Ed Tech Myths





MYTH 1: Teachers are just trying to show off on social media, like Twitter and blogs.

There is an aspect to social media that promotes sharing our "best selves." I do it with my own personal Facebook page. An example would be the 35 pictures I take of my daughter so that I can post one cute, smiling picture. I don't post the ones that are blurry as she scoots away or with a frowning face. I post the best. The same can be said for what I share about my classroom. However, the motivation behind sharing isn't just to show off or get attention. The reason that most teachers share is to reflect on their own practice, share resources with others, or get feedback.

Reflection is an important part of being a good teacher. Asking myself how a lesson went, what went well, what would I change, are ways that I improve. I either do this informally (like think about a lesson on my drive home) or formally (by writing a blog post). Reflecting doesn't always mean that I only share the best either. Check out this post where I go into why my lesson wasn't so great!



Another reason that I blog and tweet is to share resources. If I come up with something that works well, I want to share that so other teachers can try it too! I've developed a pretty great group of Twitter followers that include people in my own district as well as educators around the country. I love being able to share things that I do in my class and know that I am helping and influencing classrooms and students outside of my own!


Finally, I blog and tweet to get feedback. Check out my post on "Closing the Gap." I tweeted about it and got some great feedback from some of my Twitter friends. Not all of their feedback was "Annie, you are awesome." It was genuine feedback that gave me new things to think about and other ways to look at the issue. I learned so much and grew as a teacher just because of it.



MYTH 2: Teachers that blog must have more free time.

Right now, I'm sitting at school on the last day before break. The students have left and so have most of the teachers. I've been thinking about this post for the past week and wanted a little quiet time to work on it. So here I am.



I don't have more free time than other teachers, but I do choose to spend some of my downtime blogging. It's a hobby. I like to write and be creative, so this blog gives me that space to do it. If blogging doesn't seem like fun to you, I would suggest not doing it. Everyone has things that seem more fun than others. When something feels more like art and less like work, you will want to do more of it. That is how I feel about blogging and Twitter. There are definitely times that I'm not feeling like it, so I take a little break. But, when I'm feeling like writing or have a creative idea for a new post, I can't wait to have a chance to work on it.



MYTH 3: Teachers that use technology value tech over instruction.

There was a time, when our district was new to some technology, that I felt like this. I do think before we knew better, sometimes the question was, "how can I use technology today" instead of "what do I need my students to learn today." Now, I think about standards and the learning first. After I establish the what, I think about the how. Sometimes technology fits great and sometimes it doesn't. 



MYTH 4: Using tech means you have to be "paperless."

Using less paper is a benefit of technology. I make waaaaay less copies that I used to. But doing a lot of worksheets was never really my thing anyway. There are times I want my students collaborating on white boards, other times they are adding notes in their interactive notebooks, and at times they are typing on their math blog or doing problems on Class Kick. The point is not to use zero paper, but I do use less. The other benefit of technology is using educational platforms to get links and materials to students. If I need to share something with students, I can often do it digitally which is so much faster than having to run down to the copier! Again, less paper but also convenient! 



MYTH 5: It's easier to use technology in _____(enter subject).

No matter what subject, I have heard teachers lament that it just isn't easy to use tech in their subject.

"Oh sure, in math it's easy... not in language arts where kids need to type. They can't do that on an iPad!"

"Oh, there are so many resources for science, in social studies there just isn't engaging stuff available!"

"Oh, I wish I taught Social Studies, that would be so much easier with tech. It is just hard in math where you really just need to write on paper."

"Oh, there is so much available to read online for language arts! Try teaching science with tech where we do labs! I don't want kids to spill on their devices."

"Oh, core subjects have it so easy. I teach (art/music/PE/etc) and I would have to create everything myself to use technology."

Sure there are apps or resources that are content specific, but there are also lots of ways that students can create that crosses content lines. Think about blogging in any content area or creating a stop action movie to show understanding. The possibilities are limitless!



MYTH 6: Kids these days...

"Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man's estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions set by its gilded youth--all these lack some of the regulatives they still have in older lands with more conservative conditions." 

Doesn't this sound like it could be written today about students and their need for tech? It's was actually written in 1904 by psychologist and educator Granville Stanley Hall. It was published in The Psychology of Adolescence, in which he warned that it was a dangerous time for young people. I like this quote because I think it shows that every generation worries that the kids will stray too far from the values and traditions of the time.



The modern equivalent might be the adults that worry that "kids these days," can't write in cursive, won't learn how to type properly, don't read enough actual books, don't interact with each other enough, etc etc. While all of these concerns do have their place in education conversations, I think it's important to keep our concerns grounded. Students are adapting to their world and that world is different than the world teachers and other adults grew up in.  


MYTH 7: Using technology means kids don't interact with each other.

No matter how much technology your classroom has access to, it is up to the teacher to provide rich opportunities for students to engage and interact with their peers. There are ways to do this with technology such as commenting on each other's blogs. However, there are also more traditional class discussions and cooperative learning that can take place in the classroom. As always, for this to work, students need to feel physically, emotionally, and academically safe. Again, it is up to the teacher to set the norms that make students feel safe. Once these are in place, students can interact with each other and learn from each other. Check out this from YouCubed about setting up positive norms in math class:



Sometimes I see teachers expect a class discussion to go well without a sense of community built in the classroom. It might be easy to blame technology for the reason a discussion doesn't go well, when in fact it is the lack of consistently building that safe culture that prevents the discussion from going well. 



MYTH 8: I don't have time to learn new things in technology.

Time. It's always a challenge. There is never enough. It is always listed as a barrier whenever trying to implement something new. There never is quite enough time to think about any of the important but time consuming initiatives such as: co-teaching, collaborative planning, examining student work, curriculum mapping, formative assessment, reflection, committees, social and emotional learning, professional development, or technology. I don't have an answer to this, but what I can say is that you don't have to learn all of the technology. Learn one new thing. Try it, refine it, try it again. Then try something new. I think when some teachers take the "all or nothing" approach, it does seem overwhelming. It is much more management and time-saving to take it one step at a time. Additionally, using something like Twitter can cut down on the time you have to research things on your own. Reaching out to an online PLN of teachers (such as #MTBoS) that have tried things and willing to share their best tips and resources has saved me countless hours.



What ed tech myths have you encountered that you would add to the list?


Comments

  1. Awesome post, awesome ideas, Annie! I also feel like blogging is a hobby, a creative outlet, a place to reflect, and record our journeys. I love how we stay in touch because of blogs and twitter, too!
    That, and so many great points you made in this post!
    Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! Connecting with other teachers (including you!) really moves my practice and motivates me. :)

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  2. Great ideas! My favorite part is "it is up to the teacher to provide rich opportunities..." It's up to the teacher to foster the culture and thinking they want to see, which takes time and patience. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I agree, time and patience are so important. It's sometimes a hard sell when we all would like results so quickly!

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