Teacher, Meet Technology

So, February 1st is Digital Literacy Day. It was also the day I led a My Big Campus workshop for the other teachers at my school. This was completely coincidental.

First, allow me to explain what My Big Campus is.

My Big Campus is a social networking site for school. It has all of the basic social networking features such as walls and profiles and private messaging, but it also allows teachers to create groups for each of their classes, assign quizzes, facilitate online discussions, and even more that I am not going to explain right now. While My Big Campus is a great motivational tool for the students, it will be most effective if every teacher uses it to some degree.

One of the reasons I love my school is because the staff is open to experimenting in the classroom…for the most part. If you have ever spent time in the education world you may know that it can be difficult to get teachers to adopt new methods into their classroom, especially if those teachers have been teaching for a long time. Now throw in computers and technology and it can be damn near impossible – depending on the teacher, that is.

So, because I am such an eager beaver teacher I wiggled my way into piloting My Big Campus for my school. I love My Big Campus, so naturally I think everyone else should too – but when I talked to other teachers about it I realized that they were not as eager to use it as I was. In fact, many of them were worried that they would get into trouble for using it given the recent headlines regarding teachers and Facebook. Others didn’t see how it could work in their classroom because they only have four or five computers, not thirty-two.

These are perfectly reasonable concerns. My solution: lead a My Big Campus workshop to clear up confusion and to help get teachers acquainted with the possibilities of the site. I talked to administration and they agreed that the February 1st early release day would be a good time to hold the workshop.

The workshop went well, but not as I had planned. First of all a handful of teachers were gone due to AVID responsibilities and the Special Ed. Department was pulled away for professional development. A few other teachers had to leave early for one reason or another, so I only had about sixteen show up.

Each teacher retrieved a netbook upon walking into the classroom. I showed them a Prezi on My Big Campus before launching into the details of the site. Most of the teachers were engaged, but one teacher, let’s call him Mr. Lee, was too busy writing on a post-it note to participate in the workshop. He did have a computer open in front of him though, so I just ignored him. A few minutes later I noticed that he hadn’t looked up from his post-it note, so I decided to look at his computer screen – perhaps he needed help.

The computer was turned off. This ticked me off a bit. I mean, I was volunteering my time and energy to help him out. He didn’t seem to notice my presence, so I got his attention.

Me: “Well, Mr. Lee, you won’t be able to set up My Big Campus if your computer is turned off!” I gave him a friendly smile and turned on his computer.

Mr. Lee: “Oh, well I was just working on this…”

Me: “Well we are working on My Big Campus.”

Mr. Lee: “Yes, I know, but we had talked about it already the other day so…”

Me: “So now we are setting it up!” I said with a smile. “Let me know when you’ve caught up.” I walked away.

I turned around and saw one of the other teachers shaking her head and laughing. She caught my eye and winked at me. Golly.

At first, I was annoyed with Mr. Lee for his rude behavior, but then I decided not to spend my energy dwelling on it. Instead, I decided to think about the reasons behind his actions and came up with the following ideas:

1. Mr. Lee has been teaching for about fifteen years(ish).
2. Mr. Lee is from a different cultural group than I am.
3. Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant.

Now, Mr. Lee’s behavior makes a bit more sense to me. When I think back to my job selling wedding dresses, I never liked it when a newer sales consultant tried to give me sales advice. I was meeting my sales goals perfectly fine on my own, thank you very much. I preferred to be the one doling out advice to the newbies.

Educational Psychology 310 pointed out that different cultural groups have different standards of socially acceptable behavior. Perhaps according to Mr. Lee’s culture he was giving support by simply showing up. Any participation thereafter was optional.

Finally, and I think this is the most important point, Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant (someone born before the cultural integration of modern technology). Digital immigrants are naturally more cautious and resistant towards new technology than digital natives (someone born after the cultural integration of modern technology), who embrace new technology and are able to master it much more efficiently.

I consider myself to be a digital native, even though some of my peers consider themselves to be digital immigrants. My family was always very up-to-date with new computers when I was growing up, and my dad now owns his own computer support business in North Carolina. My point is that I was given multiple digital learning opportunities during the critical period for language acquisition. Mr. Lee (I am assuming) was not.

So, the simple facts are: I am very comfortable with computers and the internet. Mr. Lee is not. I am a new teacher. Mr. Lee is not. I am excited about incorporating technology into my classroom. Mr. Lee is not.

Now I feel much better.

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Posted on February 2, 2012, in Reflection and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Teniece Gaussoin

    Wish I would have been able to be there. I hope that you don’t feel that all of us old timers (32 years teaching) are not willing to try new things. I am really looking forward to meeting with you next week. 🙂
    Teniece

  2. Well…..sometimes we have to look at the facts…..Mr. Lee has better getting moving with the technology or be left out in the cold. Much of our ‘teacher things” are REALLY going to digital methods. And because most of our students are digital natives…….we better catch up. Being a digital immigrant will not be much of a excuse in a couple of years!

    Great job today……LOVED it and am trying to get better. I am definately not a native but I’m not an immigrant either. What do you think we should call us middle of the roadsters???? 🙂

    Can you imagine my 99 year old aunt who started teaching in 1933 and taught till 1978. What changes she must have seen in education!

  3. First off, bravo to you for bringing a safe social networking site to your school! It’s important for our students to learn the rules of digital citizenship in a safe training ground. Hopefully, the teachers at your school will understand the benefits that My Big Campus can bring to their students.
    Also, we’re anxious to hear how you calmed their fears of social networking and challenges with few computers. We have some great resources we can share with your school. Let us know if you need our help.
    Lastly, what happened to Mr. Lee? Hoping to hear that he’s using My Big Campus now and loves it! His students will thank him. 😉

    • Thanks, Crissy. I don’t think that all of their fears have been calmed quite yet, but I have plans to hold several after school workshops to give extra instruction to those who need it. It helps that I have a very supportive administration who allowed me to take the time to conduct the workshop during one of our inservice days.

      I will let you know how it turns out with Mr. Lee. I am hoping that once more teachers adopt My Big Campus into their classrooms he will start to use it too – if only to post his weekly agenda.

      I am definitely interested in the resources you have to share with our school! Can you give me more information about it?

      • Afterschool workshops sound like a great idea! Are you currently a MBC Coach?

        Below are some resources you can pass on to the other teachers. The information papers will help them understand the benefits of Web 2.0 tools and how My Big Campus delivers those benefits in a safe environment. I’m also including links to demos and tutorials they can take on their own time to help them navigate through MBC for their classrooms. Hopefully, with your leadership and these resources your teachers will be more at ease and even excited to use MBC. Let us know if you need any other help along the way!

        Web 2.0 in Schools Info paper: http://mbcurl.me/3NQ
        YouTube in Schools Info paper: http://mbcurl.me/3QP
        MBC Teacher demo: http://mbcurl.me/206
        MBC Orientation Center: http://mbcurl.me/1WW

  4. So you didn’t catch me sending messages on mybigcampus, I will be a better student next time. 😉 Wonderfully well done lesson. I appreciate all that you do for us! You are always so energetic and it is infectious! Keep up the good work!

    • I saw that you were doing that after the workshop. Shame on you! 😉 Thank you for your support both before and after the workshop. Continue using MBC in your classroom! Word on the street is the eighth grade students aren’t using it, but I think that is because they haven’t had as much access to it as the seventh graders.

  5. Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Cheers

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