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« Apology to tech directors | Main | Being funny »
Sunday
Dec112005

The Teacher’s Technology Manifesto

(A short riff on an earlier posting "When Techies Don't Get It.")

Dear Technology Director:
I will enthusiastically embrace technology only when the following conditions have been met:

  1. Teaching students technology skills is a priority.  Until the high-stakes tests and state standards require that I teach technology skills, I will focus my teaching efforts on what is tested and mandated. Our school board goals are all about reading, writing and math. Until my bosses tell me technology skills are important, I will not spend a week in a lab teaching with technology something I can teach in a day with paper and pencil.
  2. Technology use is supported by research showing it is more effective in teaching skills than traditional methods. Until there is unbiased research that shows I can more effectively teach basic and content area skills using technology than traditional methods, I will not change my teaching methods. I will continue to advocate for school budgets be spent on smaller class sizes, better library programs, art and music programs, and services for special needs students.
  3. Technology in my school is reliable, adequate, and secure. I use the telephone, the overhead projector and the VCR in my classroom because I can count on them working. I will not use computers, LCD projectors, and the Internet unless they work 99% of the time. And if you ask me to create lesson plans for when the technology works and when it doesn’t, I will dope slap you. If I have 30 children in my class, I need 30 computers actually working in the lab. And effective means to reduce my worries about online stranger-danger and inappropriate websites.
  4. Technology use is proven to be safe and developmentally appropriate. Science just doesn’t know the impact of staring at computer screens or using keyboards on small human beings. We do know childhood obesity is on the rise because too many children are inactive. Please let me know when playing with blocks on the screen is proven as beneficial as playing with blocks on the floor.
  5. Technology comes with support people with interpersonal skills. I am neither a child nor an idiot nor a fool. Don’t treat me like one. Let me run my own mouse when learning something even if it takes a little longer. Use English when explaining something and tell me only what I need to know. And cut out the cute asides like calling a problem an SUD (Stupid User Dysfunction). I have a Master’s degree. I also need timely technical support. If I have to wait three days to get my computer working again, I will develop a negative attitude.
  6. Technology comes with effective training. Classes about a technology that I might someday use taught by an instructor who hasn’t been near a classroom recently are worthless. Teach me in a small group about the things I want and need to do today to be effective. And how about a little follow-up? We are finding Professional Learning Communities effective in implementing other kinds of pedagogical change. Take a hint.
  7. Technology is a genuine time-saver. I will not learn to use technology to make someone else’s job easier. I resent having to login three times to get to an application, especially when the usernames and passwords are all long and impossible to remember. I understand the importance of security – but it needs to be balanced with convenience.
Two pieces of advice:
Make sure a committee made up of a wide-range of stake-holders develops technology plans, budgets and policies. You want me to use technology, give the users a say in how it is used, deployed and controlled.

Remember that as a teacher, I consider myself first a child-advocate, second an educator, and only third a technology-user. You might consider thinking of yourself in those terms as well.

_____________________

Classroom teachers and librarians, what else needs to happen before all teachers embrace technology? 

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References (1)

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  • Response
    I’ve just read Doug Johnson’s “The Teacher’s Technology Manifesto“. He writes passionately, and I’ve got really carried away reading it. Here goes my reply... Thanks, Doug, for having helped me think so much about this issue!

Reader Comments (9)

Given my position as co-director of CASTLE, of course I'm struck by the fact that most of the issues you list here can be remedied by capable (not even visionary) leadership. Usually this has to occur above the Tech Coordinator role, however. I know a lot of tech coordinators who would love to be able to solve these problems themselves but are hamstringed by insufficient vision / funding / staffing / support by district-level leadership. This all just emphasizes the need for programs such as ours all over the country!
December 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterScott McLeod
Hi Scott,

I agree wholeheartedly.

In Minnesota, though, even superintendents, curriculum directors and school boards are tied to state standards and assessments - which don't mention technology/information literacy standards. We are one of only 4 states that don't have them.

This is why I've worked hard to make sure MEMO has included the adoption of IL/Tech standards as a platform plank during each legislative session - much to the dismay of our lobbyist and the DOE. If standards are in place, I've argued, funding, staffing, PD etc. fall in place. If the state does not have such standards, it's up to each district to adopt them, and this just won't happen in many, many places. I certainly have worked here in Mankato for the board to make IL/Tech literacy a board goal, but so far without much success.

Anything you can do in your leadership capacity to have these important, 21st century skills acknowledged as important by our legislative leaders would be very helpful.

Thanks and all the best,

Doug
December 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson
Be sure to read Gladys's reference above. Very thoughtful.

Doug
January 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

http://henrythiele.blogspot.com/2007/09/two-sides-of-tech.html

I was inspired...

September 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHank Thiele

Thanks, Hank. I enjoyed your comments very much.

I agree that having spent the first 15 years of my career in a classroom or school library give one cred and a necessary perspective.

Doug

September 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I have just come across this unbelievable - technology is the future and you just sound like a typical backward teacher who is stuck in his ways. We want our pupils to take chances and try new things but appears you are not ready to embrace them? Stick with your VCR and overhead projector and hold your pupils back. Very sad. I hope your ideas have changed it is now 2011.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDamian

Hi Damian,

I'm genuinely curious about which of these requests you find it unreasonable for a teacher to make.

Doug

September 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

1,2,3,4 & 5.
Point 1 - when pupils leave school they likely to need to be able to use ICT (regardless of whether they work 100% of the time) and you seem to be indicating that you will only let them use it if exams/tests are requiring those skills.
Point 2 - you are waiting until research shows the impact of ICT! The world is not flat - imagine people didn't believe until they see the world is not flat! I can't believe you in your position don't see the benefits of using ICT - you are using a blog and getting the benefit of being in contact with people all around the world.
Point 3 - I use a computer every single day and I believe I have had 2 instances in the last year where I have not been able to use what I wanted to in front of a class. That is better than 99% of the time, and I can't believe your computer lets you down that much? On the point "If I have 30 children in my class, I need 30 computers actually working in the lab" -yes that would be nice - but if I have 29 computers working - 2 students share. In industry/business you will not always have your own equipment and in sharing they will be developing communication skills plus other skills. So you will not let pupils use computers unless you have one each - that is surely punishing them and not allowing them to chance to express themselves in ways they will use when they leave school. The safe environment is a good point but a weak reason - you are responsible for them so monitor them.
Point 4 - unbelievable.
Point 5 - so you have had a bad experience with someone helping you with a computer problem - change point 5 to I need timely intervention with an experience technician.

If I am honest Doug I think this is a very negative manifesto of someone stuck in the dark ages - " I use the telephone, the overhead projector and the VCR in my classroom because I can count on them working" - VCR (come on) DVD at least. I am a maths teacher who could not bring some of my topics to life without a computer and digital projector. A science teacher with an interactive body on screen where they can rotate, zoom in, highlight, visualise body functions - these are all possible by using ICT. You can't do this with an overhead projector and a VCR. Sorry if I have caused offense I just get very frustrated that this a view few some teachers have and won't use technology and teach from a text book.

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDamian

Hi Damian,

I appreciate the response. I can only say we work with different teachers working under different sets of constraints and in different technology environments. Even ISTE recognizes that there need to be "essential conditions" present for technology to be well-used and I will stand by these as essential conditions that reasonable teachers should expect.

I find it "unbelievable" that you don't recognize a lack of development research on tech and kids as a genuine concern that educators should share.

Anyway, if you want the last word, go ahead and we'll leave this exchange at your next response.

Good luck,

Doug

September 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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