I was reading this post by Stacy Anderson on the implications of social media as a teaching tool. This article really got me thinking. I’ve seem some really amazing teaching that has succesfully integrated social media and all of those tools that students are typically using. On the other hand, I’ve been focusing on finishing my project for my master’s class around the theme of technology integration and seemingly, all of the articles that I’ve found (or the majority, anyway) really do negate the advantages of edtech.
The reasons are numerous; and in reality, many of them are obstacles that I myself have struggled to overcome as I have tried to integrate technology into the classroom.
1. Teachers are learners too. New teacher may in fact be more hesitant to try technology since they tend to model their own teaching practice around the teachers that they learned from as students. Often, this does not include technology!
2. Concerns around digital safety and cyberbulling
3. Lack of resources in the school and community to fully engage in a BYOD or technology integrated program
4. Lack of network support (wifi, bandwith, etc). Lack of new technology.
5. Lack of time for teachers to try new things.
6. The biggest piece? A lack of PD to support teachers as they learn how to strengthen their own teaching practice while integrating technology.
My response is, to all of these, yes. Absolutely. Technology can be so frustrating when you can’t get the laptop carts, or you can’t get students logged on, or the internet is down. And for me, there was a huge learning curve as I first learned how to use the technology piece and secondly began to implement it into my teaching practice in a way that was meaningful and went beyond simply replacing a pen and a paper with a tool.
My response to the cyberbulling and digital safety issue? Of course! Yes. These are huge concerns and really validate for me why it is SO important to have these conversations with kids rather than denying students access to their devices during school time. Denial of issues around cyberbulling and not discussing what it means to be a good digital citizenship does little, in my opinion, to protect our students and to prepare them for the reality of a world in which they are bombarded by technology from all sides.
Lack of time? Yes. But there is always a lack of time. And it is the same with the PD. If it is important, we make the time to do this. We develop our own PLN and our own network of support through blogs, twitter, pinterest, etc. and learn how to integrate technology in a meaningul way. As with any teaching practice, much of what we do to strengthen our teaching skill occurs beyond the hours of the school day. Is it fair? Maybe not. But if we find value in what we do, it becomes easier to find the time.
I’m not completely sure that I agree with the notion that new teachers model their teaching practice from what they observed as students. I believe that in part, this is true. However, I have found that many new teachers are open minded in considering integrating technology into practice. They may not know how to do it. But I believe that new teachers tend to be a bit more adventurous, maybe take more risk. I am speaking generally, of course, but many new teachers that I’ve worked with this year, especially at the high school level, seem eager to take on the challenge of integrating technology into a traditional teaching system.
For me; the pros far outweigh the cons. I find my students to be more motivated. I enjoy teaching them about their role as digital citizens. I enjoy the planning and organizing that comes along with planning new lessons around technology (ok, I might be in the minority here) but I love knowing that beyond the content, I am teaching my students valuable life skills as they go out into the world. So despite all of the issues around educational technology, the benefits far outweight the negatives.