The beauty of educational technology (EdTech) is also it’s biggest hurdle: there is always something newer and better.
For some teachers, finding out about the latest and greatest EdTech is invigorating, challenging, and rewarding. They can’t wait to try something new and see if it will help their students.
For some teachers, finding out about the latest and greatest EdTech is paralyzing, intimidating, and draining. They don’t know where to start, so they refuse to learn and feel defeated. They say things like “There’s just so much. I don’t know even know where to start” or “I’m not like you. I’m so far behind that I’ll never catch up.”
I don’t buy it. My response is always the same for teachers who fear integrating technology into the classroom: “Start with what you know.”
This artwork hangs in my office as a daily reminder for me and my colleagues to avoid the analysis of paralysis:
“If in doubt” by Hugh MacLeod
That’s what I would tell students. Why not tell teachers the same thing?
Start with what you know.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate this:
A friend of mine teaches Geometry and coaches football. Last week his kids were fighting off the flu and it’s still hanging around. As a result, he missed a few days last week and he’ll be out all of this week. That’s not good for him, his kids, or his Geometry students.
I suggested he create some video lessons for the sub to play so he and his students wouldn’t fall too far behind. I told him about apps like ShowMe and Educreations, but without an iPad to use, he was stuck. He went home, did a little research, and found something that might work for him… but sadly after trying to figure it out, it just didn’t work.
He texted me pretty bummed and said he’d just find another worksheet for his students to do while he was gone. I suggested he record a video with his iPhone (which he knows how to do). He could angle the camera on a piece of paper and teach his lesson with pen and paper. When he finished, he could send the video for the sub to play.
He loved the idea and then said rather than emailing the video, he’d post it on HUDL— a program he knows well from watching, editing, and sharing game films with other coaches and players.
The next morning he emailed a link to the HUDL video, and when his students came to class, they were able to have a “normal” class day even though their teacher was absent.
The reason this worked is simple: Instead of being paralyzed about learning something new, my friend started with what he already knew (recording iPhone videos and uploading videos to HUDL) and created a learning opportunity for his students.
That’s how EdTech is supposed to work. It’s supposed to help us in the classroom and give us options that didn’t exist in years past. It should be liberating– not intimidating.
The next time you hear colleagues saying they’re too old to start using technology in class, call them out on it. Tell them to start with what they know. They often know more than they’re letting on. Heck, they probably have more Facebook friends than you do.