Will at Weblogg-Ed is thinking hard about implementing weblogs in his school in a big way. He’s got lots of help, but schools and systems like his are not the norm.
Contrast: A former GSU professor, highly skilled in using technology in her science education curriculum, visited us today. We heard about the College of Education faculty at her new university, about their skills and expectations, and about how much the faculty leaves up to the secretaries. She asked a colleague for a copy of a syllabus, and was told, “Well, the secretary isn’t here yet.” The instructor didn’t have a copy of her own syllabus on her own PC. Handouts to students are copies of copies of copies, difficult to read and so smeared that OCR software can’t do anything with it. “You’d spend two and a half hours retyping that just to hand out to students?”, she was asked. Well, duh!
The task of implementing technology successfully, to impart skills and enhance learning, remains an uphill struggle in so much of the country. Classroom teachers feel the pressure to teach to the test, and learning and teaching new technology skills becomes yet another administrative burden to many of them. On the college level, education students are mandated to graduate with specific technology proficiency levels, and some of their instructors aren’t up to speed on them either.
Some of these professors see this as a burden, and often we teach their students technology skills in special single-class workshops, and these professors don’t stay to learn the technology themselves. Further, the professors sometimes don’t integrate the requisite technology into the class sufficiently, so it’s just a one-shot, enough to put something in the portfolio but insufficient for the students to really learn the skill enough to use it as a tool. It’s another form of teaching to the test.
This is the slower going part of the process. The energetic early adopters are already on their way, and we are now working with those who don’t immediately see the benefit and those to whom the technology is more intimidating. Our teaching strategies have to slow down, take account of the different learning styles of adults, and keep plugging away, while keeping up with the ever-changing progress of the technology we’re teaching.
I love my job. Not just in spite of all this, but because of all this. We’re all part of a huge experiment; we’re making it up as we go along, and in doing so, we’re making history. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.——-