Sunday, May 15, 2016

5 Myths About Ed-Tech That Keep You (And Your Students) From Being Amazing

It might not look like it, but the infographic below is my story from the past few years as I worked with several teachers. In that time I regularly heard the same misconceptions from them as I encouraged more tech integration and creative projects in all classes.

I call these misconceptions and myths, but in reality they started to sound more like excuses. That's understandable. We all know change isn't pleasant.

But whether someone actually believes these myths and is looking for a way to innovate or if they've just used them as a reason to do business as usual, I'm countering each of myth with a few ideas that I know to be true.

I and the many teachers I work with are not perfect examples of innovative educators, but together we've seen that change is possible. We've seen that a technology project in a core subject can let students shine in exciting ways. We've realized that when it all doesn't go perfectly, it's not a bad thing to struggle and learn in front of the students.

So I put some of the things I learned into the infographic below. You can view the full image here.

I have each frame of it below along with thoughts, resources and links than I could include in the graphic.

Myth #1:  Students are already good with tech.

Reality:  Students learn tech tools quickly, but they don't use them in meaningful ways.

I've been impressed with how quickly students can learn to use new tools. Not intimidated by tech, they jump in and figure out how to make it do what they want almost immediately.

When it comes to doing something meaningful, though, they have a lot to learn. If we look for evidence of skills for success in today's world, such as writing a blog post someone would read or making a persuasive, watchable video, we can see there's a lot of room for learning.

I included a few stats in the infographic to support this. They're from these studies:

To illustrate how quickly students can learn new tools, this post and this one give examples of how I introduced students to iMovie. Many times it's just a matter of showing them what's possible first.

Myth #2:  We haven't had enough good professional development.

Reality:  You can take charge of your own PD.

I'm glad when I see some teachers discover they really don't need me. They realize a quick Google search or a video on YouTube can help them learn what they needed.

The main idea for this section of the infographic came out of an informal survey I sent out to my PLN (and some of them shared with their own). I wrote about it in detail in this post. The big take-aways are in this slide.

  • Over 70% of the respondents said they learn new tech tools on their own or from colleagues.
  • Only around 2% of them claimed that traditional styles of district provided PD helped them learn to use the tech tools they rely on in the classroom.
Now, it is my job to help teachers and I'm not trying to get out of that responsibility. My point is that we can't just stay where we're at, always waiting for that perfect PD session to give us what we need. Limited budgets and different needs makes it an unlikely scenario. Besides that, the vast majority of the people making a difference do not attribute their success to such an experience.

Myth #3:  There's not enough time to learn all those tools.

Reality:  You can make time to take your next step.

Innovation can sound intimidating, but often it boils down to identifying your next small step and taking it. We all have a next step, and for all of us that next step is a challenge. When it comes to modeling lifelong learning, though, do we really have a good excuse to not regularly take that step?

This slide is based on quote from Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis. I love her blog and podcasts. She is a model of an innovative, lifelong learner.

Myth #4:  Tech takes too much time from my class.

Reality:  It doesn't have to.

All I can say in response to this myth is that I've seen teachers integrate technology in ways that didn't take up a lot of class time. Yes, sometimes it can take more than it should, but this slide lists some practical tips I've learned from working with many classes.

I also want to link to a couple blog posts about very simple tech projects. If you need a first step, these might be good starting points:

  • Infopics - Simple tools for adding text to pictures
  • Audio recordings using TwistedWave - This simple online audio recorder integrates with Google Drive and can result in a very quick project at the end of a lesson.

Myth #5:  Tech is important, but ________ is more important.

Reality:  Effective tech use will help accomplish more of what's most important.

Some will say this point is too idealistic. It's a simple fact, though, that a person who can effectively use the best tool for a job has an advantage over anyone who can't use that tool. I want that advantage for the students that I work with.

This final slide is based on my AMP Up What's Working activity. It's a great resource to get teachers thinking about the proper use of technology in their work.

When we get beyond the idea that tech just makes things easier and saves time, we can clearly see the advantages that it offers. We can more easily identify the best tool for accomplishing what matters most.

What other myths, misconceptions or excuses have you heard when it comes to incorporating more ed-tech? Are there some reality statements above that you still disagree with? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments or by email.

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