Remember the smell of fresh ditto machine ink after running off an assignment? Or what it was like to walk around with what seemed to be a permanent stain of overhead pen projector ink on your hand? And what kind of a teacher could afford a fancy Palm Pilot? Even though these devices have all but gone the way of the dinosaur in the 21st century classroom, at one point in time each of these teaching tools had been at the cutting edge of educational technology.
Now more than ever, educators are highly dependent on the technological tools their students use in their everyday lives in order to help them learn. We can use personal computing devices and the Internet to create a paperless classroom. Those same devices can help us keep track of our busy schedules as well as remind students about their academic responsibilities. An LCD projector and YouTube can take your class on a virtual field trip around the globe.
While some educators enjoy the challenge of keeping up with the latest tools that our digital native students seem to use without a second thought, others long for the “old days” of computerless classrooms. I recently polled several well-known technophobe teachers at my school to find out why they don’t like to use digital tools in their practice, and the answers I received fell in line with what many other teachers who disliked using technology in school. To some, adding technology is a bother and chore; why should they add more work to their already busy schedules? Others are not comfortable using technology overall; they are afraid they are “too old” to use digital tools. While I received a few other responses, these were the replies that came up most often.
How can we assist our technophobe colleagues become more open to trying out digital tools in the classroom? One piece of advice is to remind them that what was once a seemingly indispensable teaching tool such as an overhead projector was once a new technology piece in educational practice, and there were educators just like them who were reluctant to use it. Additionally, familiarity breeds comfort; the more technology is used in practice, the less of a chore it becomes.
Most importantly, teachers who routinely use digital tools must share why they find it relevant to integrate technology into their practice. They need to reassure educators who are reluctant to using digital tools that even though some of their lessons might fail, there are tech-savvy teachers who are available to help them retool their lessons so they can be a classroom success. Educators who are proficient in using technology in their lessons need to step up as leaders and offer assistance to those who are not as inclined to use digital tools. By helping others use digital tools, they can help create a more enjoyable, positive classroom environment for both teachers and students.
Today's post comes to us from the wonderful Amy Scammerhorn. MS. Scamerhorn is a Spanish teacher at Pike High School. She received a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education with a Focus on Technology from IUPUI. In her time away from the classroom, Amy enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.