Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It should be easy...

This post has been sitting in my scribefire for a long time since I lost the original...Today Jen Wagner's post on watching out not to be a "tech snob" brought me back....

This summer while I was doing summer professional development, I caught a few questions about exporting bookmarks from explorer that I couldn't answer...so I put them out to my network "It should be easy..." Jim Gates quickly replied .. "Shouldn't be hard at all..." came in from a twitter direct message from Steve Hardagon.. and really they ARE RIGHT....it SHOULD be simple.

But it is NOT and I am really torn between blaming the structures that prevent innovations and wondering when folks need to take accountability for some of this leaning on their own.

I had the pleasure of having the opportunity to get to hear David Warlick speak at CFF bootcamp last week. He talked about some of the things that should be happening in school, that NEED to be happening in schools. He recognized that this is obviously a complex issue, as education should be. Its more than can be expressed in a single blog. He stated that a teacher's job is not simple — not any more. The world that we are preparing our children for is complex, dynamic, and it may never be the same again. But it is also intensely exciting —
..and learning about that world, should be just as exciting as that world really is.

In TechLearning Terry Freeman made some powerful statements about some things which we must regard as simply unacceptable. Karl Fisch went so far as to say....If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write. Now I think this is an unfair analogy in that the internet and technological tools have not been around nearly as long as written works, but the world SURE IS moving QUICK and I think that everyone has a certain amount of responsibility to keep up. David Warlick and Chris Lehmann both had great posts which have been rumbing around in my head as well..

All of this making me think....
When is it ok...
  • Is it ok for a tech integration coach to not know what an RSS feed is?
  • How can we support teachers to learn how to use these tools that they don't even know exist?
  • Should we expect to always get professional emails that contain an appropriate subject line and signature?
  • Should we still be helping people add attachments to an email?
  • Why can astronauts blog from outer space, with elementary students but it is too difficult for classroom teachers?
  • When do we stop and say it is unacceptable?
I agree with Jen that we can't be tech snobs....that we need to help teachers to move forward, to recognize that it is not easy BUT we need to start show them how important it is for them to start to make some changes..and recognize that it is going to take time...

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  1. Here, here! If an astronaut can do it, then why can't I? I have no excuse (lucky I know a little about rss, huh?)

  2. We definitely picked up the wrong job if we act condescendingly to teachers who clearly need support, who clearly need to have the 'add an attachment' lesson scaffolded.

    We need to exercise the same level of tolerance and acceptance that we show our students, but we also need to hold high expectations for our teachers.

    I want my teachers to, first and foremost, reflect on their practice. I want them to ask questions. I want them to articulate a desire to do something better.

    Then a wiki. Then a blog. Then an RSS feed. Then, just maybe, an email attachment.

    Now more than ever, I admire the tortoise. Honesty, what the hell was the hare thinking?

  3. I agree with your thoughts on how it SHOULD be, and you pose some great questions, as have others, about how much lack of tech knowledge is acceptable from teachers. But here's the thing - students should behave; they should do their homework; they should give 100%.

    We can't plan our classrooms for the students we should have, and we can't run our schools for the way teachers should be. Ken's right, I think, about the need for support, tolerance, and a slow but persistent approach (Jim Collins writes about the flywheel in Good to Great).

    The good news is that I believe the slow but persistent approach pays off, and if done right the slow will then pick up rapidly, and on that I speak from personal experience. In January, I knew and did *nothing* with these tech tools. Prodded by one patient but persistent staff member, I began blogging. I got an RSS reader. I've since worked with wikis, I'm on twitter constantly, and am using GoogleDocs and Google presos with staff and fellow doctoral students. Our staff has embarked on growth with tech tools... and I find myself frustrated with their slow change of pace. And then I think of myself, less than a year ago. Had that one staff member been 'in your face' with me, I would have shut down. Now, I'm a convert, and an advocate. Still a newbie, with more to learn than I like to admit, but I've become *personally* convinced of the value, rather than having it forced on me, and so I know I will continue my growth.

    Keep the faith, be persistent, support, and know that if you take the same approach of promoting the growth of coworkers as you do with students, it WILL take off.

    Sorry to get on the soapbox... but I can relate, from both sides of this fence. :)

  4. Hey. Good questions. For the record, my post was pondering the statement, not necessarily endorsing it.

    I would disagree with your suggestion, though, that since the tech tools haven't been around for as long as the written word that it's therefore somehow okay. If we agree this is what our students need, then we have an obligation to figure it out, sooner rather than later. That doesn't mean, of course, that we can't help teachers and be tolerant as they figure it out. My concern, however, is with folks that are unwilling to learn. To me, that's unacceptable.

  5. Anonymous11:35 AM

    I'm basing my comment on Malcolm Gladwell's – The Tipping Point. If you aren't familiar, check out both this wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point and the Wikisummaries.org entry http://www.wikisummaries.org/The_Tipping_Point.

    Communication is everything. When we make ourselves a part of a community, we have a sense of belonging. This is what I feel is the most important to establish before anything else.

    People that push for change can be categorized as either Mavens, Connectors or Salesman and some might include Innovators, too. These people are the Tipping Point, but also the minority. Most people prefer the status quo. This doesn't make most people apathetic or even lesser educators. Many of these people are very caring and passionate educators. What we need to do is to better understand who our Mavens, Connectors and Salesman are in the organizations we serve. We need these change agents to work as a team to raise the expectations of the status quo (majority). Our Mavens will always know the latest technologies. Our Connectors will always know who to share information with. Our Salespeople will always know how to bring people on-board. Before we talk tech, we need to build these teams. These teams for change need to be a part of a learning community that listens to the needs, fears, wants, complaints, etc... of the entire group. Most important is understanding that no one person can be a Maven, Connector and Salesman at the same time to everyone.

  6. WOW--Thanks all for adding to the conversation. Ken, I think you are right that there are teachers who need the support and your analogy of the tortoise and the hare is a good one, the problem is the world is moving at "harelike" speed only unlike the hare it is not slowing down...Jeanette....I am trying to be persistent, support, and know that if you take the same approach of promoting the growth of coworkers as you do with students, the problem for me is remembering how quickly my learning curve is moving... I know that persistence will pay off...it just takes TIME...as Karl mentioned, we have an obligation to figure it out, sooner rather than later. As far as the Gladwell reference...that is a post for another time....
    Thanks all for your thoughtful responses.

  7. I'm with Karl. My concern isn't with teachers who try and need reteaching over and over again. My concern is with those who refuse to even try. We can no longer say it is okay not to use tech. It's not okay anymore.

    But, I am trying, thanks to Jen's blog, to not be a snob about my usage. And I constantly have to remind myself that my fellow teachers are not on the same level. My chagrin is that many, unfortunately, are not even on the stairs yet.