Thursday, June 17, 2010

Common Misconception #8 - Student's Know More About the Technology Than I Do

My Students Know More About the Technology Than I Do.

Most kids in this generation do know more about technology in general, but the idea that they know more about a technology resource you are trying to integrate is completely false.  Kids in this generation are capable of learning how to use a resource easier then most teachers, but they DON'T KNOW how to use the resource as it relates to the content you are trying to teach them.  That is where YOU come along to assist in the use of the resource.

Most teachers will tell you that they fear the idea of a student knowing more about technology.  If anything, that fear should make teachers want to learn more about technology so that they can be a step ahead of the students.  I personally relish the idea that a student might have more knowledge on how to use technology.  Why?  1.) Because they will be able to help me better understand it and 2.) I have someone in the classroom that can help me assist other students.  It is like free help.  How many teachers turn down a peer tutor in a classroom?  Not many, because that peer tutor is a very valuable resource in a classroom.  Think of the student that knows more about the technology as a peer tutor.

It is a misconception to believe that students know everything or more about technology.  They don't.  They might know how to use their cell phones in ways we don't.  They might know how to use the Internet and other software more then we do, but they don't.  It SEEMS like students know more because THEY SPEND TIME USING TECHNOLOGY WITHOUT FEAR.  If teachers want to know more about technology they must start using it more within their daily lives, not just between the hours of 8-3 or 3-10 for those of us that use it at home, but not at school.

What is true is that even though students might know how to use it, the majority of students do not know how to use the technology to make a quality product.  They don't know how to manage their time in order to create a quality product using technology.  They don't know correct ways to cite sources when creating a product using technology.  They don't know how to organize information on a web page or Power Point. 

Why is all this true?  Because the majority of teachers THINK students know how to use this technology and they don't.  I remember the first Power Point project I had my students do.  They were AWFUL.  Why?  Because I assumed they knew how to create a Power Point presentation.  I realized that my first lesson should have been how to use Power Point.  The lack of knowledge about how to use Power Point by my students negatively impacted the effectiveness of relaying the content within the presentation.

Assuming students know how to use technology WITH the content is a huge misconception. We must teach students how to use the technology first, then teach them how to integrate the technology with the content. From there, it is my opinion that students will have the best opportunity to understand the content because they are using the content for a purpose greater than a presentation in the classroom.

If there is one thing you can take away from this post it is this: For this generation and future generations of students, it is/will be critical for teachers to have an understanding of how to integrate technology in order to better teach CONTENT to students.  Students don't know how to integrate technology with the content being taught and must be taught both the technology and the content for successful retention of information.
Remember, students might know about technology, but students don't know about EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! Students don't automatically know how to use these tools but they will pick them up quickly. I, too, relish the idea of my students teaching me about a technology tool in a lesson. It creates a partnership in learning where each party is adding to the conversation and learning opportunity.

  2. Excellent point! It is such an important distinction between knowing how to use technology hardware and how to use hardware with content. It is staggering how many time I visit classrooms where teachers have only had PD on how to operate hardware or navigate software. But they have never been taught how to use that software to design lessons or how to integrate content into classroom instruction using technology.

  3. This year I introduced various students to wikis (only a very few even knew what the word meant), blogging, collaborating on Google Docs, recording podcasts, uploading files and social bookmarking. Some students adapted well, but some were resistant to learning new skills beyond their familiar realm of Facebook, texting and yes, PowerPoint. No, students do not always know more!

  4. Absolutely spot on. Just used Google Docs for some collaborative essay writing with some 17 year olds and while some hit the ground running, some did not even know where the ground was. A learning curve for me as well as my students.

  5. I've had this misconception before introducing technology in my English classes and was surprised when I found out most of my students found it hard to adapt to the use of wikis and blogs. Some of them still resist to the idea of becoming more independent learners.

  6. I LOVE this post! I teach computer basics to students and adults are always saying to me: "That must be the easiest job in the world. These kids know so much." I usually laugh out loud when they say that. I then explain that kids know how to text, check their e-mail (a dying skill), play games, download music and videos, and use Facebook, MySpace,, but to actually use technology (i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, wikis, blogs, basic understanding of hardware, software, etc.), they are clueless.

    I agree that most of the kids now can easily learn these imperative skills, but some still have a hard time. It is a blast to be the one that can introduce these technologies and understandings to kids. They can do so much when taught.

    I love that you said that "we must teach students how to use the technology first, then teach them how to integrate the technology with the content." I absolutely, whole-heartedly, 100% agree with you. I see my job is introducing these skills to kids and starting them thinking on how they could use it with other classes. This is what makes my job so much fun.