On Teachers, Leaders, and Technology

In locations where computers, laptops, the Internet, handhelds, and related devices have penetrated into the consumer market, ICT has become a transparent part of life making it difficult to perceive its strong sociocultural influences. From inside one of those cultures, we hardly recognize the extent to which ICT changes how businesses buy and sell, performers entertain, audiences are entertained, citizens engage in political discourse, workers work, governments govern, bullies bully, romances begin (and end), and friends and families stay in touch.

Conspicuously absent from this list is how educators educate. The generation of educators entering the profession today never experienced school without computers connected to the Internet. They are the students about whom we first complained, “they have their phones connected to their hands.” Despite this long experience, we continue to struggle getting educators to use technology.

I have no debate with faculty who ask people like me who encourage them to use technology to be sure the devices and systems are secure, reliable, and robust. In fact, I prefer they ask me to address their concerns before they use it. This makes me design better systems than I would otherwise, and I have a responsibility to fix what they say is wrong with it (even if I don’t believe it to be a problem).

What does bother me, and what is (to use the term my colleagues and I have been using lately) “a bad look for our profession,” is:

  • the immediate rejection of anything new;
  • continued complaints about time and other demands after rejecting tools that would address the complaints;
  • continuously changes the conditions you insist be met before adopting;
  • insisting your use of technology changes your “working conditions,” thus it must be negotiated;
  • do not seeing learning about technology tools as a professional responsibility;
  • complaining about technology, but not to those who have any control over it.

Of course, each of these points can be countered. Is is a “bad look” for school and technology leaders who:

  • change systems with little reason or warning;
  • ignore faculty complaints (if they say it needs to be fixed, listen to them!);
  • do not provide adequate opportunity for support;
  • complaining about teachers who do not use technology to people other than the teachers themselves.