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Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

Posted October 28, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

Some educators are fighting to avoid using emerging educational technologies. There is certainly some anxiety about using something that you are unfamiliar with and I looked at some of the basic psychology beyond that in Part 1, as well as discussed the most common excuses not to use technology.

Until we get beyond these misconceptions, it will remain a fight to get everyone on the bus.

Misconception #1 - I Don't Have Time for It

All educators feel the time crunch. It seems as if there is more paperwork, more content, and more policy to administer every year. But while it might take some time to learn, your investment will be rewarded – most often with improved efficiency, repeatability, and student enthusiasm.

I Got the Power(Point)

Yes, creating PowerPoint presentations takes some initial time investment. When teaching global history, all of my notes were on PowerPoint. That first year was a serious, often nightly, time commitment to create each presentation. However, I would either have to write the info on the board, or type it into handouts/overheads, so what was the real difference?

The bonus was organization. One day I had the wrong notes up, ready to present what I had already given this particular class (one of the interesting parts of a teaching in a rotating block schedule). A student pointed this out. With three clicks, I had the new notes ready to go. No shuffling, no furious re-writing on the board needed.

Word Wide Web?

The same can be true of a website. They are as easy to design as a Microsoft Word document, and use many of the same features. Once posted, there is no need to constantly provide materials for absent students. Forget your worksheet? Go to the website. Out sick? Go to the website. In-school suspension? Go to the website.

One teacher would laugh at me when she saw me working on my website, and often mocked my efforts. Every hour she spent photocopying missed work and running to the suspension room or guidance, she was spending time that I didn't have to waste. And once a unit packet and calendar is up, my work is essentially done. Often, districts offer professional development (pro dev) hours to learn how to use technology. Some districts even give pro dev hours for maintaining your website.

Slow Down, You Are Moving Too Fast: An Alternative for Beginners

If that seems beyond your scope, there are easier alternatives. You can design your own blog with a few easy clicks of the mouse. There are several sites that offer this as a free service, such as Blogger, 21Classes, ePals, and EduBlogs. If you can post a comment on CR4, you can create a blog for your classes, which is really just a pre-formatted website. Adding hyperlinks and customizing the look is a snap, as many sites provide templates. With some experience, you can create something like AP Nation (Rick Hengsterman) or U.H.S Mythology (Pete Mody), which are linked below.

Parents also almost always love it, especially since most public libraries offer free Internet access. If they have questions on the weekends or late at night and want to make sure that their little Joey Nohomeworkagain really has nothing due, they can look for themselves. I have resolved many potential conflicts in parent-teacher meetings as parents realize that they can have access to materials that students often leave at school or bury in a backpack so they can avoid doing it. Empower parents to again be a driving force behind their child and accountability becomes a shared responsibility by all parties. Excuses for not having work done become thinner and fewer.

Really, how does anyone have time not to use it?

Next Blog: Misconception #2 - I Can't (Don't Want to) Learn How to Do It.

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#1

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/28/2008 10:16 AM

Making excuses is always silly - especially in this regard. I think you make a great case against those who remain resistant.

Recently I was working on a group project for a graduate class, and we were assigned a topic that our groups had to create a PowerPoint presentation on. I was amazed at how many people - graduate students especially - still didn't know how to use PowerPoint. That is not intended to sound snotty - it just showed me that not everyone had the experiences with educational technology for as long as I had. I'm grateful that I was able to get those experiences from middle/high school on up.

Using PowerPoint or blogging technology is not just beneficial for teachers anymore. Students are being asked to use these tools more and more often. So for a teacher to continually resist using technology, they may also be putting their students at a disadvantage. But really, like you said who doesn't have time to use it? It's like saying that you prefer to do it the hard way, which doens't make a ton of sense to me.

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#3
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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/28/2008 10:39 AM

I agree with the PowerPoint thing. You have to be all sorts of lazy to not take a bit to learn how to use it. All you really need to do is experiment with it. I have come across a handful of people that insist that they have no idea how to create PowerPoint presentation. In reality, if they can spend as much time explaining how they can't use it and practice, they will gain a lot more knowledge. You only need a class if you want to use more intricate features.

I can understand if teachers are a little less tech-savvy, but that is no excuse. PowerPoint slides can definitely help you in the long run. Work now, payoff later.

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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/28/2008 10:25 AM

If students can plagiarize work and submit it, why can't teachers plagiarize work and present it? What was your website address again?

Watch how management takes back the spare time you generate, and this undermines slightly one of the arguments for long academic holidays; the need for preparation.

I suspect you are preaching to the converted here, however. But it's nice to hear.

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#4

Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/29/2008 6:22 AM

When I was at school in the 1950s we didn't have electronic calculators or computers, ans now my grandchildren are completely lost if I ask them to work out the solution to a maths problem without their calculators?????????

I have also come across another problem in engineering, we had one CNC machine in our workshop and they had to produce eight vital marine engine components but the CNC machine broke down and it could not be repaired for six days!

The CNC operator had never operated an old fashioned lathe, but one of our older workers could and he eventually turned the parts on time........Lesson learned!

Spencer.

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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/29/2008 7:06 AM

While finishing up my injection mold tooling degree, I had to take a physics class. The instructor had all of his lectures on Black Board. These where posted on the campus web site and accessible 24/7 from anywhere for down load. I had all of my assignments completed before the lecture began. This gave me the chance to listen instead of trying to take notes and keep up. With his permission, I have kept his presentations to use at home with my children. When one of the topics comes up in their home work we open up the computer file and go through it.

I would like to see the text book publishers include a DVD with the text book rental / purchase. It could be timed to expire at the end of the school year to prevent the loss of revenue. I hate to see students, young and old (I work at a University), have to carry so many books back and forth. I have had several occasions where my son has brought home the wrong book. Impossible to do questions 1-10 without the book.

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#6
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Re: Overcoming Inertia: Inhibitions and Anxiety of Using Technology in the Classroom (Part 2)

10/30/2008 3:52 AM

There are a load of latter day Luddites in he teaching profession that fear the technology will reduce their numbers.

Well it will, they need to get used to it. They put forward that only they control the method and no mere machine can ever replace a teacher. There seems to be a conspiracy among the teaching profession to hinder and cripple computer use here in Canada.

The Ontario government here spent several hundred million in the 80's to try and invent the wheel....a computer-teaching system. It was never able to work and by the time the software was finished the mechanical design was 5 years old and hopelessly slow compared to IBM type PCs. That entire investment was scrapped and it was just pork for some friend of politicians.

This is a terrible burden to place on students, to limit them to the pace of the sluggards in the class.

Well crafted computer programs can lead students page by page through concepts, with questions and answers and reviews at the speed the student can maintain. If he is less smart, the computer can draw on other examples of the same concept from different angles in the same way as humans can do.

Some people are not smart enough for some tasks, and no manner of human/machine intervention will enable them in that field. Sure you can spend $$ on one on one tutors with these people, but at the end of the day they might be no more capable than a cat at geometry, although both the cat and the person might be very physically capable and well coordinated, they may be best left to tasks they can do and not face a life of failure.

University IT departments fought PCs hammer and tongs. I would get grant $$, spend them as I saw fit and the students would run programs and submit them on cards they had made to run on the central beast. Of course, the IT dept got to take bites from my grant, quite big ones... So in the early 80's I bought some PCs and ran the programs on them, other profs all over shared all manner of programs. This caused a hue and cry at the IT dept as they saw their life blood being choked off. Down came the edict, grant $$ could not be used to buy PCs, you must use the beast. WTF, I and many profs bought their own computers as they wanted a more effective grant useage. The IT dept was very greedy, the beast must be fed...

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