Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tech. Integration vs. Traditional Education

Recently, I was facilitating a workshop on "Building an Online Classroom." In addition to discussing the  adaptability and flexibility of Moodle environments for various classroom models, I also reviewed several characteristics of the 21st century student.

Our students are Digital Natives. They innately know how to use and infuse technology in every aspect of every day. It's what they know; it's who they are. Most people will agree - our students are unique. They learn differently than their counterparts five or ten years ago. For the most part, there is a profound gap between their technological expertise and the expertise of their teachers. Not in all cases, but in most cases.

Nevertheless, I was going through the workshop when a single hand raised from among my audience. "Aren't we focusing too much on this technology stuff? This stuff really doesn't have a place in education. We need to focus on traditional skills; we need to focus on writing, on textbooks, and doing stuff in class not online; not on the internet." 

Where do I go from there? Do I dive into a diatribe on technology integration and the advancement of society? Do I address the impact of technology on student learning? In actuality, I first had to take a moment to gather my thoughts and quell my frustration before briefly addressing the need to teach job ready skills that are adaptive for the 21st century. I spent no more than three or four minutes addressing this state before continuing on with my workshop. Regardless, it irked me for the remainder of the day.

I cannot fathom that we still have a faction out there who is against the implement of technology into the classroom environment. They see no reason why they should use that stuff in their class. I know these individuals are out there, but at the same time it boggles my mind.

What do we do about these individuals? True - they may be very good teachers who are successful in their own right. However, are they actually all that successful if they are not adequately preparing their students for future? How do we handle/work with these teachers. We all have these teachers. There is at least one in every building if not more. What do we do with them? We can't necessarily ignore them; you can't bury your head in the sand until they leave/retire. You can attempt to work with them and/or encourage them to infuse technology, but how successful is that? Unfortunately, I do not think that there is a clear, easy answer to this question. However, this scenario is played out time and time again day in and day out in our buildings/districts.

We waste time and energy trying to work with these teachers. Sometimes it's not teachers but building administrators. Sometimes it's district administrators. Again, what do we do? How do we convince these individuals that there is value in technology integration?

I honestly wish I had an answer to this question. If you have thoughts or comments please share. This is a "problem" that I know many of us have addressed; I know it is something that we will continue to address. Your insight would be greatly appreciated.