Think Back

Think Back

A couple of weeks back I read some great posts* about professional development and learning.  They really sum up well those things providers need to remember about learners.  It is about the learning and not the tools, after all. I highly recommend taking the time to read them.

As technology users ourselves we often are so passionate about what we do that we often don’t understand why others do not catch our passion.  We may not realize that some teachers feel the use of technology may be an intrusion into their teaching, imposed on them by others.

Doug Johnson says:

It’s easy to lose the perspective that teachers are teachers first and technology users second – or third or fourth. Good trainers who can remember what it was like before there were computers – the green grass, the singing birds, the books to read, the parties to attend, the fishing trips, the face-to-face human communication– tend to be more empathetic. Think back, think back…

It is this statement I want to reflect on.  What did I do before learning, technology, and networking possessed my every waking thought (sad isn’t it).  I used to cross stitch, read science fiction and history. I used to do a variety of arts & crafts. I visited museums, and parks, I travelled. I wrote letters with good stationary and sealing wax.  I worked on family history and genealogy. I had people over for dinner.

I do not do these things much anymore.  I still read, but topics in learning and education have replaced science fiction. I send email instead of letters. I do not travel as much, I guess I do some virtually but that is not really the same.  I have not picked up my  cross stitching in about 6 years, and I sort of miss it.  My genealogy research came to a screeching halt 4 years ago.

Maybe the teachers who have known us a long time and have seen the changes we have undergone don’t want to “catch the disease.”

Am I okay with these changes ? I honestly do not know and will have to ponder that a bit. But I do know that once I became a connected learner my learning exploded and I just want more.

* Doug Johnson, Seven Qualities of Highly Effective Technology Trainers
Jacob Gutnicki, 15 Essentials of Bad Professional Development in Technology
Miguel Guhlin, Admission of Vulnerability, My PLN

30 thoughts on “Think Back

  1. Hi Beth-
    I am taking a Master’s course right now regarding the use of blogs, wikis, and podcasts in the classroom. I am very, very new to all of these things, and to be honest it is very overwhelming. I think that your response above is very interesting because I often hear older teachers at my school complain that the kids text message too much or use Facebook too much and have forgotten what “real” communication is like. I, like you, prefer to communicate over email and/or Facebook. I am only twenty-seven years old and I am very intimidated about incorporating technology into my classroom so I can imagine what teachers who are older than me must feel like. I am trying to take small steps and hopefully find my way because this is the direction that education is taking. I will continue to read your blog and hope that it will help me in my quest for catching up with my tech savvy students 🙂

  2. Beth,

    I, too am taking a Master’s course on implememting technology in the classroom (like Ashley before me). I like the thinking that you shared. It made me reflect upon the activities or hobbies that have been neglected in lieu of “technology”. I had never really thought about it before because of the gradual adaptation into my lifestyle. One of my favorite pastimes was playing the piano and that has often become replaced by plugging into the web. Like you, I love all the learning that can take place from the internet, but it is a reminder that there needs to be a balance. Like anything, moderation is the key.

    M. Shafer

  3. Hi, Beth –
    I have spent the better part of two hours perusing your blog. I too am taking a Master’s class (the actual degree is Integrating Technology in the classroom) related to technology. I have a personal blog and felt I knew quite a bit about technology. Needless to say I no longer feel I know very much at all 🙂

    I enjoy your wiki where you have everything so neatly put together so that if I forgot where I can use an aggregator service (RSS), for example, I can just glance at your wiki.

    I love technology but as a mother (first job), full-time teacher (six preps this semester alone), coach, Master’s student, and wife, I often feel incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. My question to you is do you have a technique of sifting through the junk? Do you feel I can count on your wiki to lead me to “good” resources? Remember when we talk about literature and we always ask students if they are reading “good” books? Or we specifically seek out “good” books for our toddlers! 🙂 Any assistance you can provide would be incredibly appreciated! Thanks!!


  4. Greetings…
    Just like Ashley and M. Shafer, I just began a class entitled, “Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society”, and just like Ashley I am a bit intimidated about incorporating all of this technology in my classroom. It seems like its so much for me to learn and catch up on when I thought I was pretty “hip” in the techno world. But I do find myself gravitating to more tech centered things in work as well as my personal life so maybe this wont be so hard.


  5. Hi Ashley,

    Sometimes I still fee overwhelmed by all the options. I am actually one of those older teachers, I started teaching in 1985. I am not sure so much if it is age that makes the difference or experience and the willingness to continue learning. I find teachers who are always looking for new ways to connect to students, and create engaging learning environments begin to experiment with technology. I wish you well in your studies, never stop learning and never stop experimenting. Hold yourself to the same standard to which you hold your students.

  6. M.

    I think I will always struggle with the balance. I think my fellow teachers and our students struggle with the same. Balance should be something we talk and reflect on.

  7. Cristina,

    I always feel I do not know much about technology, it moves to fast and I have trouble keeping up. I try to focus on learning and look for the tools that support and encourage learning. Seems to make it much more manageable to me.

    How do I shift though the junk? Well I follow my network on twitter and plurk and read lots of blogs. I do a lot of bookmarking of sites, and then weed through them when I have time. I use diigo to store the ones I think maybe useful in my future. My wiki stores sites I use in presentations or workshops. I add to it periodically, and check to make sure links are still active about twice a year. When I do some spring cleaning of my digital life, just after school is out and then again during winter break. So the wiki will not have frequent updates.

    I would suggest finding a few blogs related to the areas you are interested and start there. Find a place that works for you to store what you find, that might be a wiki, a blog or a bookmarks site such as diigo. It took awhile to find a method to that I felt comfortable with and even now I tweak it a little bit here and there.

  8. Katherine,

    No one said you need to integrate it all. 🙂 I find picking one tool, or strategy and starting with that works fairly well. Once you are good with that one then pick the next. Over time you will find you classroom learning environment has morphed into something new. I wish you will in your course.

  9. Hi Beth-
    Thank you so much for responding. I was reading your responses to the other ladies and I feel that you are absolutely correct in that there does need to be balance, but that we need to gradually make the shift to a more technologically advanced classroom by starting with something simple and then adding to our repertoire little by little. I just got an Elmo in my classroom that was bought by our foreign language department and I love it. I realize that in the way of technology it is really just an upgrade from my overhead projector but I am proud of it 🙂 Still, I know that I need to be getting my students more involved in the ways that technology can enhance their learning and I know that there are so many websites out there that would be so beneficial to them. What would you recommend as a technological tool that is good for “beginner” teachers in this technological world to start with in the classroom? I like the idea of a blog but I don’t know if that is a little too advanced for me in these beginning stages. Just wondering what your thoughts were on that. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  10. Hi Beth,
    Like the people above I too am taking my masters classes on Integrating Technology in the classroom. We are just starting to create a blog for class. Any words of wisdom or advice on my first blog and how you use yours in the classroom would be appreciated.
    Thank you

  11. Beth,
    Your posting ignited a few different emotions. The very first emotion to register was feeling a bit overwhelmed as if I will never be able to be competent and functional at integrating technology within my curriculum (not like you!). I am a basic girl possessing more personal technological strengths and gadgets, but I realize the relevance of technology and at least have the wisdom to understand its importance and place within the classroom setting. This is why I am (this will sound very cliché) obtaining my masters in Integrating Technology (just like the others), because it is the weakest area for me in teaching. After I continued reading your posting, my emotions soon turned to strength and motivation to continue to try to improve myself and my skills in order to extend my teaching techniques further. We are of the digital age and the devices which are being invented and/or improved upon are not slowing down. To adhere to my promise in being a life-long learner, I must get ‘learning’ in this area.
    On a personal note, I love how you mentioned your children, my daughter is 13 years old and she has now surpassed me in being more experienced in technology and I am bound and determined not to be left in the dark while having no idea what my children are talking about or doing in the cyber world.
    Thank you for instilling a feeling that I can expand my capabilities by taking one technological step at a time.

  12. Beth,
    Just wanted to say that this was a GREAT post. It is so true — we used to do so many “crafty” things. What happened? I have been thinking a lot lately about how much I used to sew and haven’t done any in a few years. Seems like life is so busy. You are right — the Internet and the learning can consume you. I guess it is all a matter of what your priority is right now. Thanks for the links to help me with Professional Development. I am going to put them into a document I can hang on my wall and reread before presenting. I must admit that I usually do “think back” to when I was learning it. I still remember when I was trying to understand RSS feeds, aggregators, blogs, and wikis and you came to visit me at MME and set me straight. So, when a teacher is asking me a question that they may think is stupid, I can tell them what a good question they are asking because we all go through it. Well, I am rambling. Just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts.

  13. Hi Beth,
    I am also in a Technology in the Classroom Masters degree program and I’m wondering how at ease you were when you became plugged into blogging. I have only been teaching for three years but am the mother of 4 children, three of which are college students. Needless to say I am not of the tech generation although I try to keep up, but my first computer class was 30 years ago where we spent a semester at Rutgers University learning how to program keypunch cards. I am slightly overwhelmed by this all but I’m hoping that it becomes easier with familiarity. I’d love to know your feelings.

  14. Hi Brett,

    I really did not start blogging until after I left the classroom. I started blogging in order to learn how to do it, never imaging I would still be doing it. It started to be a record of my learning and about the tools I was exploring, over time it has morphed in to something else. I guess it truly does reflect my learning. When getting started I decided I would post once a week and actually made a schedule, now I try for at least twice a month , but did not do it last month. If you are using it as a classroom blog them maybe once a week to update students and parents on what is happening in the classroom. Good luck!

  15. Kimberly,

    If you try new tools, learn along with your students, and put student needs first then you are more then competent at integrating technology. Remember we practice the art of teaching we are never done. Enjoy learning and hope to see you about the eduverse.

  16. Howdy Julia,

    We learned together, it was great to have someone I could talk to face to face about all things techy. As you know I have to constantly remind myself that some people are so afraid of technology that they never ask questions. If they ask questions it is a good sign, they are curious and open to learn.

  17. Nancee,

    I was not comfortable at all. As I replied to Brett, I blogged so I could learn what it is about. I never thought I would continue. I do not have confidence as a writer, I believe it to be a weakness of mine. The thought of writing for an audience scared me, and when people began to follow my blog I actually stopped writing for a while. Now I write to get things out of my head. I keeping thinking it will explode, as I am so often overwhelmed with everything that is happening in Ed Tech and learning. The blog has become away to keep track of my learning. I no longer fear people reading and commenting on the blog,. I now view of comments as if someone stopped me in the hall or workroom. As I have continued over the years my confidence and comfort level have grown. I am not the same blogger I was a few years back.

    I took a computer class in HS and Grad school were we programed on punch cards. My great fear was dropping the stack. I remember those days. I grew up with tech, just like my children though I have seen tech go through many more stages of development. Together we shall it change even more.

  18. Ashely,

    I know many teachers who would love an Elmo, the ability to add visuals to a lesson is so valuable. A blog is a great communication tool for families. A weekly post about what is being done in class might be great place to start. I do not know the age group or subject area you teach, but students could write parts of the update that you place on the blog. Incorporating media such as video or podcast can be great way to support diverse learning needs.

  19. Hi,
    I have just stated my master’s program as well and the blogging world is new to me. I am trying to learn more ways of blogging to have access to more ideas with using technology in the classroom. I teach special education and I would love new ideas to be able to use in my classroom to help my students to become better learners. I have enjoyed reading your blogs and can wait to start mine to have more info in technology world for education.

  20. I am also in a Technology in the Classroom Masters degree program and I’m finding the use of technology into the classroom refreshing. Actually it is the main reason I change my specialization to integrating technology. I really see and understand how students are engaged and advance with the proper use. I have seen a shift in my learning and my students. I use to consider myself a kinesthetic learner before big tech shift. Before I used trial and errors to figure things out, now I am a reader and researcher by goggling new things to read about. Yet, the idea of blogging in the classroom is very intimidating. I am curious about your process of blogging? Is the process as tedious as writing a paper? The whole idea of openly expressing opinions to anyone just stresses me out. I hoping with steady practice I will find blogging easy to incorporate in the classroom.

  21. Hi Beth, my name is John and I am a doctoral student at Walden University. I am in my 2nd year and have a blogging assignment to learn more about new technology for my dissertation. I am 54 years old and this new technology baffles me, there is so much to learn. I am a professor in Big Rapids, MI and have been teaching there for a couple of years as an adjunct in communications. Prior to that, I taught for 5 years in Grand Rapids, MI at a local college. I have never used an ipod or twitter. I just joined facebook and that was a challenge. I know that I have to catch up and learn this stuff or I will get way behind and not be able to relate to my students. I drove a cab for 32 years before that. If you could explain what your wiki page is I would greatly appreciate it.

  22. Brandi,

    I would suggest looking at the blogs in the blog roll and then blog rolls on those blogs to expand your reading, eventually you will find those that will support your interest and learning.

  23. Dennisha,
    I think the blogging process depends on why you blog and who your audience is. I originally blogged for me and I guess I still do. Even if no one read the blog I would still continue, though at the beginning I did not think I would do it more then a month or two. I find that writing about what I am reading helps me develop my understanding. So I write to express my reading and thinking of things. It is not necessarily the same as writing a paper, post can be short or long really anything. Just take it one post at a time.

  24. Hi John,

    I work as a K12 tech integration specialist, I am the only one in my district and need to support about 500 staff in 7 building. So needless to say I am pretty mobile and a traditional list of bookmarks on my computer just won’t work. So I originally made a wiki where I could post links and hand outs I that I may need. I used a wiki so the staff I worked with could also find what I had used. The wiki allowed me to group and add notes to remind me why I kept the link. As I became more confident about my skills and knowledge I began to present at conferences so I add material for those presentations to the wiki. I do not keep it as up to date as I would like to. I check the links to see if they still work at least twice a year at winter break and then again after school gets out in the spring. I add thing when need them whenever I need them for a workshop or presentation.

    It took me a few years to get comfortable with social/professional networking I have tried a lot of different tools but have settled on a few. There are only so many ‘mailboxes’ one can check.

  25. Hi,
    I am working on my certification to teach music. As I have read previous blogs here, like so many others I am new to the blog phenomenon. I should say I am new to a lot of the technology today. I am taking a technology course for a requirement for my certification in music and I must say it is overwhelming.

    I agree with Doug Johnson’s view of technology in the school. I feel as though we have too much technology sometimes, which takes away from aspects of creativity ,which is so important especially in my field which is music. In my opinion, what is happening today is technology taking over. For instance, now days someone can go online and listen to an orchestra play for example a Bethoven Symphony. What about going to the concert hall and listening to the music live? Concert halls are having problems attracting audiences because at the click of a button, one can have the orchestra right in their home.

    These are a couple of my initial thoughts as I experience the art of blogging!

  26. Weil,

    There certainly is a struggle to balance the influence of technology in ones life. I often reflect on the lost art of letter writing. A handwritten letter seemed to hold more meaning and we tended to write what is important. It to time and thought to compose a letter. With the advent of email and instant messaging we have instant communication. I find there are a lot of words flowing back and forth but I wonder how much depth of meaning.
    I also used to make memory books for my children (scrap books) We all loved to pick them up and look through them. Now I tend to upload the photos and make a photo book. Just the other day my son said he preferred the older hand made books, they are more personal. He is right, if you cut, paste, write and assemble the books by hand there is a more personal touch. So this summer I will create a few more books that recap the last few years that I have done online.

  27. I agree with you wholeheartely as I feel as you said there is more meaning to handwriting a letter than sending an e-mail. In my work as a church musician I find that writing my choir members and mailing the letter through the mail to them is much more effective.

    I can relate to there being something extra special to put a scrapbook together by hand than merely uploading pictures from the computer.

  28. I am taking this Technology for Educators class this summer for my requirments in the education program at ECU. Like so many other posts I have read, I am new to this technology and am feeling I am under pressure to learn all there is to know about the technology in the classroom. Are there any ide as to how I would use technology in the music classroom to create meaningful lesson plans?

  29. In response to M. Shafer’s post, I am a pianist and feel that technology is in my many ways taking over in the music classroom. Instead of promoting the piano and motivating students to want to learn how to play, technology can produce the sounds just as well and the piano and other instruments becomes obsolete. This is sad when technology replaces instruments like the piano.

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