I Can Teach Without a Computer

For those that have heard me speak this may be hard to believe, but one of the foundations of my beliefs is that if you can do something better without technology, don’t use technology. However, this assumption is predicated on the premis that one can effectively use technology. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier/better. Its misuse tends to drain our energy, increase our stress levels and make us work more, not less.

Look at the teaching technologies from the end of the last century – the overhead projector and the VCR. Would anyone argue that those devices were a drain on our time and energy? Sure the VCR didn’t work all the time and the bulb blew on the overhead, but those teaching tools were so integrated into daily practice that they became seamless. Could teachers have taught without them? Absolutely. But why would they? The VCR added visual learning and story telling in a much more effective, engaging and convient way than its predecessors. The overhead ment you could face the class when you taught, and save your notes for the next lesson. I have taught for quite a few years, but I have never seen a Level One overhead projector course.

When we talk about the role of technology for the 21st Century teacher, I think we often frame our questions wrong. Until technologies like interactive white boards, cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media become as seamless in the class as the overhead projector, we will continue to miss the point about teaching 21st century skills. It’s not about the technology – it’s about teaching communication, social responsibility, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration in a way that its relevant for the world of our students. And how can those skills and attitudes be relevant for them if they aren’t using the tools that are shaping their world?

Perhaps the argument shouldn’t be “if you can do something better with out technology, don’t use technology.” Instead we should probably ask ourselves “Which Century’s tools should we use?”


2 thoughts on “I Can Teach Without a Computer

  1. Rick I really enjoyed today’s PD on the Portal and what possibilities it has. I’m writing this at 10:08 so you know you had a pretty huge impact on my brain this afternoon.

    “It’s not about the technology – it’s about teaching communication, social responsibility, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration in a way that its relevant for the world of our students. And how can those skills and attitudes be relevant for them if they aren’t using the tools that are shaping their world?”

    This quote from your blog is funny to me because just this September the staff at Bisset lined up the overhead projectors in the hallway for the custodian to “recycle/dispose of”. It was almost like a funeral for them all.

    I am working with a group of people at Bisset that have a HUGE range of tech ability/comfort level. I find the SmartBoard to be simply a tool, and it is really mostly there as my mouse and display to show the students what I am doing. Beyond that…you hit a wall with using it (besides the Senteos response that have a purpose for my class as a review/old-school multiple choice testing tool). I am personally not in favour of diving further into using outdated technology. Why even attempt to “master” Notebook software now that limits student use to 1 or 2 students at a time. I want ALL my students engaged ALL the time.

    I really want to dive right into the Portal and get my students collaborating at a new level. I know they would embrace it. I watched a few of the Share videos by tkorte. Most of the use is at the junior high/senior high level. I can see students at the 5/6 level also using this effectively. It’s even possible at the primary level, because there are teachers out there that would dive in as well.

    Like the David Warlick session I attended 2 years ago, this is all SCARY stuff for most of the teaching population. If you haven’t kept up with technology personally, staff have a really difficult time with it professionally as a teacher.

    I’m rambling on here, but what the Share site offers and proposes with GDocs stands to be game changing for me as I continue to move forward with technology.

    P.S. I created a Ning site for my class at mrlastiwka.ning.com about a year ago. It’s sponsored by Pearson, I’ll invite you to check it out…The share site possibilities may replace it eventually, but it has been popular with my students.

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