Monday, January 08, 2007

How much ed tech do teachers need to know? ( a rxn)

In this Blue Skunk Blog post entitled "Just How Much do Teachers need to Know About Technology" Doug Johnson (Director of Media and Tech at the Mankato Public Schools) is concerned that ed tech trainers may need to spend more time reflecting on what is essential and avoiding what is confusing during staff development. He refers to the annoying uber-wonk, that we are all too familiar with, as the "Alpha Wolf" due to their need to flaunt their superior intellect.

While I can't argue with this idea, I do feel some reactions bubbling up from this post.

1st- Educational technology staff development should be about creating better teachers. Whether or not they know the origin of the acronym "URL" is irrelevant. Will the ed tech staff development session offer them ideas that will make them better teachers, with their specific kids, in their specific setting? This should be the ultimate assessment

2nd- Many of the frustrated reactions that teachers share via informal body language, rude comments or (in the worst case scenario) thrown objects are often the result of the disconnect of the "expert" from the classroom teacher. It isn't that they aren't organized, but it is that they really have no idea what great science, language arts, or math teaching looks or feels like...but "boy do they have a technology solution for you!" The reluctant veteran teachers are then labeled recalcitrant Luddites. Poor alpha wolf. :-(

3rd- As it relates to the "omnivore's dilemma" and the depth of knowledge necessary, I don't want a great reading teacher worrying about why the ISDN line works or the origin of Spam. I want them to have the tools they need to entrance kids with wonderful lessons that encourage them to be life long learners. This is where their focus should be, not on why the tech around them is not working.

I probably just woke up on the wrong side of the lap top. Let me know what you think.

Jim Forde :-)


Doug Johnson said...

HI Jim,

I left a reply over on my blog at:

I appreciate your comments!


Jim Forde said...

Here is my response to Doug's response..

Hi There!

Thanks for this thoughtful and respectful response. I WAS being a bit narrow in my definition and it may be due to my assumption that many teachers already have the basic skills and are chomping at the bit for level 3. I may have also seen too many level 1 and 2 workshops and not enough related to the art of teaching. This posting certainly has me thinking.

I particularly like the point you made about solving something quickly yourself and getting back to business. I also agree with you that web page creation is relevant to teachers and that it is essential that teachers know how to maintain one. I don't know if raw html or javascript skills would be necessary.(.....but would be nice to know)

Thanks for tolerating my earlier post. I hope this thread grows so I can continue to learn more from additional posts.

Jim Forde :-)