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What ICT Teachers Think… 20 May, 2009

Posted by paralleldivergence in education, ICT in Education, Internet, My Thoughts.
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EVERY School Term for the past ten years, in conjunction with my team, I have been running Information Days for school ICT Coordinators. Over 250 teachers representing over 200 public schools consistently come to find out the latest information relating to ICT in school education in our little part of the world. Now while I’m usually the one passing the latest news onto them, I often like to ask them what their point of view is – that is, being a school educator that uses ICT in the classroom, or in other words, being a minority within the teaching faculty.  Here’s what some of them have told me.

ictteachers1

“My students tell me I’m their most-favourite teacher!”

Well that’s a good start. You incorporate the gadgets. You let the students use fun stuff that the other teachers seem to avoid. Of course you’d be popular.

“I have to spend a lot of my own time learning how to do this, but it’s really worth it!”

Technology changes very rapidly. When we started our ICT Info Days, it was all about installing applications and transferring files. Now it’s blogs, wikis and personal learning networks.

“Why is it my responsibility to show other teachers how to do this when I had to do it myself?”

I stopped to think about this. It’s a good point. But in the end, I decided it was a selfish point of view. Is school teaching a case of “every man or woman for themselves“? I certainly hope not. Especially not in high school where each student has multiple teachers. ICT-innovators are trailblazers. They need to forge the path for other teachers to follow. They need their fellow teachers to follow them. But not everyone can be Marco Polo. Consider yourself your school’s own Marco Polo. An adventurer discovering new worlds for the benefit of future travellers.

ictteachers2

“It’s plainly obvious that when using technology my students are engaged and performing.”

There is definitely an attraction by students to information and communications technologies. 

“Continuity is the biggest problem I see for the students that leave my class at the end of the year.”

It almost begs the question, “why do this extra work at all?“. If you’re operating as an island when the most of the rest of the school is a technology desert, are you really helping? If your year 5 class is buzzing with effective interactive ICT activities, how will your students feel when they go to year 6 where the only time the computer gets turned on is when a student finishes their cloze passages stencil early so they can “play“?

“If I leave the school, it will probably be the case that the ICT programs I run will cease.”

This is one of the biggest tragedies that come out of working alone. While the teacher will probably leave (often with a promotion) to continue her ICT program elsewhere, the school they left goes right back to square one. We need a way to identify, package, promote, share and develop effective ICT teaching practices – not to keep them as one teacher’s secret weapon.

So, what do you think?

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Comments»

1. Pixeltoy - 21 May, 2009

That final quote is currently happening where I am taking deferred salary leave from. The amount of techassist and ideas “how you can use ict in your next lesson” has diminished to zero. The schools has also acquired its first 3 IWB and they are used…sometimes. Well, yeh I guess that’s how you could justify the use of a $7000 resource, just use it sometimes.
Teachers need to see scenarios. How a digital camera could be used in my next Maths lesson. How email can be used in the next literacy lesson (my students LOVE this one).
If you haven’t already, SWS has a gem of a resource which is underutilised (the counter must be stuck because that was the total in Dec 08). http://www.southwesternsydney.sreg.education.nsw.gov.au/
Step-by-step ideas for the reluctant teacher. Helped me to motivate all 5 Stage 3 teachers back in 08.
For others, the mastery of a single software package “ComicLife” opened many doors- text type writing, information skills in the Library, posters for the classroom etc.

2. paralleldivergence - 21 May, 2009

Thanks for the link Pixeltoy. The main point I’m pushing here is that there is now an urgency to get all teachers up to speed with the present. The ICT-educator has a vital role in making this happen in all schools. If teachers are going to sit back and wait for their department to hold their hand and show them how to do it, they’ll just continue to fall behind. John Cotton Dana said it best one hundred years ago: “Those who teach must never cease to learn.”

3. Pixeltoy - 21 May, 2009
4. Julieh - 21 May, 2009

mmm .. I’m wondering why the integration of ICT is so problematic! When we think about the massive impact of technologies into fields such as medicine (esp. surgery and disagnostics), motor mechanics, science and so on – there has been radical shifts in the core of how this work is done, technologies don’t just enhance or improve efficiencies, things are done very differently. Why not education? whay are we still fussing about the edges?

5. paralleldivergence - 21 May, 2009

Hi Julieh. Personally, I think there are several factors working together that are keeping most teachers from advancing their skills with the times. You just have to look at the email for teachers debacle. Since 2002, NSW DET was ready to provide teachers with their own DET email account, but they were blocked by the union (rightly or wrongly). When the ban was finally lifted, most NSW teachers got their first work email account in 2007! And furthermore, the ban was only lifted if individual teacher could choose to “opt-out” of email. Contrast this with me getting my first email in 1989 (within the NSW Electricity Commission) and with the rest of the world and industry getting it for mainstream communications in the mid-90’s. And now that all teachers have an email account, how many can you honestly say actually use it?

We have a very big hill in front of us. While we as ICT adopters feel comfortable with major initiatives like 1:1 laptops, how many of our peers can we say will confidently move into a digital teaching environment?

6. Roger Pryor - 21 May, 2009

I was encouraged by a comment in Kelli’s blog following the L4L forum about ‘dealing with’ the issues related to tech failure..we got over it, for example, when the bulb in the overhead projector broke..why do we embrace any failure in the network as an excuse to disengage?

What are some of the truths of our profession?

Engaged teachers always enjoyed co-constructing sequences of good learning activities in vibrant staffrooms and celebrating successes and unpacking the processes needed to redress issues.

Engaged teachers have always been excited by the possibilities which videotape, photocopiers, VCR, fax, PC, wireless, mobile, internet, web 2…..provide

Engaged teachers feel good about it.

If we are, as so many would say: ‘here for the kids’
then, at whose feet does the responsibility for engagement lie? engaging who?

To be other than optimistic is to condemn the future of our young people without giving them the opportunity to develop solutions to enable it to be otherwise.

7. paralleldivergence - 21 May, 2009

So very true Roger. Thanks for this important reminder that we all need to heed.

8. Pixeltoy - 30 May, 2009

Roger, remember that document u made us aware of a couple of yrs back? Engage Me or Enrage Me
At the time I gave my fellow exec a copy to read and consider. Strangely, my boss had the most to say about it. She did not agree with the underlying philosophy of the piece. The other exec were glad they wouldn’t have to do anything about it (as the boss wasn’t swayed).
Then the DET announced Connected Classrooms and suddenly my boss is asking if ‘we’ are truly ‘engaging’ our students by use of a blackboard. Yes, about 2yrs after that article and the green light is given!
In the meanwhile I was scrounging all the ‘old’ computers that were meant to be dumped (pentium mmx! PIII, original iMacs). I placed 16 around the walls of my class, bought a couple of switches, cat5 cable, installed eduBuntu on all the PC’s. In a matter of days my room was a buzzing learning centre.
Was the learning of my yr4/5 changed? Definitely. Did the class tone change? Absolutely. Did the students gain anything? Incredibly so. Were they engaged? Well, not by my boss’ initial comment they weren’t- but I persevered because I knew and could see that there was a renewed interest in learning.

9. paralleldivergence - 30 May, 2009

So how many other teachers at your school did what you did Pixeltoy?

10. Pixeltoy - 30 May, 2009

As if! Too much hard work. They all got the new rollout whilst I took their old machines (2007). This was the catalyst fir the librarian to get motivated, especially after I showed the ease and power of Comic Life. Although, she is a die hard PC user and refuses to see any other platform as being useful. She still argues that IE is the best browser!?


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