Are teachers anti-technology? I don't think so. One of the primary responsibilities of teaching is to relate to students in your classroom. If you think those earbuds in your student's ear are plugged into a magic little box that creates music out of the ether, well, you might not make it as a teacher. My four year-old demonstrated the other day that he knows enough about computers to exit the Word document that I've failed to save in order to find his favorite games website for a little "Uphill Rush" in the afternoon.
My point is that a teacher who doesn't get technology is akin to the teacher who lets ink stain his or her shirt pocket, the one who still says "that's the bomb" when they want kids to think they're "hip", the male teacher who still wears mid-thigh shorts in the summer time. Teachers must understand the world their students live in. This doesn't mean yielding to every fad or fashion of the day, but if we are not at least involved enough to understand what influences our youth, we're likely not concerned enough about them to teach them well.
Still, we aren't the trendsetters. Kids aren't taking their fashion cues from us. Several years ago, students started prefacing every statement with the phrase "not gonna lie." It was the new "like." I thought it would be cool to start my own trend so I started saying things like "NGL, this is going to be the hardest quiz you'll ever take" and "you've got a low B right now, but NGL, if you get a good grade on this test it might bring you up to an A-." I think they made fun of me for that. I tried to tell them that everyone was saying it now because "not gonna lie" just took too long to get out. They didn't believe me.
What does this have to do with anything you say? Well, as a teacher, I must be immersed in the culture of technology as much, nearly as much, or maybe slightly more than my students. If I'm too far ahead of the curve, most of them aren't going to follow. A few months ago, I laughed with a colleague over the fact that when we were in high school, shorthand was still a class. Our last post mentioned the Apple IIe from the 1980s. Most adults, even as young as twenty years old, can look back with a little humor at how far we've come with technology since their high school days.
So are teachers, anti-technology? I don't think so. I think most teachers are very willing to engage learners in new ways, taking risks from time to time for the sake of better teaching. I think we're a little put out when our leaders promote the myth that technology will save money and solve so many of our problems in education. We get tired of seeing that money is always available for new technology, but scarce in other areas. We don't jump to use technology that just does what we've always done, except maybe a little faster or fancier.
Teacher/blogger, Larry Ferlazzo wrote a piece for Education Week earlier this week suggesting a checklist of sorts for whether he would consider using a particular technology in his classroom.
1) Does it take me less than one minute to learn the basics on how to use it?
2) Will it take less than one minute -- with guidance -- for my students to learn to also learn the basics on how to use it?
3) Does it provide a value-added benefit to student learning over a similar activity using basic classroom tools?
4) Is it a tool that I believe can be used regularly in class?
5) And, lastly, though being able to answer yes to the previous four questions usually outweighs a negative response to this one -- Can it make my life a little easier?
I like it.