“Being tech-comfy, however, does not guarantee their proficiencies automatically grow into new and sophisticated literacies or on line competencies as info-sumers, critical thinkers, and savvy participants in a digital space.”
I saw this during the two graduate classes that I taught this year. All of my students were young teachers or preservice teachers and were well versed in the use of technology. All of them knew how to send text messages and search the internet.
In one class, teachers were doing a type of student teaching and had to reflect on their lessons by blogging. One teacher did not see the importance of blogging and encouraging conversations through an interactive platform. All of them did not have a blog so they had to create one for the first time. I also required them to comment on at least 3 blogs per week. This allowed others to read about the lesson that was taught, see what worked or what didn’t, and what the teacher would change. I think this is a better way of learning then just writing up a reflection on word and turning it in to me. Not everyone in the class agreed with me and one was quite unhappy with this assignment.
I was amazed that even though they felt comfortable with technology, they were only comfortable on their terms. They did not know how to grow professionally and constantly keep up to date with current educational issues by using these tools. By introducing them to blogs and Google Reader, they felt like a new world had opened up for them.
I was also amazed at the reluctance some felt towards learning these tools. Even though they were young, I would have thought I was hearing my grandparents speak. It reminds me of that commercial that advertises some food that children like and the parents do not want them to know that there is a serving of vegetables in it.
Even though they were tech comfy, they were not comfortable with the critical thinking involved in using the technology. This assignment went beyond the basics and involved actual learning and thinking. If an assignment is busy work, it doesn’t seem like it is worth doing. I wanted them to get beyond the busy work and grow professionally. I wanted the learning to be interactive and meaningful.
In the other class, I was able to introduce lots of new tech tools and they were like little sponges soaking it up. My students had never heard of some of these things. Not only did they learn about these tools but also discussed ways that they could use it in the classroom. All of the students were on facebook but that seemed to be the extent of their knowledge of social networking. In this class, I was able to teach teaching strategies as well as introduce them to online tools. No one had showed them many of these tools and their excitement was contagious.
I know for the past year I have emphasized the use of the tools but I think I will spend more time focusing on the way these tools are important in the classroom. I need to move past teaching the basics and start getting to the heart of the subject. I need to start presentations with the whys and then talk about critical thinking skills. I need to move past the tech comfy stage and get them to the tech savvy stage.
How do you move your students up to this point? Do you have specific activities you do? Please share if you do.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'iphone 1G'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30008272@N00/707543617 by: david pham