Digital Foreigners

Question: What suggestions do you have for working with teachers who just don’t want to use their PC?

The IT Guy says:
Marc Prensky has written about our schools being composed now of digital natives (the students) and digital immigrants (most, if not all of, their teachers). A third category also exists and may even be prevalent in some school settings: the digital foreigner. This teacher does not want to use technology, and will not (by choice) use it.

The two best suggestions I have for working with reluctant teachers is to have a technology integration coach or mentor work directly with that teacher to develop a lesson using technology about a favorite curricular topic of that teacher. The coach should help design the lesson, and either in the computer lab or in a classroom using a cart of wireless laptops, serve as a demonstration teacher and co-teacher for the other teacher during the lesson. The second best suggestion is for the principal to expect technology use and include it on the annual review of teacher performance. If technology use is regarded as something optional, not valued and required by the campus principal, teachers are much more likely to stick with their traditional ways of doing things. If the principal is leading the campus in the use of technology, sending teachers Email messages and requiring timely responses, requiring that teachers submit grades on the computer, etc, then chances are higher that teachers will use their technology.

The types of technology use described above are really at the low level of the Levels of Technology Implementation, or LoTi scale. Principals and other teachers should seek to build a supportive culture that focuses more on higher level thinking and problem solving strategies rather than strictly technology use, according to Dr. Chris Moersch, developer of the LoTi framework.

It is my belief that any good teacher will seek to use any tool available to help engage students, help them learn better, and acquire the literacy skills they will need for future success. Sadly, we have many teachers in our schools who are not passionate about teaching and learning, and do not want to try anything new. These teachers can best be convinced of the power of technology to engage students by seeing it happen before their eyes: by experiencing it, and by having their own peers (rather than the campus technologist of the principal) try to convince them of the benefits. For more suggestions about technology leadership, refer to the series of videos from the Texas Technology Leadership Academy, available for free at Online Video Clips.

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