Thursday, November 8, 2012

Technology - a different language in the classroom?

This post will provide a little background for  #ukedchat tonight, which I have been asked to host. I have a few anxieties about this because I am a reflective person who needs a lot of thinking time. I can also be reactionary - and this can get me into trouble. I would rather think before I speak, but obviously there is no time for that during online debates. 

So, the five themes I chose for #ukedchat were

I was hoping that the topic for debate would be drama based, but kinda knew that this one would get the most votes:

 How can we support teachers who struggle to engage with new technologies?

As an ICT consultant (one day each week) and ex-AST I have experience of supporting other teachers, leaders and schools with ICT developments. I am honest about my abilities and my weaknesses. I will happily support creative developments and the embedding of ICT; I do not do excel. 
I have met many people with different abilities and yes, have sometimes found it frustrating trying to teach things that I consider to be simple. Things that I naturally do (scrolling down the page, clicking the next button etc) do not always come naturally to others. Some people need a lot of time to play and learn - and some people have better things to do. It's like taking on a new language. It takes lots of practise and sometimes when you go back to something you've done before, you forget how to do it. So how can we support teachers who struggle with new tech?

To understand how the 'struggle' feels, I try to think of how I would feel if I had to embed another language across the curriculum. A language that kept changing. I also understand how frustrating it can be when the technology goes wrong. It did for me during an OfSTED lesson. It was all fine in the end (thank goodness) as we were used to technical failures in class and I always had a plan B. We were familiar with and happy to persevere with a system that wasn't working well. Not everyone has that stamina.

I hear the argument that there are plenty of us who take the time and work hard to learn new things and keep up to date with technology. What about the people who keep up to date with new music? I was in awe of my teacher at primary because he was Spanish, his name was Mr Casanova and he played the guitar and sang flamboyantly. In high school I did 'computer studies' and I made a program that helped decorators (!) It is not an overwhelming memory, not like the drama we did or the learning outside the classroom. I suspect that when our children leave school they will remember things like that - not who was good with the technology. 

So hopefully #ukedchat will be a great place to generate some ideas and useful support mechanisms for teachers who struggle with technology. 

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