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?



4 thoughts on “Why We All Need to “Do Technology”

  1. Sue, I absolutely LOVE this post of yours, and agree with you 100% as well. I wonder if the best way to get more educators and leaders to embed technology into their practice is to hear the “voices” of these people that have struggled with learning how to do so and see the value in it now. I’m thinking back to a conference I attended (and I can’t remember if it was RCAC or ECOO), and the keynote speaker (the name of whom escapes me now too) spoke about how the best PD that we receive is when we get support from those people that are just a little bit further along than us. Now I know that I’m not quoting this exactly, but the idea being that when we always hear from those people that are so advanced, we feel as though we can never get to that level, and then we don’t move forwards at all. Maybe we move quicker if those that are just getting started help out those that haven’t started yet. Just a thought …

    I’m curious to hear what others have to say!

  2. Well said. It drives me crazy that being able to say “I’m not good with technology” is acceptable. Your post reminds me of something I wrote a while ago:

    I think one of the keys is having leaders willing to struggle, and able to recognizing the importance of learning and working in this way. The reason it’s working in the Leadership and Learning department is because you and your colleagues are not opting out. Thanks for modelling that.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jared. Modelling the struggle of learning, whatever it might be, is important. I think not only leaders, but teachers also need to model that for students.

  3. I’m a tech that works for a charter school management company. I deal with educators directly, and let me tell you I hear the “I’m not tech savvy” comment all the time. At my previous jobs, if I was to hear this, I would have laughed it off, but because I now work with educators & students I’ve gained a much higher appreciation for educating people.Now when I hear the comments “I’m a tech twit” (never heard that one but I like how it sounds) I reply with “But you don’t have to be” or “Let’s change that.”

    I like to guide people through the remedy process and explain why something isn’t working and why this fixes it. And when it’s something I can’t guide them through due to security level or time, I explain what I did generally via email (But not the long wordy annoying kind).

    Sometime (about once every quarter) the tech team will do a PD. They are usually based around programs we see teachers heavily use, but we sometimes might do a PD on just basic troubleshooting skills or a brand new tech piece. I have created a prize for people who fix their own issues. I call them honorary Tech badges. Its kind of over the top but its a memory trigger and it makes you feel good and when people feel good about the idea of technology they are much more willing to learn it.

    To all the techies reading this if there was anything i wanted you to know its that “end users” are people too. To the educators remember at least this: You can’t spell “TEACH” without “TECH”.

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