• On the Precipice of Change: 3 Obstacles to Technology Use in K-12

    • We are often stopped by obstacles that we perceive. Warren Greshes’ shares that for most people, there are 3 obstacles that they just cannot get around (Source: Read More) .

    • Those obstacles include 1) Fear of failure; 2) Other People telling you that it can’t be done; and 3) Old habits that keep us back. As I reflect on the question, and Warren Greshes’ 3 obstacles, I had to ask myself, what are some perceptions that stop the bulk of Texas educators from integrating technology into their work? We all know that there are individual successes, but what about the rest?

    • Greshes shares that fear of failure is the “single biggest obstacle to our success.” In Instructional Technology, it may very well be defined as fear of trying to use new—or even old—technologies in the classroom.

    • Some might characterize these new technologies in this way:

      The next crop of terrorists are still at school, preparing for their SAT tests. They are probably bright, politically disinterested and easily susceptible to the ideology of the Read/Write Web. They receive a daily diet of anti-school establishment propaganda through Web 2.0 and so-called social networking websites. Young children of immigrants still at school are among those linked to guerilla conspiracies.

      The path from adolescent dreamer interested in moblogs to flash mob radicals ready to engage in peaceful school walkouts to immigration issues and posting embarrassing videos of irrelevant teachers on YouTube can be frighteningly short. Web 2.0 guerilla-teachers are looking to groom and brainwash our children as advocates for passionate action, conflict over harmony, transparency over invulnerability, and commitment to virtual friends, and real life strangers. The teenblogosphere is without restraint.

    • Yet, perched on the precipice of change, administrators and teachers have a different perception of what is keeping them from integrating technology. What is that different perception? What are the obstacles that keep schools from integrating technology?

    • Mark Ahlness

    • We cannot not surround and change the educational technology establishment by external force. And we do not have the time or patience to quietly play by the rules of that establishment, hoping somebody will eventually notice….

    • We will not go away nor shut up. We are guerillas in their midst.
      Source: http://www.ahlness.com/

      • It’s so easy for other people, Greshen points out, to keep one down, to push you down a path that is more convenient for them. For those that find daily mind-changing exchanges too confrontational, heart-attack inducing, these 3 strategies might be more effective:

        1. Build successful instructional practices in your classroom, enabling your students to do that which will make them shine. Focus on enhancing the power of their voices, gathering work that proves they are ahead instructionally and reflects their technological expertise. Use whatever is necessary.
        2. Once you have a body of student work, ask if you can celebrate that work by sharing it in the hallway, online via a web page (blog or otherwise), and share it with parents via newsletters (also online and/or paper). The goal is to get their voices out there as loud as possible…once you have a “bully pulpit,” then you can advocate for change.
        3. Fly below the radar on all projects until your students’ success becomes apparent to all.

    • These four points could easily translate into obstacles I could share.

    • Point #1 – Inability to accomplish change in the adoption of technology innovations that impact teaching and learning.

    • There seemed to be so many factors in educational settings, factors I had little control over in my “non-positional” area of authority, that I felt unable to achieve systemic change. I was the Jurassic Park mosquito caught in the amber. Or, as a venerable elementary school principal once put it, “a skeeter in a nudist colony,” unsure of where to strike first.

    • How does one address the reluctance 1) on the part of district administrators to incorporate technology in meaningful ways to the scope and sequence, 2) of curriculum specialists to learn how to use technology to redesign their own teaching of adult learners, 3) of campus teachers and administrators failing to use online technology textbooks, 4) competing elements within the curriculum department that chase after technology solutions without putting a plan together to ensure successful implementation?

    • Point #2 – Inability to mandate/require professional development for teachers, and provide incentives for achievement of professional development objectives, that directly impact teaching.
      With the inability to mandate professional development, and lacking the funding to provide incentives, professional development in the area of technology suffers.

    • Point #3 – Lack of budget sufficient to establish ubiquitous access to hardware and software teachers need to redesign their teaching environments. School districts continue to use proprietary software tools to accomplish their instructional objectives, even though free open source software (FOSS) offers a powerful alternative. One teacher characterized the lack in this way: “There are tons of open-source offerings, but having the staff on hand and available to get it installed and running is a struggle when the district budget does not show any importance in that area.”

    • we are on the precipice of change. How we navigate the change will be a testament to our ability to overcome our fear of failure, as well as let nay-sayers know that while they may not be able to get the job done, they don’t know Texans! It’s a long, tough journey, but onward, if not forward, is the only way possible. Perhaps, we need to consider what Diane Quirk writes in her blog, Technology to Empower Student Learning:

    • The challenge for us as educators is to examine our practices in terms of being either obstacles or conduits to the learning of our students.

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