Who is responsible?

This story should get your blood moving/boiling this morning.

Students struggle with digital skills because their teachers lack confidence

It’s an interesting article from Australia, references are made to the Information and Communications Technology Capacity and, of course, the results of testing students.

So, who’s to blame?

If you stick to the title, it’s obviously the teachers. 

But let’s step back and cut a little slack here.  How many of today’s teachers grew up using technology appropriately in their own learning?  How many of today’s teachers are self-taught which typically means learning a skill set to satisfy their needs?  How much of the technology that is infused into schools is actually supported other than making sure that it actually works?

I think that the success numbers for reading, writing, and numeracy help build the argument.  For years, professional learning growth and opportunities have centred around these skills.  They’re seen as necessary for success.  Into the fray comes digital literacy. 

Isn’t it time that it has the same importance for staff development? 

It’s not an easy target to hit.  The examples of digital literacy skills in the article are wide open to interpretation as to just what they exactly mean.  And, the skill to do it varies from computer to computer, software to software, operating system to operating system.

At present, we’re all over the map.  I just took a look at my Hootsuite columns for my groups and I see discussions ranging from coding in the classroom to looking for a simple program to support reading on an iPad.

Given all this, you could hardly blame teachers for a “lack of confidence”.

Does the responsibility lie there?  Do we force things to get better by testing teachers as suggested in the article?

Or does the responsibility lie equally with the school, the school district, the Education Services, Teacher Training Universities, or a collaborative of all?

I’d be very interested in your thoughts and reflections on this topic.  Please comment below.

5 thoughts on “Who is responsible?

  1. I think that it needs to be a shared responsibility as you suggest. That said, I’m not sure if it’s okay to use a lack of understanding of technology as an excuse. I wonder if these days we need to understand how technology can be used to facilitate learning, and sometimes that means we need to teach ourselves how to use it or engage in some self-directed PD. Teaching involves lifelong learning — is this not an example of that?

    Aviva

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  2. Sarah Sanders says:

    I agree with you Doug and Aviva – we all need to take ownership of this situation. I am the first to admit that I often lack confidence when it comes to technology, but when push comes to shove I will learn what I need to in order to use it as effectively as I can. I would feel so much more able to embark on the process if I could engage in professional learning that meets my needs to learn the skills, but then I also gives me time to practice with it before I try and use it with my students. I find my greatest limitation at the moment is the inconsistent performance of the devices/systems in the schools. It is hard to make use of the technology to promote learning when wifi is not strong enough or the system is down. If we really want to integrate technology into our classrooms we need better access for all.

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  3. I likewise agree with joint ownership of this. Teachers are a huge group and as such tend to be very representative of the professional population. It means they’re going to be all over the place in their tech skills. Ultimately minimum competencies need to be articulated presumably by OTC which perhaps should also make possible the opportunity to train to meet those competencies perhaps through online modules. It would also seem reasonable that shortcomings would be identified through the performance review process.

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  4. Hi Doug

    There is a lot that the article doesn’t mention that are important learning lessons for all countries. From 7 years from 2008 we had the Digital Education Revolution (DER) in Australia that provided 1-to-1 devices to all public high school students in years 9-12 through out our country.

    As a result this meant most schools (public and private) throughout Australia had 1-to-1 devices for all students. Majority of the emphasis was on devices and infrastructure ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Education_Revolution ) Education here is managed at a State level; so there was variations on how it was rolled out however generally the decisions were made on a per school basis.

    IMHO what Australia failed to appreciate was the importance of having staff to support integration of technology. Australia doesn’t have technology specialists and technology integration staff like you have in School Districts in USA and Canada.

    What happened was our teachers had access to the devices but not the support necessary to understand how technology could transform their learning environments.

    I’m fortunate enough through my work to see how technology is integrated in different locations throughout the World. The most successful programs support their teachers integrating technology by providing technology integration staff who work closely with their teachers within classrooms.

    In terms of Pre-service Teacher training I believe that students should be fully immersed in integrating technology through their entire training like how Alec Couros and Dean Shareski run their programs.

    Sue

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  5. Part of my role in my school board is supporting students and teachers to integrate technology in learning and teaching. I have found that I may impress when I’m demonstrating how to use the tool but I have a better chance of convincing when I show how they can use the technology tomorrow.

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