Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Response to "teacher fear or teacher laziness"

I linked to Connie Cossar's blog post by way of following Dr. Alec Couros' Twitter links to it and course presentations on Ustream. While I, like Connie, observe few local adopters of the technology , I'm not convinced that neither fear nor laziness could account for so few adopters. You have to assume that the number of teachers she is working with probably represents a poor sample of the population. Yet the number of teachers integrating tech on the order to which she alludes, would lead me to the conclusion that almost all are afraid or lazy. For example, we have 160 teachers at our school. Most are using email, Google searches, and learning Powerpoint. Of that 160 I am the only teacher that has posted a podcast, or utilizes blogs and wikis with students. ( I have taken on a technology learning group of 5 teachers so my hope is that will change). By my calculation then, better than 99% of the teachers at my school are afraid of technology or are lazy based on your criteria. I know this is not true. (Though yes, some are apprehensive and/or lazy!)

I agree, though, that most are "teaching" in their comfort zones. They have established their curriculum and their pedagogy in order to meet the needs (success) of most of their students. This, however, leads to a curriculum which is very inflexible to meeting the needs of all students. The technology they utilize is probably restricted to the technology that was available at the time they developed their teaching style, which, will probably shortchange students preparation for a technocentric future.

After teaching for twenty years I too, as in Mr Shareski's comment, am a bit more sympathetic to those teachers. When the administration tells teachers they are to developed 10 minute focus lessons for each period and teach a 25 minute focus lesson at the middle time block each day in order to prep for the state assessment (as well as teach their prescribed curriculum) well, lets face it, there are only 8 hrs in the school day. Also, in Florida a percentage of a teachers salary is dependent upon student performance on the state assessment. You can see where the state places the incentives.

So, one interpretation is this:
1. Teachers learn early on to prioritize. With the time available; What do I need to do to meet the demands of the administration? What do I need to do to meet the demands of my students? What do I need to do to meet the demands of my professional development?
2. The teachers/educators using technology are the ones that "get it". (But no one "gets it all". A total perspective is impossible. see Trin Tragula and TPV) This is that scattered but entrenched few that always look for a way to reach a few more students. They probably would have been the ones to embrace the "Open Classroom" and "Team Teaching" in the 1960's and 70's had they been teaching then.
3. Most adoptions/integrations are teacher initiatives and as anyone who has been teaching for awhile will tell you, teacher/classroom initiatives are rarely supported. So, unless you are in one of those rare districts where an administrator or IT director is the one who "gets it", widespread adoption of technology will more than likely be a prepackaged CBI.

The difference between now and 40 years ago, is the ability to network. Teachers will no longer have to work in total isolation. Innovation and support won't have to come from a University lab School. Most integration for the time being will be individual teachers, in networks, figuring out the what, the how and the why.


.mrsdurff said...

I use technology because i am lazy, not avoid it because i am lazy. Technology always me to get so much done in a fraction of the time. Maybe we shouldn't tell anyone that!

ustream said...

First let me welcome you to Ustream, and also say we are thrilled that the educational community has accepted Ustream for the remarkable education tool that it was originally designed to be. Since my wife and daughter are in education, I can say I have a small bit of insight into this discussion. I think perhaps for most laziness is too harsh a term. Intimidation is perhaps more descriptive for the majority that I have met. I mean most have struggled and have learned how to use emial, and Word, etc.. and there just isnt much room for anymore.. But that is the beauty and one of the reasons for Ustream. Make it simple so anyone can use it, allow people across the continents to share, and find good content. Check out Ustream's and the History channel's presentation on George Washington.
If anyone has questions about ustream and how to stream your event, feel free to contact us at support@ustream.tv, ustreamtech@yahoo.com or stop by the Ustream Users Community Forum http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ustream-users-community-forum, for tips and techniques!

Jeff said...

@mrsdurff You're not lazy, you're smart! I don't mind investing the time to learn a technology. Once my learning curve has peaked though and the technology turns out to be a blackhole on my time and energy it will probably fall by the wayside.
@ustream Yes,I too think (hope) lazy was a quick, cast-off term that was easy to use on the presumption that we would interpret it as the absence of an immediate rush to action on the part of most teachers. A big thanks to you and the folks at Ustream! (And thanks for the support links)

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki A. Davis said...

Hey, Jeff. I'm trying to get up with you to see if you want to be on a webcast about the use of Web 2 in your classroom. Just e-mail the attached address or I sent my e-mail over direct message in twitter.

Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher

Connie Cossar said...

I was speaking about a very small group of teachers that I am working with, so I did not intend it to be generalized to ALL teachers, but was frustrated that they do not feel that technology is worthy of spending time on (yet they are voicing such an opinion in a grad class about technology?!) and are very negative about its use in the classroom. Unfortunately, they see it as an add-on, where I think it should be an integrated part of a course which can enrich the learning experience.
In saying that, I do think that teachers need opportunities to see the benefits of technology and how it is being used and can be used. Also, the curriculum will have to accommodate these new ways of presenting and engaging students.
Obviously, I am very "Pro" technology in the classroom and just want to encourage others to try it out because there are so many wonderful tools now available (and many for free on the web) to engage students.