23 July 2017

When Teachers Still Say "I Don't Know about Computers"

Mid 2017 and I still hear educators publicly state how they don't know much about "computers" and so will not be able to carry out X or Y teaching task. 

Excuse me? 

Given the choice, would these same teachers go to a doctor who practiced medicine as it was practiced in another past century? Given the choice, would these same teachers live in a house which didn't have the basic facilities of running tap water and electricity??? Do they not even know the
difference between a computer and digital literacy skills???

For those not know where to start learning, The Global Digital Citizen Foundation 
is one of the many, many places to begin learning about different issues in education today.

There is such a wealth of ways that digital technology may support and encourage learning, that it is, quite frankly, unacceptable that teachers still excuse their lack of interest in today's world by saying "oh, I am not very good at computers". More than ignorance, it is a disservice to our learners. 

However, it is also necessary that teachers don't mistake the use of PowerPoint and Kahoot as evidence that they are integrating digital education in their classroom practices.  These are tools; and as all other tools, there needs to be constant reflection as to the learning outcomes and pedagogical purposes which support learning. Additionally, merely including digital media (in any form) is also not the only answer in education. Educators should become familiar with the learning tools available to all today and their pedagogical implications, while also fostering a more critical approach to pedagogy. 

So where does one begin learning?

With others.

Through collaborative networks and communities.

By reading, by participating, by engaging with others.

By taking risks of failure, risks of ridicule, risks of learning.

By active learning.

Learning does not happen in an empty vacuum; learning is not something that is done to you. It requires participation and being active. As George Couros so well expressed, "isolation is now a choice educators make" .

Perhaps if educators were more willing to update their teaching and learning skills,  they would find themselves complaining less about their learners, and actually be more likely to be pleasantly surprised at the creative thinking and production their learners are capable of.


Further Suggestions:


  1. Great post. The last year that I was a regular teacher was about 6 years ago and I felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge about all things technical. Things were moving and changing quickly and there were times I felt out of my depth. You hit the nail on the head when you mention risk taking. If we expect our students to take risks in their learning and not be afraid of failure - and to face up to the fear of ridicule (a fear that is almost always completely unjustified in my experience), then we should model that approach in our teaching. And these days that really means embracing technology and never stopping our own learning.

  2. Hi Kath,
    Thank you for visiting and taking time to share your thoughts. Yes, it is difficult to take risks, to say to a class of learners that one just doesn't know something, or, to face a digital let down (which so often happens when one least wants it to!). Perhaps it is time to change that, and begin feeling more comfortable with learning risks and learning failures. Quite often this notion of embarrassment begins with colleagues - peers who, instead of working collaboratively, operate more on a competitive basis, making it uncomfortable for colleagues to admit that something is not clear or that they could do with some coaching. I know the look, the pedantic attitude and patronising which follows ....

    I think that often that is the reason teachers don't reach out to others and that is a mistake. Educators are not super human and if they don't support each other, who will? Being humble does not mean that one is not professional not unable to learn. Learning - and teaching especially - requires degrees of humility and empathy.

    As for digital technology, yes, changing so much, so quickly that education in general can often find it a challenge to keep up. Again, I don't think any teacher has the obligation to know everything; more important is to keep learning, to be able to meet learners' learning needs and interests. Connecting with learners - regardless of making digital mistakes.

    And remembering, digital spaces are above all, human spaces.

    Thank you again!

  3. When people ask me how to become a good teacher with tech, I tell them you first have to be a good teacher. Then, you can avoid the problems you mentioned of using something like Kahoot as a 'fun filler' and instead use it to promote learning and challenge the learners more.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thank you for visiting and leaving your views; you are absolutely right and that is something I repeatedly say to teacher trainees - first the pedagogy, first being a good educator and then using digital tech to enhance learning. It's all about the learning, the learners and their learning processes - not about shiny new digital tech. Then again, as much as teacher are overloaded with work, taking time to update themselves and their daily practices is essential to being a good educator.