“What do you mean technology in schools won’t work?” I was having a discussion with a college professor 12 years ago one summer day. His cynicism, for that’s what I perceived it as, marred his leadership and humor. For him, the research clearly showed that technology integration was a failed strategy. I certainly believed that technology could transform teaching, learning and leading.
And, when I read about Twitterbees swarming around new ideas, the concepts of PLNs, etc., it’s clear that for many, technology CAN shift how each of us learns and collaborates. That aside though, school systems resist change. Although new technologies find their way into schools, they don’t necessarily result in the desired change:
Individual change resistance is the refusal of a social agent (a single person, organization, corporation, etc) to fully support or adopt new behavior. Systemic change resistance is the tendency for a system as a whole to reject an attempted change, even if that change is promoted over a long period of time by a substantial fraction of the population. That’s what’s happening in the sustainability problem, so when we say “change resistance” we usually mean systemic change resistance. Source: Change Resistance
Through crucial confrontations and conversations, I believe we can see individuals change. In truth, though, those who won’t change or who actively resist change, as one principal put it to me, “should be encouraged to exit.” But I often find that resistance isn’t about an individual, rather, a system that fights back.
Over 20 years ago, I was introduced to the Levels of Technology Implementation (LOTI), a Concerns-based Adoption Model (CBAM) approach that took a hard look at technology integration in schools. I haven’t seen anything better or more comprehensive since Dr. Chris Moersch introduced me to these ideas in Edgewood ISD, while teaching 6th grade bilingual at a school where the Mr. Demetrio Rodriguez–made famous by the legal case that names him–would often put in an appearance. Even then, CBAM and LOTI clearly outlined the kinds of fundamental changes we needed to see.
Although the LOTI remains today, folks–as in The Importance of Change Management in Facilitating Instructional Technology Adoption (Kelly Walsh)–continue to hearken back to the original articles like this one, Implementing Technology in Schools, published in 1991:
The effective technology coordinator needs to understand curriculum, principles of staff development, organizational development, good pedagogy, and be especially skilled in understanding human dynamics…The technology coordinator needs to understand good pedagogy in order to assist teachers in being able to use technology to support and improve a good instructional program.
When I reflect on my years of serving in my role as instructional technologist, or technology coordinator, I see where this argument has gone wrong. While well-intentioned, it is plain wrong.
These days, when I wake up in the morning, I try to ask myself, What am I doing differently? What can I help others do differently? While I fear that different isn’t always better, I’d rather not be caught up in the quicksand of yesteryear.
Here’s how I’d revise that advice about technology in schools:
- Curriculum specialists need to take advantage of any and all technologies for facilitating teaching and learning.
- Adult learners need to organize and connect with each other to build their own learning networks that are independent yet collaborative with school district PD efforts.
- Pedagogy is only good if it employs the latest technologies that make learning possible in ways that were previously impossible without it.
- A “good” instructional program isn’t one that teaches children how to learn the way we did, but rather, helps children learn in ways our teaching can only suggest.
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