Taking Responsibility

There’s a really interesting conversation going on over at Scott Mcleod’s blog about teachers who refuse to use technology. I titled this post “Taking Responsibility” instead of professional development because it it’s not just about PD, especially not about school-provided PD, which is often the complaint teachers make about using technology. “They tell us to use tech, but then they don’t train us.” Would you say the same thing about teaching your subject area? I do think that schools have some responsibility to provide opportunities for pd, but that teachers need to figure things out for themselves at times. And yes, that takes time, often time you don’t have.

My friend Alan Levine once said that you can’t and shouldn’t create a step by step recipe for people to use technology in their classroom. They need to experience it and live it and figure out the best way that works for them. Here’s his disposition on that idea, which is still worth reading today. I complained a lot about having to fish for people, or worse, as Alan put it, to create fish nuggets for them in neat little packages. As I was digging around my own blog to find references to these complaints, I saw a progression of increasingly feeling like I was on an assembly line rather than being valued for my ideas. So against my own philosophy that I left.

The culture I’m in now isn’t like that, though that’s not to say there aren’t a few who feel that someone should do the tech for them or just don’t use it because they don’t prioritize learning it. But mostly, teachers are figuring it out for themselves. I may lead them in a direction, but then they go off, do some exploring, come back with ideas and even teach me new things. I feel that we still have a long way to go in getting to a place where it’s just part of what we do without thinking about it too much.

It’s tough figuring out what to do about helping folks get this culture. Just telling them to do it doesn’t seem to work. Workshops aren’t always enough. Boot camp? Sending them out for conferences, especially edcamp like ones? Pressure from students and parents? Make it part of Ed programs? And how much do we push? What level of integration do we need to see before we feel like we’ve satisfied some level of tech integration? The thing is, you can’t stop. That’s what I think bothers people most. Technology changes at light speed. Just as no paper is ever finished–there are always revisions that could be made–you’re never done getting tech into your classes. I’m not using the same tools I was using 4 years ago. Some are the same, but I’ve added many more. And I keep adding more and dropping those that don’t work. Nothing is fixed. Not curriculum. Not technology. Not learning. We ask our students to keep learning. So should we.

4 Replies to “Taking Responsibility”

  1. “It’s tough figuring out what to do about helping folks get this culture. Just telling them to do it doesn’t seem to work.”

    I thought this when I read your experiences in higher ed, too, of feeling that you were being pushed into being a assembly-line tech person, when I was experiencing tech issues from the other side (i.e. online training, online compliance forms, electronics grants forms that pushed the grant deadline back by a month, . . . .). I guess my argument is that you can’t tell them to do anything — you have to show them how their mission (which may be teaching english or doing research or teaching spanish) will be improved if they acquire the tech knowledge. As long as that’s not the case (smartboards!) they won’t learn it, and they’ll get frustrated if you provide the tool and it doesn’t work seamlessly.

    In the case of electronic grant submission, the first steps made life more difficult for the people submitting the grants — shorter deadlines, submission forms that didn’t work, . . . . Now that the benefits have trickled out (pre-filling forms, automatic checking of arithmetic errors, unfilled fields, and returning deadlines), think people don’t complain. I there’s a bit of tech resistance that’s luddite, but much of it results from tools that are not making people’s missions more tractable.

  2. I agree, bj. I think what I see is teachers sort of passively accepting whatever tech comes down the pipeline, rather than working to figure out what would be best for them. I honestly can’t tell someone the perfect thing to use. I can make suggestions based on what they tell me their goals are, but then they need to take it from there.

    So I try to show them, but if they don’t buy it, they don’t buy it. Thankfully, this really is an infrequent thing for my teachers.

  3. Yes, it is very important for people to learn and make experiences for themselves, but at the same time, why make the same mistakes. If you know something, why not pass on the knowledge especially when it comes to the security and safety of others using technology? Internet and technology safety is really important to understand these days especially as the technology keeps getting increasingly smarter. It can do almost anything these days. Understanding the “rules” of the internet can save time, lives, and so much more.
    Privacy, representation, reputation, sense of exposure, and audience are all things that should be payed close attention to. The internet makes it easy these days to get privacy invasion and identity theft. Computer technologies have so many ethical implications that no one really pays attention to. They truly test a person’s character. Also, using a person’s ethical implications can help decide what is accurate and normal on the internet based on context. knowing what internet sources to look for like “.com” “.org” or “.edu” when researching can save so much time.

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