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How to help the 'technophobes'...?

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Started by Enabling e-Learning 08 Jun 2011 11:39am () Replies (41)

There was an interesting opinion piece on the e-Learning Stuff blog this week, about the resistance, in some quarters, to using technology for teaching and learning:

'...but I'm a technophobe!' [e-Learning stuff blog]

If you are involved in professional learning, how do you manage this situation?


  • Jan Coleman (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 11:59am ()

    The best way I have found to get to these people is to forget teaching for a while and concentrate on something in their lives. I learnt a lot about growing saffron working with one teacher. We also made sure they had internet access at home. Searching, reading, emailing, photographic recording and even bloging helped them to do what they wanted to do. The learning about technology happened but was secondary. Once they see the power of working on something of real personal interest they often are then ready to use their new skills in their work. Remember the 80:20 rule. This 20% require 80% of the effort. Use stelth, bribery subdefuge or anything else you have to as long as you get results. If you do, they can be one of your best sales peopleWink

  • Heath sawyer (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 1:57pm ()

    I completely concur with Jan's commment about making the ICT secondary. Teachers tend to adopt new methods and technologies when it can be seen as improving what they already do. Personal gain is generally the first thing resistors notice, "Oh, that will save me alot of time", "can I copy that resource?, I'll have to try that".

    Explain the benefits!

    Managing Complex Change

    When introducing something new a school needs to set expectations about what is to be achieved by its' teachers. This of course needs to be followed by support to help meet those expectations. I'm all for sandbox time but eventually we need to find our purpose, set some goals and get to work to achieve them. Without goals and timeframes the technophobe will often find excuses as to why things don't work. The Managing Complex Change model outlines brilliantly the factors required for the process of change.

    Managing complex change

    Just reading this back to myself I think a blended approach is best, subdefuge and subtlety makes working with technophobes easier but there needs to be a plan backed up with a bit of accountability as well.



  • Jan Coleman (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 2:12pm ()

    Oh I completely agree with a level of compulsion. Having resorted to telling 1 principal many of his staff would fail to meet the (old) teacher professional stds one time I am fast losing patience with those who still expect help to do what I consider basics. We expect teachers to be able to read, managing technology should now be thought of in much the same way.

    For me the hard part is ensuring the changes in practice are sustained when the teacher is the only adult in the room. For this to happen they need to get to the point where they see technology as 2nd nature and really beneficial to learning. This means our task is to ensure they see the small signs and are not just weighed down by temporary setbacks & frustrations. Thats where incentives, resources and the action plan and plain determination come in.

  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 7:47pm ()

    I found out about Appreciative Inquiry last year and it seems to be a useful tool for the 'slow up-takers'. This sounds similar to what Jan is saying;

    A.I uses 4 steps

    • Discover -getting alongside the person and finding out what is already being done, as the technophobe post said many are already using technology personally.
    • Dream -Take the time to imagine (...effective use of eLearning)
    • Design -Create plans for achieving the dream
    • Destiny -implementing the plans
    The other thing that has been effective has been 'gentle pressure' -raising the expectation bar a little at a time. After each professional eLearning session we now expect staff to demonstrate what they have done in the session or at the beginning of the following session. Initially some still shied away from sharing but we now have the expectation that everyone shares and it doesn't matter if it is a lot or a little. This 'gentle pressure' without judgement has meant that within a year personal sharing is now a matter of course. Next step is classroom transference... 
  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 8:15pm ()

    This from Chris Betcher is a bit hard nosed but he has a point.


    "You don't have to like it- you just have to do it."

    The use of ICT has been around for ages now. Since when did teachers get to only teach the things they like to teach and shy off the ones they're not too keen on.

    Come on people- we're teachers. TEACH.

    Apply to curriculum to ourselves- what happened to connected life long learners!

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 9:11pm ()

    Lol...yes it is hard nosed...and yes I understand the point of view and to some extent agree!  Smile

    However if you stated that to the teachers (those who feel that they are technophobes) it would not cut the mustard!  If I launched in ordering staff to integrate use e-tools I think I'd have a mutiny on my hands!

    Daniel Goleman suggests that a successful leader switches between four styles of leadership - visionary, coaching, affiliative and democractic in order to 'boost' performance.  He states that 'pacesetting' and 'commanding' styles of leadership '....although useful in some very specific situations, should be applied with caution'

    It makes me think of the phrase "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink"! Smile

    I know I cannot force my students to think, learn and understand but I can try different ways to inspire them to do so.  I cannot force teachers to use technology.  When I support other teachers to use e-learning I also try to find ways to inspire them, to help make educational links and purposes for using the e-learning, praise their successes and slowly bring in new ideas (or quickly for those who wish!).  I agree with having a 'fierce conversation' (Susan Scott) and being honest. I've found that inspiring others, using my emotional intellgience helps...it's a slow process, fuelled with frustrations along the way of course, yet I feel confident it can help to create a community of confident life long learners.

  • Emma Watts (View all users posts) 08 Jun 2011 8:30pm ()

    I agree Kellie...small steps, raising the bar, 'gentle pressure' all can help a teacher who is yet to integrate e-learning into their classroom programmes.   What has helped for me? Making it easy for teachers by identifying easy to use e-tools that are quick to use with the children - and being prepared to teach staff who need help to use the tool.  Probably most importantly - why are we using it, identifying how it is enhancing the learning in the classroom.  Some teachers will fly with an e-tool, others will need you to be the 'guide on the side'. 

    Most of all be patient and definitely take a few deep breaths - easier said than done at times!  Leadership often feels like one step forward and two steps back. 

    See it as a 'learning curve' and acknowledge that teachers and students will be at different stages on that learning curve.  Celebrate - even the small successes!  Praise and share the learning that is happening across the school that students and teachers have shared through e-learning. 

    Adding e-learning to our school annual targets has really helped at my school. Clarity is key!  What are the expectations? What are we aiming for?  How will we achieve this? How are we progressing? How can we review the target? Being prepared to let the target evolve as the year progress, checking that the target is understood and the action plan is working.  Review is also key!

    This year one e-learning annual target for my school is: "90% classes to create a blog post about their learning once a week.

    '...teachers & students will track their learning through ICTs, NZNC & key competencies via blogging' and '...for teachers, students and parents to develop and use ‘academic commenting’ rather than ‘social commenting’ 

    At the end of Term 1 58% of teachers & their class created a blog post once or more a week about their learning and 42% created between 2 and 7 posts during that 11 week term!  This success was shared and celebrated!  We still need to continue to focus on academic commenting, embedding key competencies and raising the 58%!  We have started the journey...now we need to keep the momentum going through regular review! Smile

    I recommend the following books that have helped me to analyse my leadership skills in leading e-learning (if you have time in your busy schedules!):

    'The Six Secrets of Change' by Michael Fullan

    'Primal Leadership' by Daniel Goleman

    'Fierce Leadership' & 'Fierce Conversations' by Susan Scott




  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 09 Jun 2011 11:10pm ()

    I've found this discussion really helpful and thought provoking as one of the problems uppermost in my mind is how to deal with the technophobe on my staff.  The bottom line is that the students are missing out - they are not getting the notices because they are electronic, messages are missed because they come by email, and the exciting  world of blended e_learning is absent. I've taken the "water the flowers approach" with the staff, but rather than the"drip down" effect, it's been "water off a duck's back".  Now there has to be an element of compulsion and realising that it's not an option.  I'm aware of the model "Managing Complex Change"; I think the resistance is from real fear of something she doesn't use in her private life; she has been exposed to the benefits from others around her. I think some gentle hand holding over a defined period, with an element of compulsion, has to be my next step.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2011 10:40am ()

    Great comments here folks, I hope other facilitators on the ICT PD contract pop in to get the benefit from this.

    I have to agree with comments about finding incentives for teachers as well as clarifying intended goals and outcomes through effective change management strategies. I also enjoyed reading about nudge and nurture approach and the ‘gentle pressure’. Allanah you’re right – it’s been 30 years since we’ve had computers in the classroom, so come-on.  Emma your ideas about supporting teachers to use e-learning by inspiring them, celebrating successes, praise as well as making educational links and purposes for using the e-learning is really invaluable.

    For me it’s the first sentence of the blog post, “One of the issues with embedding technology into teaching and learning is the resistance to the embedding by practitioners.” It’s the whole of idea of embedding into teaching and learning practice. Some teacher use technology for their own personal and professional use – the issue lies, in how to transfer these skills in an authentic way - to positively impact on student learning. This I believe is the tipping point.  

    If we ask ourselves, “how do we get teachers who use technology on a daily basis to be able to transfer their skills into the effective use of technology in the classroom?” we have a couple of things to unpack…

    1.    That people (teachers) have varying degrees of attitude, readiness, confidence, understanding – when it comes to infusing ICTs into teaching and learning.
    Technology adoption cycle is not new, in fact an early model from 1957 is still one we reference today
    2.     E-capability models or frameworks enable educators to understand the implications and impact of technology implementation in education
    3.    The process of 'teaching as inquiry' is hugely beneficial to student learning outcomes.
    4.    Professional learning can challenge teacher practice and beliefs and inspire new ways of thinking and new ways of workingThe process for teacher as inquiry is hugely beneficial to student learning outcomes.

    We can find ways to support and mentor adult learners (teachers) with incentives for learning new technologies, ultimately, the intention is for teachers to find ways to transfer their knowledge of how ICTs can support learning into new ways of working. EG: take an understanding of good e-learning theory and pedagogy and put this into practice. Having great mentors like yourselves guide this process is paramount.

    Strategies such as modeling effective e-learning pedagogy, making links with current learning theory, reflecting on practice as well as sharing and celebrating this is invaluable. Possibly acknowledging that some reluctant learners are going to need some very specific support could be practical as well. Resources such as, How Teachers Learn Technology Best By Jamie McKenzie (2001) is not new but can be useful in this instance.

    Other ideas to help guide the embedding/transference process could include:

    * Having teachers identify exactly who is being taught (individual, group, class)
    * Teachers having clear learning intentions and lesson sequences based on prior data gathering
    * Teachers understanding what the intended valued outcomes might look like once achieved
    * Teachers knowing how these will be taught/facilitated effectively
    • Teachers knowing which ICTs/e-learning tools will be appropriate to use for learning to be successful

    I’d love to hear more?

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2011 11:49am ()

    For me the 'hard nosed' way doesn't work and just gets people to actively disengage, while often putting up the face of yeah, I'm doing it. Smile

    I am also cautious about the 'evangelical' techno people who promote the hard nosed approach as I often (NOT ALWAYS) find that technos, don't make the most effective teachers and therefore don't necessarily get the best out of the kids or teaching staff (and many are not reflective enough to see it).  I think, if the teacher is a great teacher who loves their kids, actively engages them in their learning and gets the best out of them, why force them into using a computer?  Let them get on with the job of making a difference to their learners. Then allow them to see the benefits, e.g. how they could use an iPad with one of their reading groups, get some reluctant writers going with a cool web 2.0 tool.  Effective leadership, Small steps, and patience will see this teacher grow.  Show them how it improves learning for the kids... don't just tell them 'its motivating', or that they 'have to use it in the workplace' or that it will 'improve test scores'... that won't wash with anyone with any clues.  Show them how they can use it to promote effective pedagogies and quality learning (and tell them that they don't have to be a computer expert to do it!).

    On the other hand, if they are doing a crap job pedagogically, or are not a sound practitioner... just give them a jam sandwitch and feel glad that you don't have to do their appraisal, because putting a computer in front of them is not going to help their learners either! Smile

    Also try not to label these folks as 'technophobes' - they are people first, teachers first equal (If that makes sense) and a label is likely to disengage them further (great teachers do not deserve to have the mickey taken if they are doing a good job!).  To take the proactive stance, maybe ask yourself, "... how would I get the least tecn-savvy person in my family to use technology to support them?...".  By and large you love family, and you take a more compassionate approach when dealing with family difficulties (I hope) and that may help you to support them more.  It may help, it may not... but it is worth a try.

  • Chrissie Butler (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2011 3:09pm ()

    Yep Issac, I couldn't agree more. Great teachers are worth their weight in gold.

    Sometimes a really fruitful strategy, is to ask them if you could film or even just take photos of some of the work they are doing so you can share their effective practice with other less experienced teachers or with colleagues interested in similar things. It can be really informal in the beginning. The footage doesn't even need to be downloaded and can be watched on the camera itself.

    And if the lens is initially on just the learners, the teachers are often more willing to give it a go and let you in.

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 11 Jun 2011 9:30am ()

    I like it... :-)
    Do you ever find that many of these teachers don't like the idea? how do you go about persuading them to take part?

  • Chrissie Butler (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2011 10:01pm ()

    Not usually.

    I have often begun, by taking some stills of a resource, or maybe some close ups of a really engaged learner. Then I give the photos back to the teacher so he or she can use them if they want to.

    Slowly, I widen the lens, maybe capture a group of engaged learners, then repeat the process of sharing the stills. Next I might capture a short video clip of the above and again share.

    At this stage the audience is just the teacher, although usually the students want to see the pics.

    Next I might capture a still of the teacher with an individual learner or group. I try to frame it so that it is the learning that is the focus of the image. Then the same again with a video.

    As the teacher feels more comfortable and if we catch a gem, I ask if I can show another teacher. And slowly, slowly confidence grows and then we're off.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2011 11:50am ()

    I am really enjoying reading this threadCool. Thanks so much for the resources shared by you all, and the honest and reflective references to your own experiences.

    Please flick the link to this thread to other facilitators who you think might be interested.

    Can you list a couple of reasons why teachers shy away from technology - and is it usually personal, or are there factors at play to do with the wider school context, such as leadership or resourcing?Undecided

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2011 12:47pm ()

    Why do some shy away?  Good question and worhty of some discussion, because if we can nail this, you can hopefully help these teachers to grow to accept and embrace eLearning to support their learners. Wink

    1. What is jumping out at me right now is that it is often seen as an 'imposition'.  Almost like, someone is making be do something else that I don't want to do. 
    2. The second thing is that the attitude of the teacher is negative, due to their lack of confidence with the tool or that they don't want another change forced on them (see 1, above).

    I find it hard to think of the specific factors, because they could be different for each hard to reach person (as it is with your hard to reach learners!).  The factors could well be a personal, school, leadership or resourcing centred, but they will depend on the individual and could easily be a combination...

    Great question!Cool

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