Here’s Why Teachers Should Not be Digital Dinosaurs in 2014

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digital dinosaur, happy new year

As soon as we stepped into December, the year roundup posts started sprouting up on every EduBlog. We did one too about 2013’s Best WizIQ Moments. Year end is also the time when educators start predicting the new year’s trends in education and technology. There are long lists of the Apps teachers should use, and the social platforms teachers should be on, or the gadgets teachers should choose. All these articles in my view are very decelerating. Now that the year 2013 has finally ended, should teachers simply wait for all the predictions to come true or should they be out there making things happen? Should teachers only stick to the lists or should they be experimenting and exploring and setting new trends for themselves?

It is always good to have the knowledge of what is happening around, but to limit your faculties to the ‘trends’ would be damaging. It is high time teachers became explorers with technology. “Because times are a-changin’ and fast, and it is only with self-exploration that the deepest secrets shall be revealed.”

I remember it was the glorious year of 2002 when we got our first computer. We were excited to the point of crazy. We would keep ogling at that beautiful, gigantic piece of early technology like it was an alien come into our lives with new hopes and possibilities. And 2 years later we got Internet; the magical magical internet, conjuring information out of nowhere. Such was our fascination with technology!

Sadly its not 2002, and technology (unless brought to Earth by Martians) doesn’t intrigue the new-age learner anymore. The digital natives are born with an iPhone in their hands and internet is more of an obvious necessity than a distant luxury. Learning with technology starts almost immediately after birth. More and more new parents have confirmed that their ‘babies’ are capable of operating mobile phones quite efficiently. Without an elder to assist them, these babies are known to reach the ‘Games Folder’ with remarkable ease.

So what does it say about the whole learning curve? Well a few things are certain:

1. Unless you graduated from Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft and can perform some really cool tricks, your students will not be impressed.

2. It will take more than a lousy tablet with a few dozen apps in it, to keep your students from dozing off.

3. Students can tell a real geek-teacher from a digital dinosaur in a robot dress. Honestly, there is no hiding those ancient claws!

4. Making some memes with your face in them is a really ‘cool’ idea to make your history class come alive.

5. Naming your child ‘Like’ or ‘Hashtag’ doesn’t justify your skills in social networking/learning/teaching. Maybe try naming your child ‘MOOC’ this year?

So this year, I won’t tell you what Apps you should use, or what social platforms you should be on, or the gadgets you should choose. Let 2014 be your year, the year when teachers break the shackles of the conventional and set a trend for other teachers to follow! Cheers to you! Happy New Year!

Engineer by education, writer by choice. I believe when you write for a cause, you become the cause. Few years from now, I see myself changing the world, one child at a time.

22 Comments

  • Reply January 1, 2014

    Dr. Nellie Deutsch

    Thank you for sharing, Navleen. I wish it were that simple. Your comment that “It is high time teachers became explorers with technology. “Because times are a-changin’ and fast, and it is only with self-exploration that the deepest secrets shall be revealed.” is not going to change anything as long as you’re using technology to express it. You need to get to the teachers face-to-face so that you can show them what’s available and what technology can do to facilitate learning. Most teachers do not use technology because they don’t know what’s available and how to use the Internet for learning. Let’s hope we get smarter in 2014 and bring technology to the schools. School stakeholders need to be reeducated on the use of technology for blended learning, fully online, and the flipped classroom.

    • Reply January 4, 2014

      Nan Zingrone

      Well as always I’m following in Nellie’s footsteps, but I do think that the folks who read the WizIQ blogs are more than likely people who are really interested in online learning, in technology, tools to help they bring creativity and technology in their classrooms, or they are people who are just beginning to see the power of technology. So I think it’s a great idea to tell them to get out there and find what they like for themselves, give it a try. That’s important. That many schools balk at technology, or find it worrisome or just too plain scary, and those types of schools put obstacles in the way of their tech savvy or tech-exploratory teachers is of course true. Still, getting the advice to find what you want, what you like, what you can use, is empowering to individual teachers if they have an environment that lets them try things out.

      • Reply January 4, 2014

        Roxanne Farrar

        That’s the clincher though isn’t it?
        It’s hard to feel empowered in an unsupportive and antagonistic environment.
        Being the “lone voice in the wilderness” gets old fast… Especially when one’s “lone voice” falls on deaf (or even hostile!) ears.
        In some ways, hostile ears are better than deaf ears, because — even if antagonistic — at least SOMEONE is listening!

        • Reply January 4, 2014

          Dr. Nellie Deutsch

          Are my colleagues really listening to me when I talk about technology and my experiences or are they only listening to their own voices that say no, no, no to anything new? I hear things like, there’s no time to waste. I can’t cover what I need to as it is. I’m behind. Technology is a game they play on their cell phones. It’s not serious “learning”.

          • January 4, 2014

            Roxanne Farrar

            When I read your words it’s like looking into a mirror! I’ve heard all those (incredibly lame!) excuses too…
            And quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing those excuses and really fed up with even trying to convince. Why waste my breath?
            I want to use my excitement and expertise in online education where they will be appreciated instead of scorned and ridiculed.
            I feel like I’ve already wasted enough time and precious energy trying to convince the nay-sayers… And for what? To be viewed and treated like a wild-eyed “renegade” from some alien planet… Ha!
            Sometimes I guess you just have to know when it’s time to gather up your marbles to play somewhere else, with more agreeable and forward-thinking playmates.
            I’d rather use my energy, expertise, experience, and time to CREATE (rather than to try to convince, justify, and argue).
            I’m so glad I joined in this discussion, this is really helping ke so much to get my priorities in order… Thank you! :-)

          • January 4, 2014

            Dr. Nellie Deutsch

            It’s the same everywhere. My doc dissertation was on the difficulties faculty were having as the school aliens because they were using technology in blended learning courses. Has anything changed since the mid 90s? Not much. I’m contemplating leaving school. I’m giving up after over 30 years of fighting the system. I thought I could change things from within. My own children keep telling me that school is not for learning, but it’s hard to let go.

          • January 4, 2014

            Roxanne Farrar

            No, no!
            Please don’t give up!
            Remember the 1st post you sent me… About joining you in changing things? And Sartre?
            I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet… I just want to work EFFECTIVELY to create change.
            I’m tired of spinning my wheels and being stuck in the mud… But that doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon my vehicle! Just get ‘er OUT of the mud and onto a smooth super-highway where I can go full speed ahead…
            Or maybe… Instead of super-highway, a RUNWAY so this “alien spaceship” can relocate to a more welcoming planet! ;-)
            Please don’t give up hope…
            Your kids are right though. But just because that’s true doesnt mean education itself is dead.
            It’s the obsolete delivery system that the short-sighted are clinging to so desperately that’s broken… Not education itself, no way!

          • January 4, 2014

            Dr. Nellie Deutsch

            I believe I can do more out of school than in school.

          • January 4, 2014

            Roxanne Farrar

            Such as? I am wide open for ideas… Which is why I so eagerly agreed to join you in your invitation to change things.
            I’m curious too about how (my hero!) Sartre fits in?

          • January 4, 2014

            Nan Zingrone

            While I would feel sorry for your students if you left, you have SO much energy and are such a leader in education, I can’t help thinking how much more you could accomplish if you could afford to let your “day job” go!

      • Reply January 4, 2014

        Dr. Nellie Deutsch

        Trying things out sounds like a lot of fun and so very intuitive. Why isn’t technology used as readily as the pen and pencil are in school?

        • Reply January 4, 2014

          Nan Zingrone

          Well it beats me. Recently I discovered that friends of mine are very supportive of the Walden Schools that, among other good things, do something I think is going to make life (or is making life) hard for their graduates. It’s grade school that does not allow technology of any kind. They feel it is important for children to learn how to create with pen and pencil, and in all the low tech ways we grew up with, and our parents grew up with. I understand wanting children to know how to make things with their hands, to be creative without the extras technology provides, but they come into High School without computer experience, with no gaming, no drawing/painting with software, no content creation, not even the social media experience of everyone else in their generation. And that worries me a lot. Although 13-14 is a more labile period — probably, don’t know the brain science — to start learning huge new skills, it’s also a social period that is very unforgiving. Amish and Mennonite kids are brought up that way, but they mostly go on to live in their own communities and not join the world at large. So that worries me.

  • Reply January 1, 2014

    Halina

    I absolutely agree with Nellie that ” School stakeholders need to be reeducated on the use of technology for blended learning, fully online, and the flipped classroom.”

    • Reply January 1, 2014

      Dr. Nellie Deutsch

      Halina, only teachers, who work in brick and mortar schools, know about the hold school stakeholders have on education.

      • Reply January 1, 2014

        Halina

        Yes, and this is what worries me the most.
        Educators who are willing to use new technologies in the
        classroom have to face a lot of problems with altering the way of teaching. The most important change would be to make authorities get familiar with new methods of running lessons in the 21st Century.

        • Reply January 3, 2014

          Roxanne Farrar

          I agree. I think that when administrators become familiar with the institutional gains online education affords, they will push harder to entice instructors to “get on board”…
          Not that I believe that ALL classes should be online, nor should all educators be forced to teach online either… But educators (like me) who want to should — if not be supported and encouraged — at least not be prevented from doing so…
          Simply because my supervisors don’t “like” or understand online education, and they don’t want to either. I think the reason so many faculty are resistant to even consider or investigate online pedagogy is because of the “intimidation factor”.
          As my supervisor says, it’s the “wild, wild west” now… Online education is evolving before our very eyes. For my supervisor and similar like-minded, timid souls, that’s just “scary” and they want to “wait and let’s see what happens” and in the meantime discourage those of us who are eager to “step down”.
          From my point of view, the “wild, wild west” metaphor is exciting… What they see as the frightening “unknown”, I see as a wonderland of opportunities and new, exciting potentials for educational applications.
          Now is the time for educators to get involved before corporations take over and education becomes totally automated.
          And as far as trying to talk to educators face-to-face to try to get them on board… Good luck with that. In my (frustrating) experience, those who are not interested will not listen and they will not change their minds.

  • Reply January 3, 2014

    Roxanne Farrar

    As a tenured professor who loves and prefers online teaching, I know from experience the truth in what Dr. Deutsche says about teachers not using technology for teaching because they don’t know enough about it. And they don’t want to learn either. Let’s face it, online teaching (when done properly) is much more challenging and time-consuming than old-fashioned on-ground, “sage in the stage” pedagogy. So it’s no huge surprise that old-timers don’t want to change their ways.
    The need is for administrators (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) to get educated and — if not actually REQUIRE profs to get techno-savvy — at least to support those (like me) who are.
    Even though it is much more time consuming and demanding, for me online teaching is the best… Because it’s the most effective way to reach students. When they are doing my online assignments, I’ve got their FULL undivided attention (unlike in the classroom setting).

    • Reply January 3, 2014

      Dr. Nellie Deutsch

      Roxanne, I’d like to change things. Maybe, you’re interested in joining me. Let me know if you follow some of Jean Paul Sartre’s ideas.

      • Reply January 3, 2014

        Roxanne Farrar

        Yes I’d love to join you!
        My doctoral thesis was expanding Sartre’s “progressive-regressive” methodology to employ as a tool for critical discourse on aesthetic experience.
        My focus now is on digital pedagogy. I believe that if we educators ourselves don’t get with it in that arena, the future of education is very bleak indeed.
        How can we join forces to enact change?

        • Reply January 3, 2014

          Dr. Nellie Deutsch

          I believe research may convince educators about learning with technology. Have you conducted any research on digital pedagogy?

          • January 3, 2014

            Roxanne Farrar

            No formal research per se on the subject. Just 20+ years of higher ed experience… “in the trenches” as they say. In a variety of different types of institutions of higher ed (private, public, large, small, urban, rural, etc…).
            What worked in the 1990′s classrooms simply does not work today… And why should it?
            At first I was disparaging and didn’t want to accept the changes, railed and fought and denied… Until a “lightbulb” blinked on for me one fine day and I realized, why SHOULD pedagogy today in this digital revolution be the same as it was before Smartphones… Even the web itself!
            As someone who often teaches Art History for example, even in the 1990s I used slides (instead of just looking at reproductions in books or seeing the artworks in person). Then PowerPoint freed me from those burdensome carousels, hooray!
            So we always seem to use technology to improve our pedagogy, which is why I find it so hard to understand the resistance of so many (even young, freshly-minted PhDs!) to the next logical step… Online teaching.

  • Reply January 4, 2014

    Nan Zingrone

    Great one, Navleen! I love the call to find our niche for ourselves and all the wondrous new tools that can populate it! Very good advice!

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