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Engineering...Beyond the Classroom

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Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

Posted October 21, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

Using technology in the classroom brings anxiety, apathy, or excitement to the minds of many educators. But why do some fighting tooth-and-nail to avoid using emerging educational technologies, both in and out of the classroom? Is it stubbornness or fear of change? Is it that most technology is a passing fad? Is it lack of time? Let's cut to the chase and see what the CR4 community thinks about some of the more common exucses that exist that keep technology on the shelf in many classrooms.

In my experience, there are some common responses by educators who are fighting the trend of using educational technology. Certainly, underlying factors are varied and each situation brings different variable to the table. But for some, there is a certain level of anxiety about bringing technology into the classroom. There need not be; but until we get beyond the following misconceptions, it will remain a fight to get everyone on the bus:

  1. I don't have time for it.
  2. I can't (or don't want to) learn how to do it.
  3. Some students don't have access to technology at home, so how can we expect them to do it?
  4. As soon as I understand it, it is just going to change.
  5. It's flashy, but it doesn't help test scores or student abilities enough to be worth it.

Let me start debunking some of these misconceptions from my own personal experience as an educator and user of educational technology. Please keep in mind that the building I work in is over fifty years old. I have compiled some technology for my room by writing grants and taking donations of old computers from friends and family members who have upgraded. You CAN make do with what you have to work with, as teacher or even a parent who is home schooling their children, which is becoming increasingly popular.

Overcoming Cognitive Dissonance

We fear the unknown. If someone else has a superior grip on the unknown, we naturally feel inferior. Most often, we deal with this in one of two ways: reject what we don't understand as trivial, faddish, or inherently useless; or admit a shortcoming in our lack of ability or knowledge in understanding it. Guess which is easier on our egos and takes less work?

Educators must be willing/encouraged to operate outside their comfort zones; it is the only way to grow as professionals. Consider that at one point, overhead projectors were "high tech" and the Commodore 64 computers in my high school chemistry lab were cutting edge! Fighting the natural evolution of technology and education is about as worthwhile as arguing with the sun not to rise.

It is NOT an All or None Scenario

There certainly is a balance between using good technology, and just using it just to use it. Technology doesn't take the place of a great teacher, it augments a great teacher. And not all technology is useful or appropriate, so it takes some experimentation – perhaps trial and error – to be successful. But that willingness is what leads teachers to strive to get better. If you don't have that desire anymore, it's time to move on!

Don't Let Me Have All of the Fun

Each week, I will tackle one of the above concerns and present my perspective as to why we must, as a technology based society, encourage and support educators to move from blackboard to whiteboard, at least part of the time. In doing so, students will be better prepared for the work environments they will encounter. But it isn't so cut and dry. I look forward to hearing what you think!

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#1

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 7:23 AM

haha make a marking

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#2

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 7:47 AM

Surely it depends entirely on what subject you are teaching...??
Oddly there seems to be no mention of this (unless my skim reading is letting me down (again)).

I can't see any need for technology in teaching English Literature or History?
White board blackboard greenboard, who gives a toss?

Now in science subjects go for it...but I forget 'health and safety' prohibits the kids doing anything vaguely interesting....

Del

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#3
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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 8:10 AM

Actually, Del, you are looking at/using a form of writing right now. I have entered the blogosphere with my writing classes and technological constructs, such as webquests, help students learn literature while teaching them research skills that they need to write academic papers.

It certainly does vary from subject to subject, but technology can be a useful tool in any subject area that I have ever seen. Having taught both history and English, I know that I use technology to both enhance learning and teach I.T. Literacy so students are capable to handle the rigors of post-high school education (or work) when they are done.

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In reply to #3

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 8:16 AM

Ya got me there...Fair comment.
Ha, but this doesn't count 'cos I'm typing with gloves on .

Del

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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 8:18 AM

I guess that is what they mean by treatings someone with "kitty gloves", then!

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#6

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 10:19 AM

It's too bad that teachers do make these excuses. I remember many-a-class that could have used some type of interaction tool. As an English teacher, you probably know that topics like grammar can put a kid to sleep in just minutes - but if there was some kind of tool that you could incorporate to get kids to interact and be more interested, like grammar-bingo! (although, grammar isn't necessary interesting ever).

I think that if teachers put forth the effort, then students may follow. Maybe that is too idealistic, but I'd like to think that is true to some degree.

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#7

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 10:40 AM

I think that a big reason why teachers do not use newer technology is because it costs more. Schools these days can't afford the most cutting edge technology, and if they get it, the funds to teach the educators how to use it to benefit the kids will milk them dry. What is the point for schools to get new technology if the teachers may or may not apply it correctly in the classroom.

There used to be a time when using a chalkboard was efficient at teaching kids concepts. Making these kids solve the problems to the class was all the rage when I was little. I could remember my hand shooting up in elementary school along with many others envying the power of having chalk in your hand could be. It was class participation at its highest. Somewhere through middle and high school, that was lost in translation. Perhaps it isn't the new technology that was most effective, maybe it was class participation (or being high off chalk dust ).

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#8

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Class

10/21/2008 11:37 AM

Using technology in the classroom should bring opportunity to make process of education productive.

Time when teacher was the only carrier of "unique" knowledge has gone. Children have practically the same accept to information.

Children so often overrun adults in using of Tech due to their nature. So often they overrun their teacher. I think here's no place for to be anxious of that but to be glad and proud. Isn't it the main purpose of any education when student is doing better than teacher?

I personally support the concept that an education is just a self-education and teacher is only a guide. So there is the only purpose for education to make this time close when student is prepared enough to go further on his/her own. Technology in and out of a classroom suits for such approach. Popularity and success of home schooling is proving that.

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#9

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 1)

10/21/2008 11:00 PM

Teaching how a motor works inside a Vibrator will surely get the class attention.

It is not what you teach but how you teach it, that makes it interesting.

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