There are, no doubt, many technophobes (among educators and in general) out there. Technophobia is defined by The Free Dictionary as:
Fear of or aversion to technology, especially computers and high technology.
Over the years, I have seen “the fear” many times. A popular idiom used here in the USA is to compare the signs of that fear to “deer in headlights” The eyes of the technophobe are widened and a form of paralysis sets in as soon as I approach. Although, I emphasize modern teaching, learning and pedagogy, I am perceived as a “technology guru”, justifying the terrified look (How could an educator have fear of teaching, learning or pedagogy?)
- I try to downplay the part technology plays… (No mention of the word “technology” in my job title, emphasizing of the skills, not tools)
- I try to convince that students will be able to take the “technology” part into their hands, that the teacher did not have to worry about it …
- I offer to “hold hands” during lessons, in case the feared technology failed, and paralysis sets in…
- I write step by step tutorials to allow practicing of skills, introducing new tools, planning lessons together
- I showcase the potential of amplification, engagement, motivation and learning potential technology can bring… (hoping that the results would “convince” and surpass the fear)
In Changing- Shifting a School Culture (May 2009…yes almost 4 years ago…), I wrote about my train of thought regarding
shifting from figuring out how to get educators familiar and comfortable enough to use technology as just another teaching tool to how to change or facilitate a shift of a school’s culture into a learning community.
[4 years is a long time in terms of technology change… think … 4 years ago, there were no iPads…]
4 years ago, I believed, that we might be ok, if a teacher continued to fear technology as a tool for themselves, and trust their students to take the reins.
2 years ago, I wrote in a post titled Enhancement-Automating-Transforming-Informating (May 2011)
Long ago, I have resolved that teaching and learning DO NOT depend on technology nor are “not real”, good or effective without it (see Changing-Shifting a School Culture, Bringing in Experts. Transformative Teaching and Learning? and It’s not about the Tools, it is about the Skills ). The best “tool” for good teaching and learning…is… a good teacher! That teacher can be a professional educator…it can be “yourself”… it can be a group of your peers… it can be a book, film, audio…(insert whatever media) or it can be… (insert whatever suits you, your learning or teaching style).
[Even then still believing that it is NOT about the technology …]
My thinking is shifting again. The sneaky feeling is creeping up over and over again that educators MUST experience the world of technology and modern learning (aka 21st century learning) for themselves in order to understand the transformative learning process the tools can enable .”Good teachers” will still teach (without technology tools)… their students will still learn… up to a certain degree… and not being able to move beyond a certain point.
Previously, I thought that as long as the technophobe allows students to use “their” technology and he/she takes care of the academic/pedagogical part, we would be alright, BUT…
Pedagogy has shifted… Modern skills and literacies have emerged…
Only with that new kind of experience in learning, collaborating, communicating, thinking… can we not only understand but also adapt and tweak the technology tools to serve as tools FOR modern literacies, student learning and amplification.
Just as our students… we are experiencing for the first time collaborative, across time (synchronous and asynchronous) and space (we don’t have to all be in the same geographic place), amplified (beyond our local audience, beyond our own perspective, beyond our own language) learning.
Just as our students… we are pioneers and explorers. We are testing the waters, we are giving ourselves permission to “fail forward“. There is no road map. Our only directions are: Learn- Reflect- Share
Just as our students… we are learning to learn from and express ourselves beyond text printed on a paper. We are learning from experts around the world (via Skype, Twitter and Blogs), we are learning new writing genres (hyperlinked, writing in digital spaces), exploring and discovering new research methods
Just as our students… we are surviving information overload and re-learning how to focus, find, filter, remix and create new information. We are learning how to curate information , look at and create information visually.
Just as our students… the most important skill we can learn, support, develop and prioritize is Learning How to Learn
Schools need to have/put platforms into place, that support their educators in developing, exploring and experiences new kids of learning that they will then be able to take beyond their own professional development and learning into the classrooms.
You need to EXPERIENCE through technology in order to see HOW you can translate that into your teaching!
For the technophobe amongst educators, it is time to GET OVER IT!
It is time. Take a look around you. The world has changed and it is not changing back. Technology devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops connect us instantly to tools, services and platforms such as Twitter, blogs, wikis, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat (among thousands of others).
Dr. Gil Perl recently wrote in a blog post Curriulum21 Initiative: Reflections from the Side of the Road that educators need to be at the forefront of understanding a changing world and get outside their own comfort zone. I could not agree more with him.
So what does a great 21st Century teacher look like? First of all, we learned that it’s not necessarily the teacher who tweets the pics uploaded to her Instagram account from her iPhone and remixes 3D animation with Khan Academy videos and soundtracks ripped from YouTube, then Snapchats herself doing it. It’s the teacher – whether new to the profession or seasoned veteran – who recognizes that the world is changing and that teachers ought to be on the forefront of understanding that change. It’s the teacher who has a burning desire to learn more and do more, while being open to reflection and redirection. It’s the teacher who encourages his students to take intellectual and emotional risks and models such by extending himself beyond his own comfort zone. It’s the educator who embraces the idea that her job is not to teach, but to help students learn.