my building. Start small and all the little changes can eventually create the big one you are hoping to achieve.
New teachers have to be positive about their job. In the case of our emerging technology, we need to be technology based for a better and effective teaching. It’s time to cut back on pessimism and start being optimistic.
This whole situation is a catch-22.
No, most of the colleges are NOT teaching students any of the newest technology out there. As a recent graduate, my experience was rather dismal in that department. Several of my professors told me not to bother sending e-mails, because they don’t look at them nor respond to them. Yikes! While that was not the majority, how can we expect to learn how to use the new tech, when we are being trained by people who know nothing about it?
Second, what is the point of being trained in the newest technology when, as Dave pointed out, the decision makers are choosing not to have the new technologies available in the majority of the schools we will teach in.
No, I am not prepared to be a teacher in the web 2.0 environment, but I am more than willing to learn it. But where will I have to move to find a school that has the technology and the willingness to help me incorporate it into our everyday learning?
Sure, parents want their children to be attending schools where they will have the optimum learning opportunities, but they do not want higher tax burdens to provide those new technologies. How many parents do you see at school board meetings demanding that we better prepare the children for the technologies of today and tomorrow?
No easy answers here, folks!
Just wanted to add my comment that I found this very informative and thought provoking. One I will banter around the staff room on Monday morning.
This is something I have been thinking about so I will just float it out there. I wonder if part of the resistance to technology has to do with something very basic. Teaching is an extreme f2f environment. Networks, the internet, Web 2.0 communities and technologies are virtual. Maybe teachers canâ€™t quite cross that chasm (as in the book Crossing the Chasm). Thinking is virtual; talking is not.