Simple: It is not.

I read in the Australian Age today about the government’s support of improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Don’t you love it when governments make comments that none of us have thought of?

The Age commented “The major challenge in improving teaching lies not so much in identifying and describing quality teaching, but in developing structures and approaches that ensure widespread use of successful practices: to make best practice, common practice,” says the report, written for the BCA by senior researchers at ACER. The Rudd Government has signalled its intention to take an unprecedented role in influencing teaching methods.”

Someone (not at my school) commented today “Some teachers are not as up on computers as you”.

Well fair enough, but lets actually look at how complex it is to be ‘up on computers’ in the context of current ‘skills’ required in our profession.

Access to technology

Schools provide teachers with at least one computer that they can use to access the student’s work. Someone else looks after, services and maintains them, so the cost of ‘using’ a computer is virtually zero.

Using technology

Well, most teachers make power points (some times), but they do create word documents, they have to read emails (school communication policy), and use spreadsheets and SM marks to perform their job. These skills have been forced on them over a decade.

I am very aware that any project that requires the ‘non technical’ teacher to: comment; offer advice and support learning – must be very simple – typing in a box and pressing submit is as simple as it gets in my opinion, yet there this unexplained reticence to be seen working with students online.

Teachers can usually check their bank info, read the sports, buy on ebay, real when it suits them, and they spend much of their ICT time class time with kids, that they surely have noticed ‘Google’ – and if not, why are they in the room. Professional development has ensured that they can at least turn it on, navigate to a page and read/write an email. They can ask others to help them if they can’t surely.

21st Century Learning with technology

This nasty invasive world where we all own a printing press or that nasty social networking stuff that’s invading our privacy (blah) … where the skill overhead is actualy LESS than writing an email.

To get them ‘on the internet’ usually requires someone else to set it up for them. That’s cool, happy to if it improves student learning. Most staff I’ve been working with soon learn to fly. But some refuse to even acknowledge that these spaces are school learning spaces.

I am talking about participation

After someone else has done the set up, planning and content development.

Not driving the bus, just riding on it. Very basic SKILLS … but very powerful learning.

  1. Log into a URL (well they can do that to get email).
  2. Navigate to the page (not hard, the content is on the FIRST page).
  3. Read the student work (in the context of the subject you are teaching).
  4. Evaluate the work
  5. Give the student feedback (typing and pressing submit).

If your project is online, your kids are online. You need to be online to support them. If they are online, then you’re not checking books or papers for that part of the learning – so why avoid all responsibility?

It may mean spending 5 minutes writing a comment to a kid who asked for it. But I maintain that this is part of their job – if your school, curriculum and department has identified it as part of the student assessment. It is your job to be there for your students. There are students that struggle in a classroom pedagogy, but thrive in an online community – why ignore their learning preferences.

Your absence has been noted! – by your students.

What I think interesting is that when teachers don’t participate with their students online, that fact stays online – their absence is noted, as the publishing method of blogging and commenting is time.

Over a period of time, a digital footprint is left – or rather not left.



3 thoughts on “Simple: It is not.

  1. Dean,

    I always love reading your posts – so inspiring.

    I get so fed up with the same old arguments coming out – and what is worse, is listening to kids spout the same old rhetoric that has been drummed in to them.

    I think that a lot of teachers think that the next wave of ‘young’ teachers will pick up the ball – but it is not happening.

    Anyway, you already know all this! Thanks for another great post – keep it up.


  2. I wonder whether it is a fairly “old-style” perception of computers and technology as a set of separate specialist skills rather than something that can easily support existing expertise. There is a view that IT skills can be held in conjunction with other skills (like social skills).

    This has been reinforced by an IT industry that tends to present its knowledge as complex and requiring a special understanding.

  3. It comes down to believing in the students and backing up your promises. I wonder how it would work if a edtech promised to come and assist them on a personal technology matter then pulled out? I think there would be a lot more moaning than a blog post.

    I dont think it has much to do with IT because it has to do with realy giving a damn about making a difference. If you really gave a damn you would do it. If you were really passionate about your job then you would do what you say you would do because you know it would make a difference

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