Sheila Take a Bow

Several years ago, asking teachers to make sure they were using technology as an integral part of teaching their subject was akin to only employing a baker if he or she also had the ability to fly a plane.  People did not enter into teaching to use technology, and if they did it was purely because they wanted to teach computer sciences.

Write a ‘black and white’ sentence such as that last one and it seems reasonable to assume that it is too much of an ask and perhaps, with historically large workloads, much in the way of extra-curricular administration to complete and lack of time, an unreasonable ask at that.  However, in 2013 the ‘I can’t / won’t use technology in the classroom’ debate rings hollow.  Technology is as much a part of our modern landscape as letters and numbers. Now be honest.  If anyone told you that they don’t use the number 7 because it never works for them and they can’t get the hang of it, you would raise an eyebrow and look incredulous.  Yet educators are still using this as an acceptable excuse for not using technology.

Or are they?

Teachers and trainers (like all of us) are all on a technological continuum, with ‘can’t use it, won’t use it’ marking one end and ‘I love it,  I use it as much as I can’ the other. And here’s what I’ve been finding for the last few years: there are more teachers on the ‘right’ side of the continuum than the ‘wrong’.  I would even go as far as to say that the ‘can’t, won’t’ teachers are so few and far between as to be on the point of extinction.

Talking honestly, the things that make me love technology are also the things that drive me mad, so I would assume even the most enthusiastic teachers feel swamped. The digital landscape is a meta universe. It is in a constant state of flux and exponential growth. Technologies, like stars, are born then die at the turn of a calendar page.  The number of electronic devices, fads and trends and the quantity of sites that promise to provide the same service in different ways…well, it’s expanding even as I type.

Start to make presentations. Use PowerPoint. Wait: don’t use PowerPoint, as everyone says it’s rubbish.  Use Keynote. Use Prezi. Use sliderocket. Oh-hang on-it’s called ClearSlide now.  Try animoto then. Share the presentations on Jorum.  Or SlideShare.  Try delivering it using the Pecha Kucha method.  Try collaboration.  Use Google Docs.  Use a wiki.  Or Wallwisher.  Sorry – Padlet.  It changed its name.  Want to use blogging?  Blogger’s good. WordPress is fab.  I used Posterous, and told dozens of staff and students to use it too.  But I had to move all of my posts to Tumblr because Posterous got bought by Twitter and now it’s closing down.  Tumblr’s good for online curation too, and that’s good for Problem Based Learning and Student Led Enquiry.  Scoop.it’s good for curation too.  And PearlTrees.  And Pinterest.  And Wallwisher.  Sorry-Padlet…

That there is my thought process on a day to day process.  I find it exhilarating because I genuinely love what I do, but it can be exhausting. And, to be honest, a lot of the time I feel swamped by the sheer amount of (ever growing) information out there.  And because of my job, that can make me neurotic:

Am I using the right presentation tools? Hasn’t PowerPoint got a bad reputation because people just use it badly?  Why wasn’t I aware of this particular website when I wanted to curate some information about giraffes?  Is everyone using it but me?  I’m supposed to be a Learning Technologist, so I’m supposed to KNOW about all of these things.  Should I have moved my blog to WordPress, because so many people in the know use it? I like using Tumblr but maybe that makes me a bad Learning Technologist?

Here’s the point of today’s post then.  This is solely what I get paid to do for a living and all of my working hours are dedicated to exploring, using and advising on technology.  So if I find it all too much on occasion, is it any wonder that trainers and educators who are employed to deliver learning in completely different subject areas were resistant for so long?  And isn’t it a bloody marvellous thing that they may lack the ability to use what’s out there, but they are certainly no longer resistant?

So let’s give a big hand to all teachers, at all levels, in all sectors.  Because they must find this technological age vast and perplexing, yet are required, almost by proxy, to use it – and use it innovatively, dynamically and in such a way as to shape the next generation’s own digital futures.

I’m of to buy a sausage roll now.  But only if the baker has a pilot’s licence…

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