We have all heard it over and over again: “Try this new tool!” “This will make your job so much easier!” Technology in education is everywhere. Some embrace it with open arms, others do not. I am going to share my experience with technology and explore how we as educators can make technology friendly so colleagues buy in when new technology presents itself.
Technology in My Early Days
I only started teaching six years ago, but I am always taken aback when I remember what I started with. Hired to cover a long-term occasional (LTO) in an alternative program was a huge undertaking for a rookie. A year out if teachers college and newly back in Ontario, I had experienced what technology could do and saw great value and potential. However, in my new location, cutting-edge technology was scarce. With spotty Internet and outdated technology, I quickly learned to dismiss technology and focus on more traditional methods to keep my head above water. I am sad to say, I became one of those grumbling people at the professional development that rolled their eyes when someone tried to tell me about the newest tool: “That’s great, but I do not see how that could work for me…” Sadly, I just did not see the value.
Now that I have had the opportunity to really see what technology can do with it is properly supported and maintained, I do not know how I ever taught without it. 10 Reason Today’s Students Need Technology in the Classroom outlines why today’s student needs technology in their classroom. Out of all the reasons, I find reason 5 to be the most pertinent. According to Wainwright, “Integrating technology in education every day helps students stay engaged.” Engagement. Is that not the number one challenge when it comes to teaching? If I had realized this early on, I think I would have fought a little harder to realize that potential. Ask any teacher and they would tell you that engagement is on the top of their list when it comes to what they believe would make their practice more effective.
What’s so Scary?
If that is the case, then why is there still push back from some when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom? Aside from the lack of resources or support, why do some still push back? What are they afraid of? Are Teachers Afraid of Technology argues that a fear of technology comes from the natural instinct of some to assume that technology is complicated and that they are going to inevitably “screw it up” (Liberman). Liberman goes on to argue that it is not only a fear of getting it wrong that holds a lot of teacher back, but that it is also a high level of frustration that holds them back. This, I can relate to. That was me six short years ago.
How to Make It Friendly
What that said, how can we, those of us who are pro-tech and see the value in it, encourage our colleagues who are standoffish when it comes to tech that the benefits far out weight the cons? According to Training Teachers Who Are Terrorized by Technology, patient responses and a willingness to help (no matter what the inquiry) is the key to helping those “terrorized by technology” to become more willing participants (Hopkins, 2013). If they see you as a non-judgemental partner in the use of technology, the teacher experiencing difficulty is much more likely to see out your help and use the technology.
It is really simple, those who will not use technology are often afraid of coming off as unintelligent or outdated. Unfortunately, this fear often holds them back. However, when it comes to my problem in the beginning (inadequate infrastructure), I do not really have any answers. Maybe this is a topic for another blog…
Hopkins, G. (2013). Training teachers who are terrorized by technology. Education World.
Liberman, W. Are teachers afraid of technology? TEACH Mag.
Wainwright, A. 10 Reasons today’s students NEED technology in the classroom.