It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.…remember the well-loved book by Dickenson? The historical fiction text set in the times of Revolutionary France? London and Paris. Much alike, but yet very different? So it goes with the classrooms highlighted in the two articles (except without all the drama, revolts, characters) in Enticing Teachers to Try Technology, by Lois Cox and HOT Blogging by Lisa Zawilinski.
Both articles explain the direct ways in which teachers explore the new (at least to the teachers) world of technology integration. Stephanie, a literacy teacher decided to use blogs to teach children several new “literacies” through technology. The art teacher used a digital drawing program. Both seemed to be pleased with the results. More importantly, however, both teachers reported that their children were genuinely engaged in the process. It seems that the teachers were successful in their endeavors. It was wonderful to read about how technology was actually integrated, used to create (the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy), not simply used as tool to gather information. This is where the tale of Paris and London split. My concern is specific to the environment in which the two teachers work.
Although the general school environment is not directly discussed in the HOT blog article, Zawilinski gives one detail that hints at the general support system that exist within the school. She explains that Stephanie met with a technology support specialist for one hour. In comparison, the art teacher was part of a technology integration program that appeared to be well supported by the entire school. Teachers had to prove that they were committed to the process, identify how the technology was going to be used , and show how new learning would occur through the use of the equipment. Teachers also had to set goals for the technology they wanted. In return the school gave teachers clear expectations as to what would be required and then gave the needed support to encourage success including technology support and training. More importantly, a mentor was provided to observe the teachers and provide constructive feedback. Success in this instance was not accidental, left to a whim or the work ethic of individual teachers, but was intentional.
Stephanie found success in her initial project, and should be commended for her dedication. The future of her endeavors to fully engage children in new literacies are in question, simply because of the apparent lack of the support. Does she have the needed support to expand or development new ideas for technology use in literacy? From my experience, this would be doubtful.
Too often we are not provided with technology, or worse yet, provided with technology without training. This ultimately leads to students using technology as a way to “get” information, not create it.
Unlike Dickinson’s tale, I am sure that as teachers, we will not play the martyr for a symbolic gesture of a promise, but we can all play a part in a quiet intellectual revolution in requiring the necessary support for using technology effectively in the classroom.