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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?


  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 11 Jun 2011 3:27pm ()

    WARNING - This is going to be a long post!

    My school has been developing eLearning explicitly since 2009 when we started on the ICTPD cluster project.

    We ,of course, had some early adapters (-isn't New Zealand leading the world in early adoption?). We have had some very real struggles with some staff. It has been an uphill process and at times it really has been one step forward and two steps back.

    Early on we decided to develop a 'mother tongue' which was from Dorothy Burt coming to speak to us. Our school decided to focus on learning one tool in depth with the belief that the knowledge would transfer to other tools later.

    Leadership has been paramount in this process. Our principal led the meeting where we all set up a classroom blogs. Weekly Professional development meetings were instigated and ICT leadership was split into technical and eLearning. As co-leaders, my colleague and I began a series of PD sessions developing skills that could be used to enhance the classroom blog such as adding gadgets, photography-adding photos etc . Our sessions were split into 2 and staff could choose the 'beginners' or advanced' level. This proved very beneficial -it allowed those who needed support to get it and those who were ready to fly, could.

    The next important leadership decision was that attendance was made compulsory which meant that appointments etc could no longer be an excuse.

    Following that (and these steps were 1-2 terms apart) we moved our PD focus to learning how best to use our LMS -KnowledeNET. Compulsory sharing was introduced in the expectations -this was the start of gentle pressure. Staff soon realised that sharing a little or a lot was well received and so it became easier.

    Our cluster put some of its funding towards 'walkthroughs'. This meant that staff had the opportunity to see what was going on in different schools in our area as well as opening their rooms and hosting teachers from those schools. Our principal funded a further session so our teachers could attend 2 walkthroughs each. The benefit of this was they got to see that they were 'normal' and that what they were doing was similar to many others. This provided us with further 'gentle pressure'. One outcome from the walkthrough was one of our cluster school had their lead teacher released for one day per week to work specifically on individual teacher needs -either personal or classroom.

    So another great leadership decision later and I am released to support teacher goals (one per term) and am responsible for developing eLearning to improve the teaching and learning of our students.

    Now, it has to be said all this support/gentle pressure does not mean our teachers were embedding eLearning but we recently invited Emma Watts from Tahunanui to speak to the staff about effective blogging, adding academic rigor and academic commenting. I have to say this is another under utilised tool -staff are much more receptive to the ideas of 'someone else' -it's like kids who ignore their mum but when their friend's mum suggests the same thing it's a great idea. AND it is developing cluster collaboration AND we should be doing it a whole lot more!

    Classroom blog links with the date of the latest post are now live on our school website and that has prompted some late adopters to move a bit. We got the staff to share with Emma (and the rest of the staff) what they had been doing on their blogs. Turns out we have had 'quiet adopters' who have developed their blogs into true eLearning tools using them to provide links to great websites, as ways to report their learning etc.

    We have some 'late adopters' as well. The success story here is that two and a half years later one of our more reluctant members said to me "we are doing it -we post twice a week and we use kidpix (and some other tools) but it's just surfaces really, there's not much depth". My next step is to work with this staff member and develop a kidspeak matrix to add depth to her posting and commenting. Then she will present this to the staff -I can't think of any more powerful way of promoting how to embed eLearning to other late adopters.

    I guess we have to accept that people will only truly change at the rate they can cope with -but it seems they will change... given time, support and gentle pressure.



  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 11 Jun 2011 3:48pm ()

    One other thing that we are doing is developing TecStars -kids who can go into classrooms and help with modeling tools that the teacher is not confident with, assisting the classroom teacher during lessons, becoming blog experts, training other kids and solving lower level technical issues. This is a model being developed from Sylvia martinez's techYES programme. 

  • Isaac Day (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 9:26am ()

    Fear in some cases, in others it may not be... :-)
    Thats why I like this forum question, if we try to understand what is causing the lack of adaptation, we may be able to support these teachers to understand the value of eLearning (seek first to understand and then to be understood).
    It may be interesting to survey those who are struggling with the whole idea to get their take on it?

  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 10:29am ()

    Google Forms does a nice survey and we have a pro version of Survey Monkey. Will that help? ;-)

  • Innes Kennard (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 11:20am ()

    Maybe interesting to have this group suggest questions in the first instance.

    What do you want to find out?

    What do you already know?

    What will be useful - for all.

    What will you do with the answers?

  • Karen Mills (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 12:30pm ()

    For me, it doesn't matter whether you are an early adopter, technophobe or a lead teacher. It is all about the Professional Development opportunities you provide (if you are a Facilitator) or attend.

    I had to write a Literature review last year for an E-Learning paper I did at Waikato Uni. I chose, What are the features of an effective ICT Professional Development programme? as my topic.  Not wanting to bore everyone I have posted my conclusion which sums up the main ideas.

    ICT professional development as a social learning activity must be a priority by school leaders and facilitators. Environments that encourage collaboration and collegiality will be a key determinant in how effective the professional development will be. The facilitator in any professional development also has a huge impact on how effective a session will be. They need to be technologically and pedagogically knowledgeable and create an environment where teachers feel both supported and challenged, an often difficult balance to find.

    Until further research has been conducted, the recommendation by most would be to conduct ICT professional development sessions in the ʻrealʼ world. While some benefits have been identified for creating online or asynchronous learning environments, there is not enough evidence to suggest these should be a key feature.

    Teachers need an ICT education as opposed to ICT skills. They need to know how to, and be prepared to, integrate any new skills and knowledge into their existing pedagogies. Creating dissonance has been identified as an effective way of doing this. By challenging teachers existing philosophies in a supportive environment you will be more likely to transform outcomes.

    An effective ICT professional development session should involve a variety of learning activities. While it may involve listening to an expert, a passive activity, it should involve discussion and hands on learning as well. Again, the importance of the facilitator to create these opportunities is paramount. Finally, teachers need to be involved in ICT professional development that occurs regularly, over a long period of time. Vince Ham's video below was a great starting point.

  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 12:59pm ()

    In Vince Ham's video he suggested the notion that professional learning is a social relationship, that professional learning needs to be personalised. Do we pay enough attention to the personalities and learning styles of staff members? Are our late adopters in some sort of minority on the staff? Does this mean our late adopters might feel less than comfortable in their learning environment?

    Does part/whole thinking play a part in this? Some people like to know the big picture first and then can happily break it down into manageable chunks but others find the big picture overwhelming and prefer to work in smaller steps until they are closer to the big picture.

    Dos personality type play a part? Using open or guarded and direct or indirect as the 4 main personality traits does any particular combination appear more or less in the late adopters?

    Does brain dominance play a part? Is there a pattern of left or right side 'brainers' more inclined to be early or late adopters? Does strong creativity or strong logic actually hinder the uptake? 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 13 Jun 2011 10:22am ()

    Great question Kellie RE: personalities and learning styles of adults. Without wanting to label anyone or make assumptions that the following is definitive in any way, there are some interesting descriptors for how people may adapt/adopt new technologies.

    As well as the aforementioned Technology Adoption Lifecycle, there is also a post by Jeremiah Owyang who writes about the 'persona' of adopting new technologies and in the context of social media tools. He explains there are three types of 'persona' which may help identify the way in which some people adopt and use new technologies. These are defined as "Pioneers", "Settlers" and "Colonists". For more go to http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/06/06/social-media-early-adopters-pioneers-settlers-and-colonists/

    Some may find the following presentation on ways to hook teachers into technology of interest as well.

  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2011 6:05am ()

    I really like the slideshare -the ideas are simple and succinct (and the graphics are great).

    I followed the Tecnhology Adoption Lifecycle link and found this post on the benefits of making mistakes by the same blogger, Mike Bogle. Thanks for the links Tessa Smile

    Do we need to acknowledge the discomfort of making mistakes but reiterate the value and joy of learning from a mistake? It seems the general consensus is that time is the biggest barrier to exploration. It takes time to trial new things, make mistakes and then figure them out or wait to find someone who can help. With such a crowded curriculum and ever increasing pressures on teachers I fear time will eventually swallow even the early adopters or 'pioneers' (or force them out of the classroom).

    I guess this is not necessarily about technology it's about change. Are the same people who are late adopters/ 'colonists'/technophobes also those who resist other forms of change? Are they teachers who have seen a great deal of change, invested time in that change only to see it move away (throw out the baby with the bathwater) and resurface years later with a new name. I've only been teaching for 13 years but I can imagine the frustration of that. Perhaps the 'colonists' deserve more respect for their experience and hesitation as they do force us to look closely at our reasons for introducing new tools, the benefits of them and how they will enhance teaching and learning. 

  • Karen Mills (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 1:11pm ()

    Hi Kellie, I think to answer to all your questions is, "YES". Just a classroom teacher attempts to cater for all these learning needs, Faciliatators of Professional Development must attempt to cater for the different needs of attendees/staff. I learnt last year that it is called Angragogy.

  • Kelliem (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 2:41pm ()

    We all want the best for our kids and their future, and we want our schools to be providing that type of teaching and learning effectively. When there is resistance, it seems to me that frustration can easily become blame. I think it's a lot like kids- I find it really hard getting a student that has almost been given up on at the start of the year. They know that teachers are frustrated with them, they feel that resentment and they have virtually given up. Often it's a matter of finding the teaching style that suits that student's learning style and the results can be amazing. 

    eLearning leaders are naturally early adopters and keen beans-that's why we got the job... but does our enthusiasm become a disincentive because it is perceived as frustration?

    I wonder if there is a pattern to the different ways we learn. If there was it would be a bit easier to find a 'way in' to get these late adopters to see things through a different lens. If there is a survey going around I'd like to see if these questions can unearth any patterns in learning styles and late adopters (technophobes).

  • Jo Fothergill (View all users posts) 12 Jun 2011 4:20pm ()

    At my school I'm the resident geek, ICT lead teacher & person who "knows how to fix stuff when it goes wrong" as well as a classroom teacher.

    My boss has a policy of not ordering technology for classrooms just because it's a good idea. He waits for teachers to ask for it. Those of us who have already integrated technology into our classrooms are the 'guinea pigs' for new technology (2 of us have promethean boards because of this).

    What generally happens is other teachers see us doing things with our class, or see the result of what we've done and start asking about it. Usually the first thing they want is for someone to come show their kids (how to use particular piece of software etc) then they want to learn how to use it themselves. It's a process of osmosis.

    When I look back over the last 3-5 years and recall how far our teachers have come I'm totally blown away.

    3 years ago:

    Class blogs = 1

    Class wiki = 1

    Active integration of ICTs into class = 1 (rather than type and print)

    This year:

    Class blogs = 2 & 2 classes with student blogs & several classes using the school website (Spike hosted) to showcase things for their classroom

    Class wiki = 4

    Active integration = 8 (including several teachers with iPads that their kids are allowed to use)

    It might be a slow process but when you get groups of classes using ICTs for meaningful purposes rather than time fillers/wasters then it's progress. I see more and more teachers who take a wander down the learning street at school to see what we're up to and to ask how they can do it too.

    (I can't find a shot of the whole learning street in action to illustrate how we work.)

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2011 7:52am ()

    I thought I'd jump in at this point with a quick summary of this very rich discussion up to now. Again - some really interesting resources being shared to illustrate your own pointsSmile .The key themes that seem to be emerging:

    • Tessa, Kellie, Jo, Chrissie, Heath discussed the different theories, approaches, contexts, behaviours, feelings (fear, lack of confidence) that people bring to professional learning. Professional learning (andragogy) must a differentiated endeavour, and it is most effective when it is collaborative and meaningful to one's own contexts.
    • Chrissie, Kellie, and Karen highlighted the importance of content - connecting what we do to the big ideas, to the classroom context, to pedagogy and curriculum, and process - engaging in social participation, providing opportunities to connect with each other.
    • Isaac, Innes, and Allanah raised the importance of planning professional learning from where teachers are at, working from what we know. They explored the question: how do we find out where people are starting from?
    • Chrissie, and Kellie reminded us of the importance of leadership, in terms of modelling, and aligning activities

    There seems to be plenty of scope to start one or two new topics, springboarding off those themes above that matter to each of us....

  • Anne Sturgess (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2011 11:42am ()

    I've been following this discussion with some interest and would like to add that another theme coming through is that of being respectful of the different stages and priorities that teachers have. I don't believe I fit comfortably within any of the lables used. If I were to describe myself it wouldn't be as an 'early adopter' even though, as a young teacher in the early 1980s I trained and worked in special education where computer technology was blended into everyday learning, and I transferred this to my mainstream learning environments from the mid-80s. I prefer to think of myself as a 'discriminating uptaker' not just of ICT but of any ideas in education (e.g. thinking skills, personalising learning, taxonomies) - I hope so, anyway. Perhaps some of the reluctant users of ICT are adopting the same approach.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 10:11am ()

    Quite right, AnneLaughing. Labels are reductive and unhelpful. The original 'technophobe' title was a (perhaps provocative) quote from the blog post that kicked off this thread.

    Many people who have contributed to this conversation assert the importance of finding out where people are at, no matter what their level of expertise and motivation, so professional learning can be tailored accordingly.

    Your comment about being 'discriminating' is a vital one. To use technology knowingly and deliberately as part of a learning experience is what we're all aiming to do, I think. Being discriminating is pretty sophisticated Smile , though, in that it implies one has some baseline understanding of what's appropriate, available, possible... I guess there are some folk who perhaps are not quite at that stage yet, though, and have yet to be convinvced that it's worth being taking that next step.

    How do we help people build their knowledge of curriculum/pedagogy/technology so that they can be discriminating in their choices?

  • Pam Hook (View all users posts) 19 Jun 2011 4:25pm ()

    Hi Anne and Karen,

    I find this conversation thread to be very revealing - not in as much as what it resolves - rather in terms of what it exposes - it is worthy of deeper analysis in terms of unpacking the beliefs and attitudes espoused by those educators who identify themselves as "the change makers".

    We don't come off too well under Marris' analysis

    No one can resolve the crisis of reintegration on behalf of another. Every attempt to pre-empt conflict, argument, protest by rational planning can only be abortive: However reasonable the proposed changes, the process of implementing them must still allow the impulse of rejection to play itself out.

    When those who have the power to manipulate changes act as if they have only to explain, and when their explanations are not at once accepted, shrug off opposition as ignorance or prejudice, they express a profound contempt for the meaning of lives other than their own. For the reformers have already assimilated these changes to their purposes, and worked out a reformulation which makes sense to them, perhaps through months or years of analysis and debate. If they deny others
    the chance to do the same, they treat them as puppets dangling on the strings of their own conceptions. Marris (p166)

    Anne's challenge is along Marris' lines and drives Karen to ask - How do we help people build their knowledge of curriculum/pedagogy/technology so that they can be discriminating in their choices?

    It is a good question and is this context I take it as a question that assumes that building discrimination will lead to a greater integration/implementation of e-learning technologies which I am not at all certain is warranted.

    Where is the data that shows how effectively the e-thing is advancing children's learning? I am not alone in claiming that the data has not caught up with the claims we make. Juan Cristobal Cobo Romani's Oxford and Cardiff University 2009 Monograph  (pdf) and our own Noeline Wright's University of Waikato Lit Review 2010 claim much the same

    There is an international doxa about e-Learning’s inherent benefits to learners. It masks a relatively small amount of actual evidence about its relationship to improved educational and life chances for students.

    Englemann (cited in Hattie 2009 p253) challenges teachers and schools to ask four critical questions about the innovations we are asked to adopt in school. They are great questions for those who wish to be more discriminating in their pedagogical approach to teaching and learning

    • Precisely where have you seen this practice installed so that it produces effective results?
    • Precisely where have you trained teachers so they can uniformly perform within guidelines of this new system?
    • Where is the data that show you have achieved performance that is superior to that achieved by successful programmes (not simply the administrations last unsuccessful attempt).
    • Where are your endorsements from historically successful teachers (those whose students outperform demographic predictions)?

     When we are thinking about ICTs in teaching and learning they become:

    • Precisely where have you seen teaching and learning through ICTs installed so that it produces effective results in enhancing student achievement?
    • Precisely where have you trained teachers so they can uniformly perform within guidelines of this new system?
    • Where is the data that show teaching and learning using ICTs achieves performance that is superior to that achieved by other successful strategies used in teaching and learning?
    • Where are your endorsements from historically successful teachers – those whose students outperform demographic predictions for student achievement?

    So one way to help teachers become more discriminating in their practice might be to encourage them to ask questions like these - and to let the impulse of rejection play out ...

  • Karen Mills (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2011 6:20am ()

    I have heard this analogy used in relation to a schools ICT/E-learning journey.

    Think of a speed boat used for water skiing. The speeding boat is full of early adopters. The waterskiiers are being dragged along but most are happy to be there. Sometimes a water skiier will fall off. If they put their hand up to be rescued, rescue them. If they don't put their hand up, they don't want to be rescued so let them drown.

    So how many drowned teachers would there be in your school? Do we spend most of our time on the drowning teachers who want rescuing or those who don't?

  • Anne Sturgess (View all users posts) 19 Jun 2011 6:19pm ()

    Pam, what wonderfully 'precise' questions - thank you. It is one thing to know about the tools available and quite another to know whether or not they are useful in improving outcomes for learners or, indeed, whether they are an improvement on other, more traditional, methods. I'm not saying that ICT tools are more, or less, effective but I am suggesting that we should not make claims about their effectiveness that cannot be substantiated.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 20 Jun 2011 10:27am ()

    Always interesting to hear differing perspectives about any of the issues shared. I think this kind of forum is invaluable when we honour various views and are able to, “…reflect on what effects the application of knowledge capital” and how this may have an impact on individual stakeholders in this community. Having a useful set of guiding questions is one strategy for this.

    For some, it is also a process for gaining the confidence and ability to participate and engage with others online - to possibly alter another “stakeholders’ understanding and definition of what matters.”


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