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Friday
Jun052015

Are teachers really change resistant?

In a great post, IMHO or Why Give Constructive Criticism, Kathy Schrock writes:

As I read along in a chapter about change, I came across the line. “Everyone knows that teachers, especially, are resistant to change.” Hold on! This book was written for educators– why dis' them in the text? And who is “everyone” and why are teachers more resistant to change than anyone in a different profession?

Kathy's question brought me up short. A pretty common complaint among tech "enthusiasts" is that teachers really don't want to try new things. I suspect for many there is an unspoken judgement that this means teachers are cowardly, lazy, or smug. Were they not one of these things, shouldn't they want to change?

I don't have a lot of experience outside of education, having worked in (mostly) public schools for my whole career. But my best guess is teachers are no more or less change resistant than those in any field and I base this knowing that the "Diffusion of Innovation" model has been around for over 50 years and was not based on the teaching profession, but agriculture change practices. The profession falls along this curve with those who are enthusiastic about change working beside the "rocks."

Rogers Bell Curve of the Adoption Cycle

As widely accepted as this model is, shouldn't we conclude that all professions have practitioners within them that fall in each section of the curve. Doctors, farmers, engineers, homemakers, librarians, and truck drivers all have innovators and laggards in their respective fields?

Among my tech director colleagues I see both resisters and innovators as well. Just because one is in the technology field doesn't mean that he or she is a big change agent. (Any of your schools still using GroupWise for email?)

Unwarranted assumptions about any profession to me seems counter productive. Thanks, Kathy, for making me think about this a bit...

Wednesday
Jun032015

@yourlibrary slogans not recommended by ALA

In visiting with a friend about library marketing, I thought of this old list composed by a group of grown men, but with adolescent minds at a marketing retreat many years ago...

Top Ten @ your library slogans not recommended by AASL
10. fool the security system @ your library
9. find books that don't suck @ your library
8. pull the fire alarm @ your library
7. surf for porn @ your library
6. take a nap @ your library
5. download a term paper @ your library
4. wedgies @ your library
3. scan your butt @ your library
2. hack and chat @ your library

and the number one @ your library slogan not recommended by AASL:

1. get lucky in the stacks @ your library
                                                           Thanks to Rocco Staino, Terry Young, and Carl Harvey for their professional expertise in creating this list.

Creative minds, please add yours..

Monday
Jun012015

When tech is a cheap substitute

The 1990 Technology & Learning article above tries to predict the future of educational technology. One memorable call-out was this one by Tom Snyder:

Hmmm, the poor kids will have computers and the rich kids will have human teachers?

The mirror image of most educational technology history.

Yet nearly all of the predictions in this T&L article have come true. Granted it's taken significantly longer to get "dynabooks" in kids hands and computers in watches than the experts predicted, but all-in-all the article was spot on.

I think of Snyder's prediction above quite often when exploring the relationship of cultural proficiency and technology. While most often, I see technology as a great equalizer (See The Culturally Proficient Technologist in Ed Leadership), I also recognize that technology can exacerbate inequities in opportunity as well - as Mr. Snyder so eloquently states.

When I read educational technology scold, cynic, and watchdog Audrey Watters's blog post "Virtual Field Trips and Education (Technology) Inequities", it brought me back to Snyder's prediction.

But let's be honest: virtual field trips are not field trips. Oh sure, they might provide educational content. They might, as Google’s newly unveiled “Expeditions” cardboard VR tool promises, boast "360° photo spheres, 3D images and video, ambient sounds -- annotated with details, points of interest and questions that make them easy to integrate into curriculum already used in schools." But virtual field trips do not offer physical context; they do not offer social context. Despite invoking the adjective “immersive,” they most definitely are not.

As I see more and more "tier 2" and "tier 3" interventions becoming digital, it's pretty easy to detect how some kids will be receiving instruction via technology while other kids get human teachers. In the long run silicon is cheap; people are expensive. Putting kids in front of computer screens in lieu of putting them with human, caring, and skillful "warmware" is a tragedy.

Check it out - who gets the most access to tech in your school - parked in front of programmed learning activities - and who gets one-on-one with a real teacher?