If we don’t see the value, we won’t.
For the last 4 years of my teaching career I have been a part of the Connected Educator program with Regina Catholic School Divisions, meaning I have a class set of laptops. Because of this, I have been trying to always push myself a little more when it comes to using technology. This isn’t always easy, but I do think it is important. I think of how much I have grown as a teacher and how I use my devices in my own classroom. In my experience, I have found there to be
THREE Major Challenges for Blended Educators
- Growth opportunities for teachers
- Rapid advancement in technology
- Fighting the current system
As I’m sure most teachers have already heard, simply using devices is not enough, and students and teachers alike must learn how “meaningful” (that ironic word that usually means nothing) technology use can lead to deeper levels of understanding, and in turn, a more successful educational experience. But the thing is, this is hard. Teachers spend four years, along with multiple internships, to learn how to effectively do their job. Yet, the current expectation seems to be that teachers just implement digital media in their class with little to no training. It truly can be a daunting task. This leads to a lot of teachers not even wanting to try it out. This pandemic can be a tremendous learning experience. Just look at how many people were able to become very proficient with technology. This, of course is a combination of things. First of all, the time and effort was put in my divisions to help teachers prepare, because divisions saw the value in it. But also, teachers saw that value in it, as well. And because everyone was willing to value it, so it became valued. Both divisions and teachers need to be willing to put the time and effort into this, or else what is the point?
Rapid Advancement in Technology
Now the next issue. It seems like every year there is something new to learn, and that makes it difficult as well. It seems like I just put in so much time to learn one thing, only for a new thing to replace it. From colleagues, I hear this complaint quite often, and I think I have only recently come to a solution. For me, this was something that I sort of just came to terms with. There will always be something new, and I will not be able to be the expert of it all. But why can’t I keep doing me? And others can keep doing them. In this way, I think I was able to make a huge step forward. This not only benefitted me, and my class, but also my colleagues. By everyone being able to be the master of their own domain (not in the Seinfeld way…), it also created a community where sharing what we know became a byproduct. I have led sessions on what I do, and I have listened to others share what they do. Even though I said that this is one of the common challenges of blended learning, with the right conditions, this is ACTUALLY a strength. Collaborate with your colleagues, collaborate with your students, collaborate with your division, and you will have an effective way to overcome the issue of rapidly developing technological advancements.
Fighting the current system
Here is the big one. Why are we teaching? Ask that question to a hundred different teachers and you’re going to get a lot of different answers. If I’m being honest, as a high school teacher, the answer that is suggested (maybe not specifically said out loud) is to get kids their high school diplomas). As long as grad rates are up, we’re good.
Because of this, a lot of people see spending a lot of time trying to teach yourself and your students how to be proficient with technology a colossal waste of time. This is where I want to reference the title of this blog. When we see the value in things, we are willing to put the time in. In other words, there may need to be a shift in the way that teachers are shown the benefits of such implementations; without this shift, it will remain difficult to develop a rationale for putting in the extra work to do so. Consequently, teachers will continue to use a supplementary approach to implementing digital media as opposed to embracing a shift toward a learner-centered classroom. And that is kind of the goal with a blended learning approach.
What do you think?