My online 21st Century Web Resources for Teachers and Students class had this discussion question this week. “A veteran teacher says, “I don’t understand what the big fuss is over the Internet. Books are all my students and I need to learn.’ What would you do and/or to this teacher to help him/her move onto the ‘Information Highway’?”
My answer was this: The true nature of a teacher is to impart to others their knowledge. The very notion that we might not know how to do something is scary to many teachers. We all have been afraid to try something new. We don't want to look or feel foolish. Unplanned & uncomfortable internet situations making us look inept are inevitable. Technology is not something that is easy for every person to embrace. It is intimidating. It is not always reliable, it has inappropriate and unrelated things that will undoubtedly waste valuable class time.As adults we often forget that learning is not just for our students but also for adults. In the case of technology it is easy to understand why a teacher might not want to use computers, the internet or anything else technology related.This is especially true when a book is a perfectly good source of information for their students.
Teachers need to believe that technology is not an optional part of our lives any more. It is our job as educators to prepare our students for the real world and to help them navigate the internet. The vast resources that the internet encompasses cannot be a choice to use in our teaching just because we are reluctant to change. Our society does not stop- it continues to change and evolve. As an educator, we must continue to change with society. Without the courage to do this, we do not prepare our students to be thinking, problem solving people.
I would urge any teacher that believes that books are perfectly fine sources of information for their class to start with themselves. The reluctant teacher needs to begin looking at the resources online available for them to use. Once a teacher sees the resources that others around the world have shared, it becomes very difficult to turn your back on new ideas and ways to teach a lesson. I think pointing teachers in the right direction to online resources would be a really good first step. I would try and be the teachers guide helping them navigate through websites like Thinkfinity and the The top 100 sites for teachers. This cannot be all we do. We need to be their support person. I would have the teacher think of small things that they might be able to incorporate to make their lesson come alive for their students. I would help them to become better searchers for internet sites that are applicable to their teaching area. Finally, I would ask if they would observe a teacher of the same grade level and area of study that is using technology effectively. Watching someone else (and the problems that might happen, handled professionally) is an excellent way to embrace something new.Without a guide through the technology highway, a person can easily become overwhelmed and turned off. The teacher needs to be given TIME to explore and learn. The internet is a vital part of our future and a critical part of our students lives.