Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is technology really that scary?

I've been back in school now for almost a month and I continue to turn to technology to make my own work easier and to find ways of sharing with my 100+ colleagues. So far this year, I've used Wordpress to build a site dedicated to the Northern Lights Jr. Games that my school was chosen to host in March 2010. I've been contributing interesting items to a school Ning site that I help administer, I've been posting items including my schedule to a wiki site I built last year, and I've been sending weekly memos by e-mail to the staff. I even had a Technology Thursday session with staff to visit the idea of classroom blogs like Mrs. Cassidy's Classroom Blog.

And I've seen some progress, baby steps I guess. I have a teacher who has embraced technology and is busy incorporating our Smart Board into his teaching; this is taking off as other teachers now want a board in their room. I also have staff who have started blogs and are beginning to share; for example, there is a new teacher blogging about her experiences and an intern invited me into her digital world a couple of nights ago. Nevertheless, I am feeling somewhat disappointed; it seems like some are choosing to ignore the powerful medium that the internet offers preferring to do things the way they've always done them. Is the technology really that scary?

How many of us reluctantly gave in to the cell phone craze and now cannot live without them? What is so different about picking up a new computer application and embracing it as a new way of doing business.

Today, a teacher shared with me that people see communication as a problem within the school and feel that we need to stick to one way of sharing information. I am not so sure. I believe we need to put the information that needs to be shared in multiple places in hopes that one actually works for each individual. I know I've tried the paper memo thing in the past and failed to communicate a message, I've called meetings and failed to get everyone I needed in place, I've published newsletters that not everyone read, and I've even tried the old intercom thing but was not listened to. All methods have a place, and all in way, rely on technology in one way or another (some newer than others). I really see today's technology as offering many novel solutions; we can now seek information when we want it not just when someone is presenting it. However, we are at the mercy of the individual receivers of information and their interest in learning something new. Unfortunately, some teachers are resisting learning something new; some are modelling what frustrates them about their students (they are reluctant learners). Ironic!!!

There is hope though; the cell phone thing was not embraced enthusiastically at first by all, but when people saw a use for them, they became widely accepted. I even know retiring teachers who have learned to text; if a teacher on the way out of the business can learn new techological skills then surely there is hope for the teacher who thinks he/she does not have time to learn "another" thing! I look forward to the day when we do not have to work to peruade staff about the powerful network tools that exist; I look forward to the day when people accept that technology provides us with tools that make doing business easier!


Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I felt a little annoyed this week when a paper copy of information you had sent via email turned up in my mailbox at school. While I realize that someone thought that they were being helpful, I felt slightly annoyed, as if I wasn't trusted to read my email. Now, had I been out of town, where I don't have full internet access, I might have missed the info until I go home, but I also would have missed the info in my mailbox until my return. I think that a good compromise might be to have a central location in each building where one paper copy of such info. is posted. That said, I know that I still need to learn a lot more about modern technology, my texting is terrible and if I learned more about how to utilize my blackberry more fully I could probably receive all the memos anywhere with cell coverage. It is interesting that teachers often don't practice what they preach with regard to learning.

Sarah said...

Yes, some teachers may be reluctant to step into this new technologically advanced world; however, some may just be scared. It is a scary thing to try something new when for years you've been using a tried and trusted model. I remember my mom's reaction when her school made the move from paper hand written report cards to digitally produced. She was frustrated and a little angry with the system. It took a while for her to come around but as she grew more comfortable with the software and her skills, she did. Have faith and keep holding those sessions, you may just see the numbers of attendants increase.

For me, one of the selling points of coming to teach at our school was the technology. I was told that there would be more available to me then there is. For a teacher who wants to incorporate technology into her teaching, it is frustrating not to have all those tools at my fingertips. In order to get excited about technology we need the technological tools and resources to use, not only in the computer lab but in each and every classroom.