Digital divide – what can go wrong!

Wrangling with online tools has become part of the daily work expectation for many – but not for many of our teachers in schools and universities it seems.

The more I work with educators, the more I worry about the learning opportunities we are creating for our students. Of course, I am generalising here, but nevertheless, I remain perplexed by the idea that teachers feel they are too “time poor” to learn something new each day. Every day, teachers expect their students to ‘go forth’ and find new information, learn new ways of approaching a topic, write another essay, fill another wiki, write another blog post, make another movie, sit another exam… know, it’s endless.  So students should stick at it…but not teachers?

Last Saturday I attended a wonderful full day of workshops at Tara School,  run by some trusty colleagues for the ICTENSW teachers.  Attendees came from city and country locations – some even found their way there from Singapore.  My workshop is one that I plan to run in a  few different locations in Australia and NZ during the year.  I wasn’t sure if it was really worthwhile – but Saturday reminded me of the great digital divide that is emerging  in teaching ranks. Here were keen teachers, willing to learn – what about the rest?

It’s not an issue of resourcing – it’s an issue of understanding and capability.  We need to make sure we remain sufficiently skilled to actually be quality mentors for our students!

Two areas stick out like a sore thumb – digital footprint and information seeking.

It’s the same problem we have always had – the expectation that only teacher librarians need to really know how to find stuff! I’m afraid that in our digital era, the stuff finding has to become a core digital skill for all teachers.  This is all the more paramount, when you juxtapose information seeking skills and knowledge creation strategies with digital footprint/digital citizenship and the power of positive digital interactions for professional learning.

The two are not mutually exclusive!

Learning to wrangle the web correctly and well  for information, communication, collaboration, social networking, gaming etc is an essential core skill for 21st century students.

I created a Livebinder to drill into some of these questions.  We didn’t get to do very much at all, even with two hours,  but at least the resource is there to learn more!

The rationale behind Knoweldge 2.0 is acknowledging the information maze; recognising that googling is the default skill that poor teaching promotes; finding out what else is around and why you would craft different approaches to information seeking; discovering the difference between seeking, and having information & news delivered with the power of RSS;  considering the power of academic databases and RSS; pegging cognitive skills into the mix, and dipping into the Howard Rheingold bunch of goodies; and then setting up your own personalised strategies.

All that can take a day to work through, not just a workshop. But it IS the sequence of thinking that every teacher needs to go through at some point if they are going to consider themselves as proper participants in Knowledge 2.0 or 21st century learning, or whatever else you want to label the learning  of today’s kids!

Let me know if you’d like to have a workshop like this at your school or institution.

9 thoughts on “Digital divide – what can go wrong!

  1. Pingback: #Change11 Education system, Education Stories and the Digital Generation | Learner Weblog

  2. Pingback: Digital divide – what can go wrong! | Digital Citizenship in Schools |

  3. So true! It’s inevitable for teachers to start keeping up with technology today if they want to keep education going. Sure, pen and paper will still remain and be used, but we’re definitely starting to see how the web and social media are starting to become an integral part of students’ learning. As a student assistant for DML Central, we focus on how digital media plays a role in society. Evidently, it does have a large impact on how we communicate and interact with one another. So, your post makes a great point about teachers needing to learn how to be more active with the web and such.

  4. what a thought provoking entry! As a practicing classroom teacher with so many expectations placed upon me, it truly is difficult to find the time and someone with the expertise to teach me what I need to know regarding technology. I can barely use my interactive whiteboard effectively each day-but then it was mounted too high for the children to use properly or safely! I think it is also a matter of the message being communicsated effectively about what is truly important to the administrators and letting go of some sacred cows ourselves.

  5. Gosh Lydia. You just brought a flood of memories back! Although in my teacher college days, the essays had to be hand written. Penmanship impressed the nuns. I do remember bashing away the keyboard to type up my uni assignments and getting my fingers jammed in between the keys. Heaven help the typewriter if it ran out of ribbon two pages from the finish line!

    Anyone remember the Jelly Pads we used for creating worksheets? One would handwrite / draw up the worksheet with a purple pencil and lay it on the sticky gelatin layered in a scone tray to create an image in reverse. Then each new sheet was rubbed onto the image in the gelatin pad to produce a copy. A really clever teacher could get 19-20 copies off that one image! Sadly most of us had well over 50 kids in the class and had two options: make three jelly pads or heat the jelly pad in a warm oven to melt the jelly thus dispersing the image to start all over again.

    Sounds like I am drifting off the subject but I remember clearly that we had to be creative, resourceful and innovative with our teaching and always keeping up with the latest jelly pad recipes. It was an expectation in our profession.

  6. Thank you both for the observations about how we keep needing to learn and for the wonderful resources in the Knowledge 2.0. I always make a point of telling my fellow teachers that back in the dark ages when I went to college, I had to prepare my essays on a manual typewriter. If I wanted copies, I needed to use carbon paper or to type on a ditto. Of course we have kept learning–but we need to be pioneers, breaking new ground!

    Again, thanks for the great post.

  7. Pingback: Bursting the Bubble | ICT Assist in the Classroom

  8. Lesleigh, these initiatives by Lismore Diocese are really fantastic – and a wonderful way to grow a ‘grass roots’digital conversion. The scope and range of your work is impressive too. I’m so glad to hear about the success you are having!

  9. Re – Digital Divide

    THANKYOU Jude for highlighting this glaringly obvious issue. Teachers and parents need find opportunities to bring themselves up to speed on the educational, social and networking tools available to our youth. Our students are so tech savvy but still far too naive. They must have adults to help guide their decision making.

    Now that internet connection is so mobile and so private and so very very hard to monitor, the lack of knowledge of supervising adults compounds the growing divide.

    Who in their right mind would take on an upper primary or secondary maths class if they themselves cannot function past their 3X tables? Sadly it can happen with technology at every level.

    I now work with educators who are willing to put their hand up for online mentoring in web 2 tools where basic ICT knowledge is a perquisite for the course. Passion and thirst for knowledge essential.

    It never ceases to amaze me that even the ICT literate adults are gobsmacked at the variety, power, availability and ease with which these web2 tools can be utilised for education.

    And so the seed is planted. And grows. The questions and discussions turn to adult responsibility and student digital citizenship.

    In term 4, 2010, a 10 week Web2 Tools online diocesan course was offered as a trial in the hope of drawing in about 20 teachers seeking Institute Teacher accreditation and we were swamped with 70 applicants! A reality check gave 52 applicants the opportunity to do the first ever Web2 Tools for Teachers course. 44 completed the course amongst the pressures of the final weeks of the year.

    This year I was hired to create more such courses and mentor 100 participants a term in Web2 Tools, Beyond Web2 and Digital Citizenship. Nearly 90 people from the teaching ranks, principals and CEO personnel are working on line this term. A few of those 8 teachers who did not complete last year’s course will join the current group mid course. More teachers want to join future courses along with CEO leaders, principals, APs, SSOs (support staff for IT) and teachers aides.

    Now we are scrambling to support educators to close that divide through online mentoring. The success of these courses spread through word of mouth: teachers who were keen to learn more and support their students have encouraged others to jump on board.

    They are out there and we are here.

    By accident or design we need to break the bubble of ‘not knowing what they don’t know’ and close the gap.

    It is worthwhile Jude – they are out there. Keep up the good work!

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