Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Trouble With Technology...

… is that we keep talking about technical features and not benefits. Sure, we’re on the cutting edge of modern technology; Millenials can’t remember a time without computers and cell phones. But it often seems that we are so fascinated by what it is (8 gig i-pod©, a ‘Smartboard©’, Twitter©, a Linksys© router, a Blackberry Curve© with e-mail and internet access, etc.) that we forget about what it does.

It’s especially true for tech educators. Programs at tech conventions are full of features. (Digital storytelling, Inspiration© software, Facebook©, Myspace©, Quia©, Teachertube©, etc.)

So what?

Until we begin to talk about the benefits of technology, we are less able to teach each other. A laptop example comes to mind. Schools around the state have adopted laptop programs. Did the “sale” relate to the big benefits to students, that almost no question could not be answered? Or that the traditional role of teacher as fount of knowledge might shift powerfully to student-centered collaboration? Answers 24/7?; MS Word docs that help a student edit their words for specific audiences and improve writing?; a GPS system that helps our students really learn South Dakota geography?

Should the technologies used in classrooms be stated in terms of benefits to learners?


qw002 said...

I fall in to the category of "What is this?" rather than asking the question, "How can I possibly use this new technology to improve my instructional strategies?"

Some of the problem is that these new technologies change so often that teachers are apprehensive to develop a strategy to use them, for fear of having to do change what they are doing in less than a year, when the technology shifts.

JHH said...

Great point by QW02!

I hate it when someone else changes the technical pallet on me. But think how our students feel when they can learn and collaborate in a vivid 2.0 environment, only to arrive at a school with worksheets, 99% rote learning of facts and teacher-centered lectures or tech that changes! Still, they seem to handle tech change better than we do.

Change happens and it happens fast. I can only remember what I use, but as an English/Speech teacher, everything I do is about literacy, not technology.

Technology is just the carrier: We make a mistake if we believe the tech is the learning itself. Thinking that way makes us "teacher geeks".

David Warlick writes in his wonderful book ReDefining Literacy 2.0, "The skills and habits involved in using information to accomplish goals - literacy - are much more appropriate to our efforts as educators than practices in operating machines. Educators should seek to integrate literacy, rather than integrate technology."

I believe all teachers should be using and teaching to this new definition of literacy as using information to accomplish goals. That might really change learning.

am027 said...

Schools should be using technology, but school funding has been the issue. In some communities, the school districts cannot afford new textbooks, training, and the expensive new equipment.