You are certain to enjoy today’s guest post from Neven Jurkovic. He has written a letter for all tech-fearing teachers and has done so in a positive and motivating way. So, for today’s post in this month’s tech series, consider how you might use his ideas and words to coax a colleague or even yourself! ~EMP
Dear Technophobic Teacher,
Thanks for taking a few moments to read this letter. As you’ll soon see, I wanted to write to you today to discuss three of the main concerns I’ve heard you mention about technology in schools.
Quote #1: “The kids will learn technology whether we teach it or not, so why waste our time on it?”
I’m glad you brought this up. I agree that it seems like our students are using technology even without our help – for example, we often see them texting on their phones once school is out, don’t we? But there’s a big difference between knowing how to use technology for entertainment purposes and for educational purposes. The New York Times went so far as to call this difference the “new digital divide.” So you’re right that they’ll learn how to make Facebook accounts and watch YouTube videos without our help, but will they know how to use technology powerfully to enhance their education? Without instruction in that area, I’d argue that many won’t.
I’ll grant you this: If we spend all of our time teaching specific tools or websites, you’re right, there’s a real chance that we’ll have wasted our time. But the point of integrating technology into the classroom is not to teach students how to use Prezi, for example, but rather how to use multimedia to present their learning. Our technology goals should be broader than any specific app or site: things like teaching students how to search for information effectively, how to use technology as a collaboration and communication tool, and how to become a digital citizen will have value for many, many years to come.
Quote #3: “We didn’t have much technology in schools when I was growing up, and we turned out just fine.”
The world has changed. Technology has made its way into a huge percentage of the jobs for which your current students will be applying. Employers will be looking for people with technology skills in an ever-widening array of careers. It’s up to us to help our students to gain those skills now. You may have turned out just fine without much technology in your K-12 education, but many of our students will find themselves at a significant disadvantage in the workplace if they don’t have significant access to technology throughout their K-12 education.
Before I end this letter, here’s a final thought: You don’t have to transform your classroom overnight. Start small, try one thing at a time, and allow yourself to learn the technology with (or even from) your students. Also, just because your students all have tech devices with them every day, it’s still OK to tell them to turn them off sometimes. Ubiquitous access to technology is a powerful thing, but it doesn’t mean they need to be using technology every minute of every day. You’re still in charge – no need to worry about that.
About the Author:
Neven Jurkovic’s interest in teaching mathematics with technology developed while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Southwest Texas State University. Apart from publishing a number of papers on the application of artificial intelligence in elementary mathematics problem solving, Neven is the creator of Algebrator, a widely used math tutoring software. Currently, he lives in San Antonio, TX and is the CEO of Softmath: http://softmath.com/