Here is the subject line from an email I received today from eSchoolNews:
eSN: Emerging technologies educators can't ignore
Oh yes they can. And they will.
The article dealt with blogs, digital curriculum materials (digital textbooks), as well as cell phone and iPod technology, all technologies with much capability to help us restructure how teaching and learning occurs, but with actually very little potential to do so.
Now, before you fire up that comment button, let me make my argument.
The problem lies with the concept of technology integration and of teacher’s perceptions of the instructional value of technology, among other's but I'm starting there.
Let’s begin with technology integration. I’ve argued for a long time that this was an inappropriate terminology because it implies a “top-down” add on, bolt-on to something a teacher already does, and might do successfully. Why add technology? Why take the time? My lesson works already. How often have you heard “I don’t have the time to do anything new.” What’s needed is a view that teaching and learning with technology should be “bottom-up.” In other words, when a lesson is designed, the application of technology to the learning process should be evaluated against lesson goals, just like any other tool (cooperative learning, lecture, lab, discussion, etc.). If technology extends the learning opportunity (for example, the process of digital storytelling) and adds value to the lesson then use technology. If not, don’t. I read with interest in David Warlick’s blog today, via John Peterson, who linked technology integration to extra credit. I agree with David, I think he has hit the nail on the head. Technology integration = extra credit for teachers. That provides a very simple equation to explain the current perception of technology use that most teachers hold. Most don’t get evaluated on their use of technology and they have always been successful teachers. Why change what works? Well, at the risk of stating the not-so-obvious-to-many, because kids have changed, what they are expected to do once they leave school has changed, and they way in which they learn has changed.
You can read above that many of my comments are directed at teachers. Well, so be it-I taught for 15 years so I have standing to make the comment. They have to assume some of responsibility for the failure of technology in our schools. Too much lecture, too much doing what I have always done. Now I know I’m not talking about everyone in every situation, and we have some simply outstanding teachers in this country, and some great school districts where emerging technologies are embraced, supported and used effectively. But how many teachers can even design an effective presentation in PowerPoint? How many take advantage of the professional development opportunities available to them? How many internalize technology tools as significant and mission-critical tools required to teach today’s kids. Sadly, the news is not good. Blogs? Digital Textbooks? Cell phones and iPods? Are you kidding me?