Editorial

Bridging the Digital Divide

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Bridging the Digital Divide

We’re teachers. We like to teach stuff to people, right? So how do we have this huge gap between the tech teachers and the non-tech teachers?

Last week, I wrote a manifesto calling on ed tech teachers to become tech evangelists. But how do we do that? I know that teachers that love technology will talk with others who are equally passionate. Here are some ideas to actually bridge that gap between those that love and those that hate technology in the classroom.

Make It Easy

If you can share a resource that makes life easier, non-tech teachers will eventually love it. The trick is to find a resource with a quick learning curve. Dropbox fits this category–“it’s like a flash drive that you don’t have to plug in.” Non-tech teachers get that (ah-hem, prior knowledge!?).

Make It Fun (and/or Cute)

Show non-tech teachers entertaining stuff, and give it an ed tech twist. If they watch the video titled A Magazine is an iPad That Doesn’t Work, they not only laugh, they also see how common place technology is for young people. As they slowly become hooked, feel free to pantomime holding a fishing reel and slowly bring in a fish.

Repeat It. Repeat It. Repeat It.

Find some resources that non-tech teachers can watch repeatedly. I recently started Ed Tech Moment with Tim McKean–a series of ed tech tutorials that are five minutes each. Five minutes is not intimidating for a non-tech teacher; it’s an easily consumable knowledge nugget (with bbq sauce (optional)). The best part is that teachers can watch them over and over. Rather than asking you the same question every day for a month, they can watch the same five minute clip every day for a month. (This is also a great strategy to use with your students.)

If you want to share a tech tip, but can’t find it anywhere, use Screenr to make a quick screen capture for your colleague. Feel free to keep it informal and fast-paced. Your non-tech teacher friend can rewind it as many times as needed.

If my 92-year-old great aunt can use an iPad, your non-tech teacher friend down the hall can, too. Keep it fun, keep it simple, and give them access to resources. Feel free to share other ideas of easy ways to evangelize technology in the classroom. 

A Manifesto for Ed Tech Teachers

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A Manifesto for Ed Tech Teachers

I was just in the office of my elementary school. I happened to have my iPad with me (checking Twitter) and the office staff asked to see new pictures of my newborn (she’s super cute). Everyone crowded around the iPad, oohing and aahing, when the clerk mentioned her two year old granddaughter has an iPad. The office staff was amazed that a two year old could use an iPad. I mentioned this YouTube video of a two year old confused by a magazine, but enthralled with an iPad. Shocked, the staff (including my principal) asked for more. I shared a few apps like There’s a Monster at the End of This Book. I could begin to see the gears turning in my principal’s head. And it occurred to me…

Most educators don’t keep up with technology.

As an ed tech teacher, I integrate technology into my classroom regularly. I spend time learning about the latest ed tech tools, and work to build that into my class. I talk to like-minded teachers on Twitter about the latest and greatest. My classroom is constantly evolving.But, this is not how most teachers teach. We, as believers of classroom technology need to do more than just make our classroom amazing. We need to share how we learned about these tools (“Here’s a great resource–I learned about it on Twitter.”), and not just keep it to ourselves. We need to create opportunities to educate administrators about great technologies. We need to not just model technology integration, but be advocates of it.

Non-tech teachers/admins will only used technology when they have to. And most of the required technology stinks. I even complain about using DataDirector, BlackBoard, eCollege, etc. If that’s all they know, it’s no wonder they don’t care about integrating technology into the classroom. There’s this world of great technology they’ve never seen. That’s where we, the ed tech evangelists, come in. Be pro-active, and create opportunities to share exciting tech with those teachers. If they see how amazing this is, they will want to change. Then they will change. And then their students will change, too. And that’s the goal.

Administrators don’t know what they don’t know. I demonstrated a simple app today and jaws dropped. If we simply expose others in education to amazing tools, the culture of schools will begin to change. It’s necessary to share with others that are already passionate about tech, but at some point we need to reach beyond that, or it becomes a feedback loop. Rather than conversations being us-to-us, make it us-to-them. Share with non-tech teachers. Explain it to non-tech teachers. Model it to non-tech teachers. Get out there and evangelize.