With many kids, they still get excited about using any form of ICT, whether it be the sole class iPad at school, or Mum’s mobile phone while waiting at the doctor’s. ICT is still thought of as a novelty, a new thing to play with.
Christine, a fellow student, brought it up recently in her blog, “Response to blog - Teachers using technology as a bargaining chip”, while responding to a similar post herself. It deals with an interesting point, the fact that technology still gets used as a reward in school.
If we can change the attitude towards ICTs, then I think we can also change this problem for the better.
As adults, many of us still tend to think of ICTs as scary, or off-putting, groaning inwardly when told we need to create an ICT artefact, etc. Our own attitude is holding us back. I spent a while the other evening helping a fellow student in another course with submission of their assignment, because they couldn’t get their head around some small but confusing ICT issue. They were apologising profusely, but it wasn’t their fault – they just needed more practice, and I firmly believe it would become second nature to them eventually.
Repetition of tasks is well known to be a good teacher, because the understanding and familiarity are built up over time, and become firmly entrenched in our memory.
So with repetition and practice, the ‘digital migrants’ among us can become ‘natives’. We can stop complaining about ICT (for some of the time, anyway), and start enjoying the endless possibilities that have opened up before us. But the best part is yet to come.
Our attitude changes to a more optimistic one. And hey presto, it rubs off on our students! Who would’ve guessed? We practice what we preach, we walk the walk, and our students will experience modelling of positive uses of ICT. As teachers, it starts with us.
Once we change our attitude to ICTs from being scary to hopeful, we can also change our belief that ICTs are too expensive to use, and only for rewards or treats. They are tools to be used! So, let’s use them!
Just like we found out, practice makes perfect. By embedding the use of ICTs on a regular basis in all areas of our classroom, they cease to be thought of as rewards, or novelty items, or cool toys, and they begin to be thought of as tools. Tools that have a purpose, maybe even purposes that we haven’t thought of yet.
But if we can get our students used to the idea of using ICT as a tool, just as they would a pencil, a ruler, the MAB maths blocks, or any one of the many things we’ll end up with in our room – then they can start to think of it as just another tool, nothing too exciting to get worked up about. Fun and engaging, yes, but not only that to the exclusion of all else.
But what they can get excited about, with the right attitude and encouragement from us, is the wonderful ways that they’ll put those tools to use, and the amazing things they will create.
No more toys, just tools, wonderful tools. Tools to unleash their imagination, not to reward obedience.