Thursday, September 29, 2011

Parties that don’t know each other

One thing was very apparent from EdCampSFBay, people have extremely high hopes for the future of technology and education.

Either that or they were totally naïve.  Part of that is because tech people were at a conference with teachers. 

I got the same feeling at the first District Technology Meeting only it wasn’t necessarily bright and cheery because the money clearly shows that iPads are not coming to a classroom near you in Ukiah.  In fact, simple wi-fi seems to be years away at Ukiah High School.  Funding is clearly preventing technological progress within Ukiah Unified, although that’s not what I gathered most from the meeting.

What resounded with me more than anything was the assumption that teachers know tech.  With districts pushing technology more and more I’m finding that teachers that have not grown up with it are not necessarily finding it as acceptable as many might think.  It’s not only new, it’s time consuming, sometimes unreliable, and often “trendy”.  And while those of us who grew up with technology have no problem adjusting to the culture surrounding technology, some who don’t constantly work with it create a cost/benefit mentality that veers into the negative, which in turn makes any implementation more difficult.  Teachers want to know how to make their classrooms more efficient, not trendy.  They want stuff that works all the time.  Working most of the time means back up lessons which means more prep time which means lessons don’t flow as well.  And while we see wikis and Glogsters and Twitter hashtags, a huge population of teachers are still seeing Microsoft Word, EZ Grade Pro, and e-mail.  And no, you can’t assume that teachers know even half the functionality of THOSE tools.  Contrary to popular belief, most teachers were NOT taught how to use technology in almost any capacity when doing teacher training.  To put it plainly; they are too old. 

That’s not a knock mind you.  Let’s remember that started teaching in 2001.  A teacher five years out from me would have hardly had Internet in their college classes, and a teacher ten years out would have probably had none.  It’s not simply changing the tools, the culture of technology needs to change within classrooms and that’s not an easy thing to do.  Techies need to realize that the number one priority for teachers is student based, and teachers need to realize that the technology does not just appear out of thin air and work.  Technology takes massive amounts of time and work, often without borders of the punch card or time clock.  And Ukiah Unified is massively understaffed for technology (as in everything else) allowing for more potential for small hiccups.  It’s amazing that everything runs as smoothly as it does, and teachers are quick to forget that. 

I intend to attend more District Tech meetings in the future and I’m still very interested in bringing Ukiah Unified more up to date in the realm of technology.   

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