I want to talk a bit today about teachers in this age of technology. Because I come from a family of educators I am privileged be acquainted with people that know a lot about teachers and technology. So, in order to be a part of their conversations I read blogs and books from experts in the field.
Today I was reading David Warlick’s blog, 2 Cents Worth. The post on September 2 was called Teachers and Technology – A Rant. I couldn’t help but be struck by how the general population, including teachers, are so afraid of the technology that is coming their way. Education sometimes moves very slowly and many ideas are not new but old ones reinvented (memes perhaps). Technology goes so fast that by the time you learn to create a podcast, for example, it is out of date and something new has taken its place. Some teachers embrace the change and actually teach for it. And others just refuse to change unless they see that the trend is here to stay. Hence the slow moving!
So when teachers, those people that are experts on technology, and people like you and me are finding that the information they can get online may not be as well researched or as reliable as they would like, educational progress slows a bit. Or when children lay eyes on something suspect, a fire wall is built.
The slowing and a firewall is a problem but even more problematic is the misgivings we all have about doing research online. A Google search may give you wonderful and insightful information or it may give you a lot of opinions without basis. Wikipedia is always suspect because it is written by people like you and me. You can view the source of the information and make a judgement based on that information. They conversation that the information we are using may not be reliable strikes me as very interesting. It does not matter whether is was research inside the walls of a library or online. We have always needed to “consider the source” when we did our research. In fact, text books and reference books may also be influenced by the writer, region of origination and the publisher. Yes, I believe publishers have an agenda too. For example, we all know that in certain countries, text books are written to suit the culture and belief system of the citizens. What makes us think that this is not occurring in the United States? It should be realized that a source from a religious institution may have a different take on information than that from a science department in a college. Science does not always have the last word! History of events are written differently depending on who the audience is going to be. I think that if we were to read the history of the war in Iraq we would find that an Iraqi would have a considerably different way of discribing events than say, an American conservative think tank writer. And so it goes.
So teachers and experts and this blogger are careful. However, when innovative and creative teacher become careful, there is that segment of teachers, experts and bloggers that are so fearful, timid, adventurephobic that they are frozen. Their own personal experience and the experience of students and teachers that they touch are suffering in that deep freeze!
And in the general population there are so many people that are “fire walled” in and cannot even do the things they need to do on their computers. Many people won’t even visit a blog because they 1) don’t understand what it even is, 2) are afraid that they will get a terrible virus from one 3) won’t comment because they don’t want to be quoted even anonymously 4) or perhaps their fire wall won’t let them.
Okay I’m done.
*note, Incidentally, Jeff had to go to China and work for Shanghai American Schools to get to do the things with technology he is now doing. Very interesting!