Monday, July 9, 2012

Integrating Technology - #fail

Chimpanzees use many different tools, such as "dipping" for ants or termites using a stick, using a leaf as a sponge and using a stick as a weapon.
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While some are arguing about the expression "integrating technology," I wish we could get past it. Information literacy seems a poor motivator for folks. While information problem-solving catches the attention of some (like librarians), others clearly do not find it relevant to what happens in schools. In short, information literacy/problem-solving is used to advocate technology use in schools. Let's be honest (gee, how many times has this been said?)--Technology integration efforts have failed.

Whether the failure is due because technology has been "layered on" or because technology is seen as a complex tool that just can't be used by teachers, tech integration has failed. While technology has been helpful in working with content knowledge, information, technology helps amplify the human voice in ways just not possible without it. Now that we've acknowledged this, let's get back to the important things. What? Ok...let's get back to relevancy and the here-n-now. Here's an example...

Chimps use sticks to meet an immediate need. Yet, even if they've been trained to use new tools, they conform to the leader or the group. This doesn't seem so different from people. Young teachers are using technology in their homes, developing a high level of personal computer use. But whether that technology is used in classrooms depends on the culture of the school. Organizations that lack effective leadership in regards to using technology just won't see individuals using it. Put another way, our culture determines adoption of technology. organizations where communications are open and information is freely shared, IT interventions will be viewed as an extension of existing practices and they will therefore be more readily accepted and assimilated.
Source: Key Organizational and HR Factors for Rapid Technology Assimilation
Effective leadership is key. If the leader believes in advocating for change, building a supportive network--something made all the more powerful because of Web 2.0 tools--then change can take place.

Consider this quote: of the most enriching and sustaining factors for reform was "the principals' capacity to facilitate and empower teachers with a network of technical knowledge that connected them one to the other in pursuit of a common ideal"
Source: Effective Leadership
The role of leaders is about establishing relevancy, whether that is self-imposed ("I value technology use because it will make our children's lives better.") or arises from the community ("Our children need to know how to use technology because we live in a world that is flat") or business ("We need graduates to be ready for the global economy and that means this and that!") or from teachers ("our students can use technology to enhance their level of motivation, their level of 'Wow, ain't this great?'").

I like Beth Knittle's (blog) point of view on this:
For many schools people still need to know what type of machines or infrastructure is needed or that there is even a need. The ‘powers that be’ still need to be convinced that literacy skills have changed and that these new skills need to be taught. Teachers need to be able to get into the computer lab more then once a month. There is a need for more computers and labs, one to one, for many is a fantasy. It is about helping teachers to break out of the mold and rut that has been laid before them.
Yep, it's not about technology or information. It's not about the perception of what the workforce needs, or the new skills critical to survival in the 21st Century. It comes down to helping people break out of the mold and rut before them, to look up from the slow, plodding steps they are forced to take as they drag that irregular chunk of curriculum, out-dated beliefs, and old best practices behind them.
Chimps use sticks. How is our technology use in schools more deliberate than their use?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The spinning wheel, invented in China, traveled across Asia to Europe at a speed of roughly a mile a year. Even though it caused a boom in the clothmaking industry wherever it appeared, a lot of people just didn't take to the technology right away. It was hard to build, and get working just right — the users needed to abandon drop-spindle skills to learn the new tool, and it DOES have a significant learning curve. I wonder if the reason why it didn't take off faster is that older women and men simply refused to learn the new technology, while the younger boys and girls learned it, as well as the drop-spindle method, and then taught ONLY spinning wheel to their kids...

Which means, we're looking at another two generations of teachers in our schools before computers really "catch on" and become 'integrated' into curriculum ... Because we'll have to wait for the current 2nd and 3rd graders to be old enough to be teacher-leaders and prinicpals, at least.

The Courage to Lead