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Image courtesy of J Mark Dodds

Reposted from sbaglia.com

A slightly more critical blog post sandwiched in between the generally positive posts (I hope they are positive! They are, aren't they?).

I've been working with teachers and technology for over four years now. I'm often suggesting ways that teachers can use technology in their classrooms. Often, my role can be in a classroom, supporting teachers to get students using something they've not used before.

We tend to believe that kids are naturally tech-savvy, but often, they aren't. Often, they need support to use a new tool. Often, they don't use it correctly. Often, the technology can pose its own problems.

What I find frustrating is the speed with which many teachers will become discouraged, because the kids initially aren't proficient with the new technology when compared to pen and paper. Although it shouldn't be this way, I often find my enemy is 'pen and paper' - rightly or wrongly, I feel I need to prove to the teacher that, on balance, tech has some benefit over the old ways.

This ignores the 'implementation dip' - which basically says that when you're trying something new - anything, not just technology - to improve your performance, in the initial stages, you'll find yourself working harder for less performance. It's only when you persevere with the change that you find performance improves.

Advocates of pen and paper (who are usually, but not always, detractors of technology) will, at this point in the dip, claim that this is why they don't use technology, and are able to justify their own resistance.

I find this patently unfair. Think about how much time goes into getting students proficient in expressing themselves with pen and paper. Quite literally, years. And yet, with technology, there is an expectation that students get it instantly. Imagine if we gave up on our kids as easily when using the old technology - technology which is far less relevant to the world they're going into than the new stuff. If we are to be fair about it, we need to give kids the chance - the same chance we give them with pens, pencils, crayons - to become proficient at using technology to show understanding before we are better able to compare it to what we have been doing.

When comparing the two, all I'm asking for is a level playing field.

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