The Reflection Pool

Why We All Need to “Do Technology”

Photo Credit: tizzie via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: tizzie via Compfight cc

I have a confession to make. I am a bit disheartened when I hear educators and leaders say they aren’t good with technology. You know the conversation, it goes something like this:

Me: “I’ll share that document with you via Google Drive.”

My friend: “Oh, I don’t know how to do that. Just print me a copy. Or email it to me.”

Or how about this?

Me: “Let’s do xxx with some technology embedded in the agenda so people can learn how to do it. We can experiment and see how it works.”

My friend: “I can’t do that. I’m a techno twit! (Laughs heartily)

Why is it still OK for some educators and leaders to act as if technology is some weird, new-fangled thing that they just can’t possibly learn? It reminds me of what has been happening around Math lately.

We’ve become aware that attitudes and anxiety about Math are infectious and are not helping our students. Annie Murphy Paul wrote a blog post about why so many of us hate Math. Her thoughts and especially the comments they generated are great reading. We know that when an educator says, “I’m not good at Math,” a classroom of kids hears and Math goes down in their estimation. We are working to overcome that Math phobia for educators and to watch our use of language around students when it comes to Math. We want to effect a change in Math instruction.

I don’t see using technology as any different. We need to learn so we can help students navigate the tools. We need to model how to learn. Sure, it’s hard to learn new things. I’m not talking about how to make a new delicious dish or how to teach fractions better. I’m talking about a change in thinking and behaviour.  It’s one of the hardest things for human beings to do. And no matter how much we claim we are life long learners, true learning is difficult. It’s so hard that we often shy away from it. Steven Katz argues this very persuasively in his book Intentional Interruption.

The good news it is possible. If we face our fears and just dig in and accept feeling a bit stupid, we can learn new things. This fall we have been embedding technology in our system curriculum team sessions. For some educators, this was the first time they had been exposed to some of our district provisioned tools (e.g., Google Apps, the Commons). It was hard work! But the team has persevered.  One instructional coach made a profound comment:

“This has been really hard for me, but I’m so glad I’ve had this opportunity to really struggle to learn something. It has reminded me what our students and teachers go through when they have to learn something new.”

What can you do to help educators and leaders embed technology tools in their practice?