Where are you on the four-step process, as outlined by Prensky? This depends on the teacher and the time of the year, and not on our learners. As the Tech Coordinator in an international school it I am happy if everyone is on the continuum somewhere. I know that teachers have different comfort zones and technology puts people in 3 firm camps: Early adopters and innovators, I’m excited and ready to go but don’t have the skills or confidence, and I’m too busy for that.
I am also aware that it is hard to get people on the road to dabbling however, it is often far more difficult to get people to move from doing old things in new ways to doing new things in new ways. Just walking around the school I look at our investments in technology and wonder if that investment is paying dividends… Interactive whiteboards (IWB) now there is a lot of money and massive investments in time for training – has it transformed our teaching? Have they transformed the learning in our classroom? Or are they just fancy OHPs? Are all the interactive features being used or are we just projecting onto the wall? is this adequate technology in our school? Raj Dhingra supports the idea presented by Prensky – We still have the ‘traditional classroom’ and that ‘we are delivering learning just like we did when we didn’t have computers’.
Is it any wonder that some people are technologically fatigued? Old things in old ways will ensure this. How many of us have entered our curriculum, lesson plans or teaching units into a plethora of different ‘online tools’ that have promised to revolutionize collaboration and our effectiveness as a teacher? Yes, I am sure we have all been there and just see it as moving what we already do from one place to another… another job on an already long list! I see this in the classroom all to often, computers or iPads used in place of text books for ‘researching’ and word processors used as a publishing tool after the the integral jobs of editing and redrafting have taken place on paper! I remember my school days and although we did not have computers we certainly had beautiful handwriting pens and fancy paper – ‘old things in old ways’ or is this ‘old things in new ways’? I’d argue the former, nothing has really moved forward.
I’d further argue that the accent that you bring to technology is irrelevant. It is our duty as educators and life long learners to adapt to our learners needs. Understand that: yes, not having one to one in the classroom is difficult and constantly adjusting our lessons to ensure that we are using todays resources is hard work! However, we must invest this time and effort if we are to prepare our learners for the future. This is sentiment echoed by Raj Dhingra in his talk ‘Can technology change education’. He highlights that the idea that ‘big dreams need big budget’ is a myth.
You Tube is a scary place, what if we paint our school in a bad light? How can we ensure that students are using their technology for educational purposes 24/7? We need to trust in our learners and give them the key skills that they need to merge their formal and informal learning in an online space and through technology.
This merger is key for our students to invent and innovate – doing new things in new ways! Prensky puts it beautifully,
“So, let’s not just adopt technology into our schools. Let’s adapt it, push it, pull it, iterate with it, experiment with it, test it, and redo it, until we reach the point where we and our kids truly feel we’ve done our very best. Then, let’s push it and pull it some more. And let’s do it quickly, so the 22nd century doesn’t catch us by surprise with too much of our work undone.
A big effort? Absolutely. But our kids deserve no less.”