‘Research dispels common ed-tech myths’

Contrary to popular opinion, newer teachers aren’t any more likely to use technology in their lessons than veteran teachers, and a lack of access to technology does not appear to be the main reason why teachers do not use it: These are among the common perceptions about education technology that new research from Walden University’s Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership appears to dispel.

Research dispels common ed-tech myths – read it at eSchoolNews.com

I’ve found this to be true in the schools we work with. A teacher who has experience with a project-based classroom has a real edge in adapting and adopting technology. These teachers seem to have more of the “chops” necessary for a tech-infused classroom — juggling lots of things going on at once, managing the seeming chaos while still keeping things on track, and dealing with inevitable setbacks and distractions. And often, it’s the veteran teachers with these skills.

Another finding that could surprise some people is that a lack of access to technology doesn’t appear to be the main reason why teachers don’t use technology in their instruction. Only 29 percent of the teachers who said they used specific technology devices less than once a week in their classrooms cited lack of access as the primary reason, while 49 percent said the devices in question weren’t necessary for their lessons.

Again, this rings true to me. I’m not one to point fingers at teachers and say that just because they aren’t using technology, they are not doing their jobs. Sure I’ve met tech-resistant teachers. But I’ve also seen too many times where technology was purchased on a whim by someone enamored by some feature or marketing claim, without input from anyone. I’ve seen lots of closets full of “stuff” that can’t connect to the network, or other fatal flaws that weren’t noticed until too late. Teachers who resist such antics are being professional, not resistant.

As I’ve said before, “You can’t buy change. It’s a process, not a purchase. The right shopping list won’t change education.” (in Let me save you $6,162.48) “Stuff” doesn’t matter as much as if the technology is purchased with a coherent plan. And the plan has to have teacher input and ownership. It even works better when there is student input and ownership as well.

The comments on the article are insightful as well, including bringing up the question – what do you mean by “technology”? This is a subject I’ve addressed before as well, Educational Technology Doesn’t Work?

Does anyone expect that a new gradebook program will inspire a teacher to bring student-centered technology into the classroom? Even using their term “instructional tool” seems pretty loose. Is transferring overhead slides to PowerPoint using a technology as an instructional tool?

This study should be reviewed by all district and school tech committees to see if these “myths” and assumptions have fed into any part of the tech plan.


4 Replies to “‘Research dispels common ed-tech myths’”

  1. The technology must be in the teachers hands but that does not mean they will use it. More professional development needs to be done based on teacher needs. I found it interesting about the new teachers but if universities aren’t doing a better job showing students how to incorporate technology into lesson plans then why would they. I have said it before, teachers that infuse technology in the right way by enhancing lessons and improving student learning are just wired differently. This goes for all age groups.

  2. Ryan, I think that the myth about new teachers is based in the digital native myth, that younger teachers who grew up with technology will magically be better able to use it for educational purposes.

    But it seems to be a contradiction when you say that more PD is needed, but then later say that teachers who infuse technology are just wired differently. That would imply that more PD really won’t help that much.

  3. PD is key if teachers are to try out new technologies. When PD in ongoing and embedded in the nitty-gritty of every day, teachers will see and experience how new tech (and especially web based tools) can transform teaching and learning. This first hand experience is crucial for building confidence and I don’t think this is simply explained by age. Learning new tools and transformation are possible at any age. New teachers might lack the confidence to try new methods, especially if they’re concerned about ‘not rocking the boat’ in a culture that is closed and resistant to change.

  4. Parts of this conversation remind me of the post on leadership a week or so ago. It is also my experience that teachers who effectively use technology are “wired differently”. It is fairly established that people have personality “types” which dictate their actions and reactions to systems they encounter; I’m speaking of Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram personality tests, Jungian archetypes, etc.

    It makes sense that some of these types- particularly, the curious, the fearless, and the humorous- would have a proclivity towards integrating tech. The real question is to what degree PD can empower someone with a more “resisting” personality. Doubtlessly, there are good and bad PD models. The fact is, merely dumping an object in someone’s lap and then showing them what buttons do what isn’t going to automatically spur everyone’s mind to begin thinking “Oh, I could do this and this and that with this new doohickey”-even if the PD covers “effective” integration.

    Ineffective PD is an extension of the standardized, “best practices” mentality so prevalent throughout education. Truly, there should be an attitudinal shift towards using technology in a more individualized way- where the teachers’ and students’ comfort levels, experience, and personalities are acknowledged during the integration process. This is why it is extremely important for students and teachers to have a strong voice in purchasing new technology. Finding technology that has the “right fit” will always result in more educational needs being met than fast-tracking a school into the 22nd century.

    Incidentally, involving students in PD and integration reaps rewards because they inherently have those traits which seem to be shared among teachers who really embrace technology in the classroom. Students don’t have these traits because of any “digital native” myth, but because their personalities have yet to be fully formed.

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