Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overcoming attitudinal, organizational, and knowledge barriers. #edcampmn

Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of hosting #edcampmn Minnesota at Hamline University. I felt the day went very well. People were engaged and eager to participate. In fact, we had a total of 41 session proposals for people to vote on. Unfortunately, we only had room for fourteen of them. Also, unfortunately, my hosting duties kept me from attending all the sessions I wanted to go to.

One session I wish I had been able to attend at but couldn't was, "Overcoming attitudinal, organizational, and knowledge barriers." Unfortunately it is also one session that doesn't have any notes. I hear this topic come up a lot when I attend conferences, read blogs, read my Twitter stream, listen to educational podcasts, etc. but something always seems missing. It seems there is great momentum to change education and these barriers are easily defined. In fact, it seems like when this topic comes up, 95% of what gets discussed involves identifying the barriers. But, what is less clear is what they are barriers to. I am really curious how people in my PLN and readers of this blog define this. What do you see as the end goal? When we talk about barriers to change, what are they barriers to?


Richard Smith said...

The barriers I see are varied. They range include:

in the use of technology - amount of use, and how to use
accessibility to technology
lack of effort due to lack of knowledge ("fear of the new")
economic hardships
sports - I know this is specific to my situation only - right :)
motivation to use technology as a tool not just a toy (paradigm shift)

The end goal that I see is to not only teach the students (parents and everyone else included) that technology is a tool. It is here, it has been here (the pencil and pen went through a similar dislike/fear when they were new technologies), it will change and morph to meet the needs and wants of the public. The science (technology) and society relationship is similar to the chicken and the egg - which came first, which drives which?

Joe Mueller said...

I think all the barriers people identify are simply barriers to change. Most people find mastery in consistency. One of my favorite quotes of the day at EdCamp was the final keynote speakers answer to a past colleague who asked, "Are we going to have to learn something new in 5 years?" His response was, "I sure hope so!" Brilliant. Change is scary, but absolutely necessary, especially in technology.

That being said, I feel the fear of change is a fear that the change is change for the sake of change, and not change in name of improvement.

I think there is change burnout sometimes. Being asked to change email, grading, or attendance programs, for example, with no apparent gain after the switch can be frustrating. This can sometimes be a lack of training to point out the benefits of a new system.

RC said...

I agree with the barriers that Richard listed, and would also add "scalability". Although I'm not yet a teacher (I will be student teaching this fall), the observations that I've made through my experience in MN schools and schools abroad are that investments in technology (both financial and time) need to be perceived as benefiting the greatest # of classrooms. Thus if a teacher is excited about a particular technology that requires a school or district investment (i.e., collaborize), but the teachers vision and excitement is not shared by others in the district, it will not be viewed as a worthwhile investment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous posts in terms of the barriers (both in the blog and blackboard) that we face in using more technology in the classroom.

As a classroom teacher, it is also good to consider the barriers on a peer level simply because of the push to have more uniform curriculum can make the adoption of "new" technology difficult when you have varied levels of buy-in...which ultimately impact the scalability that was mentioned in a previous post.

In considering end goal...I think we need to drastically re-frame our view of technology to include it as part of the educational process not just as a cool bonus. As the conference speakers said, we need to use and develop the "5th limb" of our students. So many students are functionally literate with technology, but they are productively illiterate. They can adopt and use virtually new technology with little training, but so much of it is designed to deliver an entertaining experience (i.e. funny YouTube videos, video games, etc.) and so few students use to create or seek knowledge.

Also, I think it's crucial that they see it being used in a positively constructive and socially conscious way. The truth is our society hasn't figured this out yet, especially in terms of social media. (Look at the alarming number of divorces due to inappropriate use of Facebook, employer/employee issues, etc) Just as we teach our students the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen we need to add digital citizenship to that. It's really not a choice if we're truly trying to do what's best for our students.

-Mike Kauls