After experiences and conversations of late I felt this needed to be restated:
The key with technology use in education is that IT NOT be about teaching technology. That is one of the big hurdles people have to get over. I believe that when you feel inadequate about using tech (or even just not comfortable with it), hearing someone say that it is not about teaching tech as a subject, but teaching tech as a tool doesnâ€™t mean a lot. The same goes for project-based, problem based learning â€“ I perk right up to listen when someone mentions it â€“ but probably 80% of the time when they describe a project they did with their class it really isnâ€™t a project but more akin to a report or simple research project where they used the computers in the lab to do a small part of the research or print out some pictures â€“ which at least is a start and I always encourage it enthusiastically â€“ but it is not a project that is really anything different than you could do with a lot of old National Geographics as your fodder for photos and a pair of scissors (were you taught as a child that National Geographics were sacred and not to be cut up like I was? Well â€¦ then you can use a scanner instead of scissors).
In addition, when teachers don’t understand that tech’s power as a tool is what is importatnt for our students, they see tech as an add-on curriculum and their attitude is understandably negative.
Another big hurdle to clear is the notion that technology is an option or that, â€œThe kids will be fine, I donâ€™t get all this tech stuff, but the kids do.â€ Wrong â€“ there is plenty that students need to learn about tech even if for some it is more about effective, appropriate and ethical use of a powerful tool. And just because they are â€œconnectedâ€ 24/7 and can set the features on any cell phone doesnâ€™t mean they know how to use tech effectively as a learning/sharing knowledge tool. A pre-schooler can use a pencil to have fun scribbling and drawing and maybe even the early stages of writing letters and words, but they arenâ€™t prepared to use it as a learning/sharing knowledge tool beyond the very basic. AND not all kids have access to many tools outside of cell phones, which seem to be the one piece of hardware that transcends socioeconomic groups.
Wes Fryer sums it up nicely:
“We are talking about pioneers of digital teaching using blended learning methodologies from a growing menu of toolsâ€“ selecting those which are appropriate to the content, audience, and task at hand. A tall order to be sure, but one we must collaboratively strive to fill for our studentsâ€“ who are in the final analysis our customers, rather than the â€œproductsâ€ of our educational institutions.”