If we want to ever get technophobes comfortable with technology, those of us who love the stuff have got to stop being tech snobs. I’m at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference where tech lovers in education unite. Unfortunately, there are occasional wafts of divisiveness that kill the otherwise pervasive spirit of collaboration and enthusiastic learning here:
- Said to a publisher in the exhibit hall as he walked past dismissively: “I don’t read [printed] books. I have no use for them.”
- Tweeted on Twitter: “I can’t believe tech people are hearing things at this conference that are 100% brand new to them. Very SCARY.”
- Announced by a presenter in a session: “It burns me up inside when teachers tell me they’re using technology and then show me a PowerPoint they created. Doesn’t that burn you guys up?”
Um, no, it doesn’t.
You can’t shame educators into using technology any more than you can shame kids into behaving. Does it work? Yeah, sometimes. But it also breeds resentment, bitterness, and fear which make learning twice as hard.
If people are resistant to your ideas or slow to adapt them, it might be because they sense a patronizing, conscending attitude, one that you don’t intend to show but shines through nevertheless. They know you’re mocking them behind their backs to your fellow techies, which makes them resistant not only to you but to all the wonderful technology that you represent. It’s tough for learners to be open to new possibilities when they feel judged and defensive.
So, if you really want non-tech people to incorporate tech use into their instructional practice, you have to inspire them, not embarrass them. You have to demonstrate the passion you want others to exhibit. Be so enthusiastic about what you do that it’s contagious. Make experiences with technology so enjoyable that people can’t help but shift their paradigm.
Model. Support. Scaffold. Meet the non-tech users right where they’re at. Praise and encourage them in their small wins. Acknowledge that the learning curve is tough, and you’ve been there too…but the payoff is worth the perseverance.
That’s the way we treat our students. It’s the way we need to treat each other, too.
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