Educators need learning advocacy, not technology advocacy
I’m asking for a simple change in mindset and approach:
Ed tech advocate: We should use Skype!
Learning advocate: We should connect our kids with other schools around the globe so they can have diverse conversations and learn with instead of learn about other cultures.
Ed tech advocate: We should blog!
Learning advocate: We should connect our kids to readers around the world so they begin to understand the connective nature of writing.
Ed tech advocate: We should use Google Docs to go paperless!
Learning advocate: My students need better ways to transparently revise and share their work with more than just one partner in the classroom.
I think the Ed tech advocate has run its course. Not sure there was a big need in the first place. I know I fell in the trap for a while of being tech-hungry and it set me back as a teacher. Now I focus on learning.
You’ve written about how teachers shouldn’t be let off the hook for knowing about, using, and learning the new tools. I agree to an extent. The problem is that “Ed tech advocacy” has not just given them an excuse not to, it has given them a crutch. Why do any thinking when someone else will do it for me? Teachers are professionals. Ed tech advocates have treated them like babies by focusing on tools. Show us the advanced learning that can take place and we’ll learn what needs to be learned to get at that higher-level learning with our kids.
Here’s my response: Maybe.
There are an awful lot of teachers (and administrators) out there who
- aren’t interested – despite our best hopes otherwise and despite the urgent need to adapt to a digital/global era - because the current model is comfortable; and/or
- believe they can’t because of “the tests” (a claim for which I’m skeptical for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that we already did low-level instruction with kids before “the tests”); and/or
- believe they can’t because of other reasons.
Also, I’m not sure how compelling or urgent the reframes that Russ lists above are for most teachers/administrators. After all, if we’re honest with our assessment of our local situations, most of us will recognize that the vast bulk of the educators in our systems probably have no idea what those reframes really mean. In other words, educators who are not already immersed in ‘connective writing’ or ‘global conversations’ themselves likely are not going to understand what we mean by those concepts and thus will not feel them as a strong pull to change practice.
I agree with Russ that we “technology advocates” should be focused on selling the learning, not just the technologies. But I’m more skeptical than he is, perhaps, that those learning outcomes will be strong pulls - pulls that are strong enough to drive urgency and change practice - for many (most?) educators. What do you think?