As I've been thinking about what to write for my second ever blog post, many ideas have gone through my head. What kept coming back to me was the idea of working with reluctant tech users.
The most recent workshop I gave was for a group of teachers and their teen assistants. Quite a mix of tech comfort levels and familiarity! In my pre-workshop conference with the educational director, "reluctance" was a theme. Throughout many of these pre-conferences, reluctance has been at the forefront: reluctance to use tech at all, reluctance to try something different, reluctance to give some of the control to students, reluctance to allow students to use their own devices, and so on. As I planned for the day, I thought about tools to model that were simple, applied to a variety of content areas, and allowed for teachers and teens to work together with their students with just 1 device per grade level owned by the school. (Yep, one!) The final choices for tools to model: Padlet and Plickers.
Padlet is one of my all time favorites. I've used it to provide a resource bank, as a student response system, and was ready to try a KWL (a la this idea from Richard Byrne) where the K = tech tools that participants were familiar with, W = tech tools we want to learn about, and L = how it all came together in the classroom. This worked kind of like a job board to match teens and teachers with prior tech skills with others who were looking to learn a new tool (per questions in the W column). All was working well until...
Wrong #1 - Internet down. No one's posts were adding or refreshing on the page.
Same workshop. Internet back. Let's try Plickers with questions to start discussions about organizing for tech like: "I must have one device per student to use tech in the classroom. T/F" and "I need to know everything that an app can do before I use it in my classroom. T/F" (Side note. I'm going "False" on both counts. One, I really wanted to point out how the one device that teachers had access to could be used in so many ways and it only takes one to get started. Two, I want the teachers I work with to know WHY they are using an app and what LEARNING GOALS the app is best for before knowing what every tap and click will do.) Again, all going well until...
Wrong #2 - Page load error and the cool Plickers response graph is a no show.
It happens. To all, or many of us. The WiFi only goes out when the technology presenter is visiting, yes? Sure enough, all the evaluations of the workshop were along the lines of "Great tools, so excited. Biggest concern is that it won't work when I need it!" Sounds good, but not really what I was going for in terms of taking away some of the reluctance to use tech in the classroom.
So... turning my two wrongs into a right? What a great opportunity to model what really could happen when you have a great plan with tech (I suggested teachers check out this planning tool from our website.), but it goes awry. During the workshop, we moved on to creating questions that would initiate discussion instead of answering a few to start. We went old school with thumbs up-thumbs down and had a good chuckle about it. We looked at screen shots instead of live Padlet walls to get the idea. This was a great time to model what teachers have to do all the time: think on their feet. How many of us have had lessons with no tech at all go differently than planned? Do we stop using whiteboards when the marker dries up? Do we skip the whole lesson if one handout is MIA? Nope. We keep going. We find a way to turn it around because the tool is just a tool, but the teaching and learning happens with the thinking. And what isn't right about that?
I'm an education consultant, former elementary school teacher turned professional development leader, avid reader, and lifelong learner.
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