Scott McLeod‘s post from a year ago, titled Struggling with educators’ lack of technology fluency came back to life for me when a new comment was left today (the beauty of comment subscription/notification). In it, he laments the lack of technology literacy often found in educators, even at the most basic of levels.
Today, Patricia commented:
As a young teacher, I can feel your frustration.
And I think I have an answer to, “Why are so many teachers technologically inept?”
Three words: lack. of. training.
I just graduated from teacher’s college. Was I trained to use a SMARTboard? No. Was I introduced to kidblogs? No. Was I shown how to use ipads in the classroom? Again, no.
I learned all these things on my own, like many of the earlier commenters. I went to my practicum school early every day to tinker with technology.
We teachers are left alone to learn technology, like inmates set adrift on the raging sea on our way to a uninhabited island.
This is indeed a serious problem – and likely an all-too-common one in schools of education. Of course, today we live in a highly digital and globally connected landscape that lets just about anyone learn just about anything, as “ml” shares in the comment that precedes Patricia’s. So, what are some of the key variables that differentiate “ml” and Patricia from others? Lack of interest? Lack of passion? Lack of curiosity? Lack of even the most basic skills to understand the potential of the Internet for exploring, connecting and learning?
For students in schools of education who are not learning how to leverage new tools and new learning spaces… for learning, can they any longer just raise their hands in despair or do they now have some responsibility for learning this along the way? For sure, their programs in some cases are failing them in this regard. On paper, they are able to show that they are “integrating technology” across all programs and content areas, but from experience I know that this is often a sham. It’s just not happening. Other schools of education may offer a single technology course for all educators, packing far too much into a single semester and being forced to look at technology rather generally rather than specific to individual areas of specialization. In addition, their notion of “technology integration” is using Moodle or Blackboard. The reality is that for many instructors and professors of education, they too have not been paying attention to how the interplay between culture and learning has been shifting. They often see their specialty as it existed years ago. Their bag of tricks hasn’t grown much in the last decade or two. They are not active in this highly digital and global learning landscape at all. So, yes – they are ill-equipped to help their “Patricias” – the next generation of teachers.
In as much as this can no longer be an excuse for new teachers and experienced teachers alike, it can no longer be an excuse, it can no longer be acceptable – for those charged with preparing teachers today. In K-12, many would say that this is in part a leadership issue – that administrators need to both model and facilitate such growth in their staff. The same can be said in higher education. When deans and department chairs are as technologically illiterate as the rest, leadership in this area falters.
I feel bad for all of the “Patricias” out there. I teach many of them in a single education technology dedicated course. They need more. They need rich technology-infused experiences in the context of their content area courses. All of them. Some will be like “ml” and Patricia who take the bull by the horns and leverage the great potential of the connected web to fill in
the gaps and learn what they need. Others simply continue on cruise control, recognizing that they need more, yet seem unwilling and/or unable to do much about it. They themselves still have the old mindset that “if someone doesn’t teach me, I can’t learn it”. I think these two types of in-service teachers exist in schools today as well.
If you ask me, higher [teacher] education is still not being disrupted enough.