Technology Revolution

I’m reading Here Comes Everyone by Clay Shirky, a book that was recommended by someone in my PLN. I’m enjoying the book, it gives some good insight into societal changes brought on by advanced technology tools. It has been good for me to step out of the ‘school society’ and look at technology use from a world society view, looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly. (so to speak) Of course I can’t help but relate some of the ideas back to education and my goal to get educators to explore using technology as the tools to highly motivate and increase learning in their classrooms.

The other night I ran across this quote:

Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies-it happens when society adopts new behaviors.

This excerpt was referring to social tools and how they, in themselves, don’t create collective action, but merely remove the obstacles to it. When I read it I also couldn’t help but think about how it also relates to classroom technology integration.

The technology integration revolution in schools won’t happen simply because the school purchases, installs, and ‘adopts’ the new technologies.  It will only happen when the educators identify the purpose and worth of the technology and then weaves its use into the classroom learning.  If the teacher is already thinking about student learning, and has a sound educational pedagogy that includes active, student-centered, authentic project based components in it then the behavior simply includes thinking how these tools will play a part in the learning. These teachers easily see how podcasting, digital storytelling, blogging, and other technologies can be embedded into classroom learning as a way to do the same thing they were doing before- motivating students to learn and grow.

If the teacher is still in a ‘lecture’, ‘sage on the stage’ mode then the behaviors are deeper and broader. These teachers need to see the value of these other teaching techniques before they can truly integrate technology. I have seen this scenario: You put an Interactive White Board into their classroom and it becomes the new chalkboard. If you try to ‘convert’ these teachers by showing them ‘all that an IWB can do’ they will simply learn all that it can do and still use it the way they believe it was intended: as a teacher-centered toy to show PowerPoints (with audio clapping on occasion), videos, and to display notes for copying. These teachers post their lecture presentations on the Internet and certainly know all the great new video sites and resources for their content, but their teaching doesn’t change when the IWB is installed in their classroom.  The IWB simply makes it easier for them to be more entertaining. These teachers will also say they are tech savy and use technology everyday.  Unfortunately, sometimes their administrators love them as well because they ‘always have the IWB on and are using it’. (Certainly another issue that needs its own post: what is true technology integration and how can we educate administrators as to what to look for and how to further encourage technology integration growth with their staff.)

The angle we need to take is to show them the power of student-centered, active, project-based learning. Maybe a start might be for them to use some of the interactive activities in the IWBs software toolkit to have students coming up to the board and manipulating content to solve problems. Then move into taking their knowledge and creating something like a podcast, digital story, wiki page or blog post, or collaborating with students from around the globe.

So, as technology integrators, trainers, and supporters of technology integration we need to focus first on the purpose and good sound educational pedagogy, then on the tool, or what technology would work best to achieve the results we are looking for.  We certainly also have to look at where teachers are, on what stage of implementation are they at, and meet them there, then move them forward.(See my post 2010 Wishes – and stages of technology integration) This will be my task this coming school year… are you with me?

4 thoughts on “Technology Revolution

  1. Very interesting post. It is necessary “the educators identify the purpose and worth of the technology”, but also are willing to face the pain/challenge of change. My shining star this year changed grade levels and necessarily curriculum. It provided the motivation to revamp her classroom use of technology.

  2. I’m beginning to think that perhaps students can help teachers see the benefits of student centered learning. Maybe the kids will be agents of change.

    I’ve found that students are starting to ask their teachers if their assignments could be more student centered and if they could use the new technology to collaborate . They love class blogs, applications like Animoto, Voki. Toondoo to mention just a few.

    Perhaps teachers will not be as resistant is the encouragement comes from the grass roots and not from the top down. Just a thought.

    1. Yes, I agree teachers also have to be willing to face the change- definitely- and it is easier when it comes from necessity like your teacher who changed content/grade level.
      I love your idea of grassroots change Elona, you are right it does have to come from the students as well. As more teachers offer student choice and more student centered learning hopefully they (students) will see how they learn best and encourage teachers to change. I also agree that this change can’t just come from top down- hopefully it will be fueled by students- and with fellow teachers also showing the possibilities, that is when change can happen.
      Thanks both of you for the comments!

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