Saturday, June 5, 2010

Common Misconception #3 - Experienced Teachers and Technology

In continuing with my blog series on Common Misconceptions about Integrating Technology in Education, I bring you the third installment:

Experienced Teachers Have Little/No Desire to Learn How to Integrate Technology in the Classroom

We all have one (if not more than one) in our schools.  The teacher that refuses, or has little/no desire to learn how to use technology in the classroom.  They have the largest number of excuses of any teacher.  The problem is, most of these teachers are generally given little effort by most integration specialist because there are more eager teachers in the building who want to learn how to utilize technology (I myself can be guilty of that at times).  So who really is at fault?

One thing I have realized since joining the Blogging and Twitter Universe is that over 75% of the people who are blogging and using Twitter in education are older than I am by 10 years or more.  They are the teachers that are using technology, been provided guidance, and took INITIATIVE to learn new things.  They are teachers who have dedicated themselves to learning new processes and ideas in order to meet with the change in the times.  They lose the fear of the unknown or being "that" teacher in their building.

One thing that I have learned about integrating technology with experienced teachers is you have to find ONE thing that they really see valuable.  In my school it was as simple as using a FLIP camera, or using a Document Camera to show student work.  For others is was a Web 2.0 software that caught their attention and now they use at least once a week.  I had a teacher use PicLits with her students and absolutely loved the collaboration between her students and complete strangers who were reading the students poems.

Experienced teachers, or teachers who fear technology CANNOT be thrown a bunch of new technology and then be expected to use them.  They get overwhelmed.  Many experienced teachers already have their lessons planned out from day one to final exams.  Take those lessons and show them ONE tool that they can use with their students to enhance the learning with their students.  Collaborate with that teacher while they are working on that lesson.  Always provide time for follow up and discussion with the teacher.

Experienced teachers want to use technology just as much as other teachers.  It is up to Integration Specialist, Tech-Savvy Teachers, and Administrators to provide opportunities for experienced teachers to learn about and how to use new technology.  And like most things, it requires enforcement from the principal that teachers and students use technology in their lessons on a daily/weekly basis.

Technology in itself is not what is keeping experienced teachers from integrating technology in the classroom.  It is the process of change, the idea of the unknown, the lack of knowledge, the fear of making mistakes in front of students; that keeps most experienced teachers from utilizing the technology available to them.

I have never seen an experienced teacher who was not excited about receiving technology equipment, or who did not get excited about realizing a way to use a tool in the classroom.  But that excitement is completely overtaken by fear once the tech-savvy person leaves the room and they are left to fend for themselves.

On the other hand, I have always thought that once you get that experienced teacher, the one no one expects would like technology, to share how it has changed their classroom, other teachers will buy in as well.  It is hard for experienced, less-tech savvy teachers to hear about technology from someone who lives it, knows it, and loves it.  When fearful teachers hear it from a peer who is not viewed in the building as a tech integrator, those fearful teachers become more open to the idea of integrating technology in the classroom.

Remember to limit the technology to those that are fearful.  Allow for them to gradually become more comfortable.  Because the thing about educational technology is that once you start to learn how to use one or two tools, everything else becomes much easier to figure out.

Do you have fearful teachers in your building?  What are you doing to bring out that hidden desire for technology in them?  What experience and knowledge can you bring to combat this common misconception?

Are you an experienced teacher who got over a fear of technology integration?  What was your reason?  PLEASE Comment!