I have been thinking about comments Chris Betcher said a few weeks ago about how do we get teachers to adopt 21C tools. I’ve also been spending far too much money in three general computing rooms of late fixing petty damage. A trend that is increasing from an almost zero level a few years ago. As ICT teachers use these rooms, it is frustrating that the room they need to do their job is often not 100% due to damage to mice, keyboards etc.,
I’m thinking that in the Ed Tech rush to engage staff in the potential of Web2.0, that we have actually made it all to easy to get out of their depth. I see lessons that involve summarising the text book into power point, or Googling into a Publisher leaflet daily.
This leads to students being bored – the task is hardly new, but repetitive across multiple subjects.
Showing a video in a computer room is equally passive – and lets face it most of the good bits are now on YouTube, so there really is no valid reason for spending 2 lessons showing a video these days.
These activities can often be completed by students in a short time, so they pad out their time, often resorting to petty damange to while away their time. Classroom management is lacking – students appear to be busy, but are not challenged. To them, its probably less boring than being in the text book classroom. Yet it costs the school time and money to support this poor use of ICTs and actually prevents Ed Tech from developing further.
But herein lies the problem. We want them to use it, so access is made easy. PD is offered, but suffers from the power distribution law syndrome where a few, do most, most of the time. Teachers know that they can set some task – say a video – but don’t need to ‘learn’ to use it personally – they don’t go through the student experience – so a guessing at the value of the activity at best. They assume that the ‘digital natives’ will just get on with it – else the IT people or computing staff will be the ‘go to’ people for the students. We accept this, and of course help the kids as we figure at least the kids are using technology.
But it is not acceptable. Teachers should take the time to learn how to do the task – if they don’t then how then how do they know that it is even valid or do-able.
We allow the same excuses; I don’t have the time, I don’t have the PD; I don’t have the access etc.,
Office is not a 21C skill, its largely a solo, passive use of ICT. At best its a low end ‘mastery skill’ these days. Its been around for over a decade, and teachers have been using it in exactly the same way. How often have you seen a teacher showing kids in a Social Studies Power Point task – how to hyperlink or use navigation icons even?
Sure it has syllabus elements – but does not teach critical thinking, collaboration etc., and does not develop independant writers or reflective learners that we are all so passionate to see.
We tollerate it for the simple reason that we hope that students will at least have access to technology. When in fact it is wasting valuable time.
Use of these technologies is not tied to any level of competency. It almost like we allow it as an appology for the interruption to traditional chalk and talk teaching methods. But a decade on, teachers still cite Office as a challenge – so we never get to the ‘shift’ conversation. Teachers head it iff way before that.
We (IT) spend time and resources servicing outmoded technology, we repair damage from students who are bored, we ignore the fact that 90% of all ICT experiences are based around the same activity and so commit time and resources to facilitate minor, low level learning experiences.
An ICT teacher cannot go to a science lab and just start using equipment. We can’t go to the wood-tech room and start using tools, nor can we go to the food tech room and make Pizza, as we’ve decided to make a leaflet about it. We don’t do it, because we would be told in no uncertain terms that we don’t know what we are doing, and that these resources are NOT for ICT people. But Ed Tech is an open door to anyone – despite their level of competency or ability to manage a digital classroom.
To get to Chris’ question – I think that use of computer services has to be explicity tied to PD, to explicit ‘standards’ (perhaps NETs), and in explicit time frames. Prior to allowing them to use the technology.
If you want to use the room, then use it in a way which will engage students and not cause problems to ICT staff or replicate ICT learning in other classrooms. Instead of using IT to fix problems, use it to generate opportunities – for students – and professional development for staff.
Perhaps we might upset people in suggesting this, but I’d hope that teachers are professional enough to see that offering them opportunities to go beyond their current point of reference (the past) is not a critisism.
The staffroom is one of the most delicate ecosystems I’ve ever been in. Unlike advertising, where you’re either adding value, or being escorted to the lobby.
It seems logical to me that if I was a non-experienced (in ICT) teacher – or one with limited use of technology – in English, I’d ask for help, just as I would need help in setting up and running a science experiment.
Non-ICT staff seem to have no problem in offering criticism of the system, the room, the speed, the screen etc., if the system is not working as they want it. They assume that it is not their problem, and we accept that. Yet they are not too interested if the conversation is reversed.
I see some amazing teachers doing amazing things, and I also see shocking uses of ICT. Perhaps limiting access to ICT services, based on competency – will serve to improve the teaching and learning, and in turn will start to see flow on changes in the curriculum.
I think maybe that our desire to see change, clouds the reality that it will not happen unless access is tied to profficiency – just as it is in every other KLA who has specialist tools.
I am sure it won’t go down well, but if there is a mentor/support program in place to provide solutions – then perhaps we can start to ‘turn the supertanker’ as Chris put it. Right now, those in the wheel house are off course, and Ed Tech is on the bow yelling ‘Iceburg’ into the wind.