Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's not about the technology?

The truth of the statement, "It's not about the technology, it's about the pedagogy", has become clearer and clearer to me over the last 12 months.

After spending the last few days working on a presentation for a conference and trying to present my argument for a shift in our teaching approaches in a way which is (hopefully) not too confrontational I've really come to realise that it's true.

At the end of the day does my classroom need technology in it to be innovative, to be 21st Century? In short the answer is no...despite my belief that technology used well can enhance a class's learning environment, making it more flexible, more personalised, more open. At the end of the day though teaching (and more importantly, Learning) will not be stopped in a room without technology.

So, if technology's not the key to kids learning, what is?

It's us...the teachers.

It doesn't matter if we're a graduate, a veteran with 30 years experience, a part-timer, a specialist...whatever, if we're doing our job we're:
  • Engaging students
  • Providing them with a variety of independent and collaborative projects to enrich their learning experiences
  • Facilitating their growth towards independent, life-long learning
  • Supporting them

As a technology enthusiast I have caught myself occassionally thinking poorly of a colleague who doesn't use technology in their classrooms. There's a lot of misunderstanding between those of us converted to technology and those teachers who as of yet haven't jumped on the bandwagon - and we really need to make sure that that misunderstanding doesn't evolve into an us and them attitude.

Those of us who are already converts need to understand that everyone's experience and engagement with technology is different and we can't expect those people with fear/confusion/hesitation to take a giant leap forward and jump up next to us. Some people will take YEARS to see that what we're achieving is valid, while others need to be shown once and then the next time we look around they're way out in front of us.

For me, from now on, I'm going to stay very aware that it's not about the technology, it's about the pedagogy and instead of judging those not yet on the technology wagon I'm going to try understanding where they're at in their journey.

I've got a feeling it's likely to get more of a response than "You must integrate technology to be a 21st Century teacher."


stoneTeacher said...

Mobbsey, thanks for your thoughts on technology in education - very timely considering the push for educators to embrace advances in communications technologies, with very little increase in infrastructure and training support.

daibarnes said...

Great post.

Technology is about enriching learning. Teaching is about enriching learning. Modelling the relationship between yourself and the material - the subject. Technology cannot substitute that; it cannot be a role model to young people trying to understand a topic or concept. It can be lots of excellent things though because it provides so many wonderful tools that help one-to-many relationships that teachers have to sustain, or scaffold collaboration on a scale not often seen in the classroom. Getting pupils to learn together and from each other is difficult. It is when the more technophobic teachers see that technology builds the bridges between us that they might take a leap of faith.

The foot in the door is to acknowledge good practice and demonstrate how you can make it easier with technology, or, as is the case with some teachers, start doing it using technology.

Any positive spin that has an impact upon the suspicious and successful teacher is valuable. And it is entirely understandable that many techologyless teachers question us ed tech evangalists. It should never just be for the sake of it.

dean said...

Technology is merely a convenient flexible conduit for learning - if you understand that it's no longer something to be 'mastered'.

The changes in education that are possible with technology today, were not possible a decade ago, so I don't think that teachers would prefer to drive a 10 year old car, use a 10 year old mobile phone etc., yet in ICT, they have made little or no progression, as they don't explore what is possible.

For change to happen, then schools need to formulate a strategic framework to make it happen. Inside that they need it identify their big priorities and then work out what their goals are.

Right now teachers are working in isolation and largely excluded from any strategic plan, operational plan or even action research - so it's really hard to get new frameworks from that position.

I do believe the next decade will see teachers who understand 'metalanguage' and media literate will be critical - they are now, but the HR criteria to appoint them to leadership positions focuses on time served, not relevance.

There is no doubt technology will change learning - but not sure the laggards realise just how much - with or without them. Schools will have to change, they cannot maintain their current course. Learning is distributed and so are the teachers.

nice post, I look forward to see what you do in 2009.

Patrick Black said...

Great Post! This approach would be very beneficial to helping teachers as well as admin, school boards and the like. It's very interesting that so many people use technology, but there is so little support for it in the classroom.

Nic Mobbs said...

Thanks for the comments, one and all!

@stoneTeacher - Infrastructure is a major issue and it's not just at a school level either. Without the infrastructure it's impossible to offer enough training - it's a great big catch 22 in so many ways and we're left trying to sort out the mess in order to provide our students with the best we can.

@daibarnes - You're completely right, once we get our feet in the door hopefully we'll be able to spark some real change for these teachers.

@dean - Agreed, our leaders need to get on board if what we're trying to achieve is to snowball into some sort of true educational reform. I also think you're right when it comes to the fact that the next decade will really be key in beginning this - more and more teachers will come on board and (hopefully) more will take on leadership roles, can't wait to see what they do. I wonder how many will show themselves to be "flipstars"?

@patrick - It's hard for admin to support something they often have to evaluate against criteria which aren't very pro-technology. Costs of infrstructure, training and implementation, the emphasis on the bench mark exams - these things don't always encourage support of tech use in the classroom. I guess that's why we need to supprt each other so much!

Lorraine said...

One of my greatest technology mentors did not actually use technology except for email. However she knew the questions to ask me and the feedback to give me to encourage me to use the tools that I was most comfortable with (technology tools) to teach. My role model for lifelong learning is Skipper Rich Wilson. As he sails, he is constantly demonstrating through his podcasts, blogs and audiofiles what it means to be a lifelong learner.
Enjoy the blogging challenge and best of luck in reaching your '09 goals.