Random Thoughts

Teachers and Technology

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My last post included the picture above around my thoughts about what makes a well rounded teacher in the 21st Century. I put the word Technology in the circle without defining exactly what that means. It was great to see commenters pick up on this fact. My point in doing this (I think) was to look at how we define technology when we talk about teaching.

There is:

  • Technology as a tool
  • Technology skills
  • The use of technology
  • Technology terminology
  • Technology as a teaching device
  • Technology as a learning device
  • (and I’m sure more)

When we talk about technology as it refers to teachers, I believe we can only define what it is we are looking for based off of where our school is with the adoption of technology in all of the above categories. I can tell you what I want teachers to do at my school, but that is going to be different from what I expect teachers to know/do at a school that is 1:1. Or a school that does not have an LCD in every classroom and mobile labs. Each school is unique and each school administrator must come to an understanding of what they want their teachers to be able to know and do.

As I talked to a couple administrators this past weekend about technology and the hiring of teachers I encouraged all of them to stop asking the question “Can you give me an example of how you integrate technology?”

The question has become a standard part of any interview, and at this point in time I believe every teacher candidate that is looking for a job has their response already thought out and can tell you that one great lesson they do that integrates technology on some level.

What I believe administrators need to do is start asking questions that get to a deeper level of both the teachers comfort level with technology and the skills and beliefs they have around its use in the classroom as a learning device. It is OK to listen to a story about how a teacher integrates technology around these question as long as you know what you should be listening for (more on this later).

We all integrate technology right? (I assume so if you are reading this blog…if not please Skype me…we need to talk!)

If administrator ask questions that allow them to understand a teacher’s beliefs and skill set around technology, then they can find what they are looking for as a ‘fit’ for their school.

One thing is for sure, with as much focus and money schools spend on technology it cannot be a bonus question when looking for teacher candidates. It has to be just what we do.

[tags]interview questions[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. I’ve been struggling to get my colleagues and preservice student teachers to get away from the “integrating technology” questions as well. The language itself is such a big barrier as it creates an atmosphere where tech-integrated lessons are outside of the norm, or something special. I despise the term, and it doesn’t help that we try to begin to use other similar terms (e.g., infuse technology) that don’t mean anything different.

    A great lesson doesn’t have to demonstrate (information and communication) technology usage, but in most cases, when we see a great lesson, that is what is happening.

    Let’s normalize the practice, throw away the terms.

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  3. I find it interesting that the discussion majored on technology.

    So I assume that means everyone knows what you mean by pedagogy (I have recently discovered that, where I work, the work pedagogy is confused with didacticism), that no-one has issues with curriculum (only me, then), that everyone understands what you mean by practice, and that no-one has personality issues….


    Of course, I’m being semi-facetious (never a good idea in writing). However, to my mind this is an indication that technology is still standing out like a sore thumb and a long way from being integrated. A long way from Alec’s goal of “normalize the practice”.

  4. Karyn,

    You are correct. Just as a school needs to define what technology means to them they must also do the same for the other areas. Most administrator I would hope would have thought about what pedagogy means to them, what curriculum means, but many are still struggling with what technology means. I went through an admin program. We focused on defining pedagogy for ourselves and spent many an hour looking at curriculum and practice, but we did not spend any time looking at technology and what that meant to your future school. Now I know 2004 was different, but I have a feeling not many programs have changed. 🙂

  5. 2008 isn’t much different than 2004 in the administrative training world. I’m about two-thirds of my way through a CAS in Educational Leadership and nothing relating to technology use in schools has come up. The professors are not technology users and most of my classmates are older teachers who are not particularly strong technology users.

    Jeff hit on an important point with his last words. Technology is just what we do. It isn’t an option of when a teacher will start using technology. We must prepare students for their future, not our past (something like a Dewey quote).

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  7. Hello Jeff…I too blog…But I need to know what is RSS feeds and how i make my blog more popular….please assist me…Apart from that….I too am in the similar field….A teacher alone wont help kids today…it the advanced technology together with proper guidance that is going to work today and in the future..Kids today are very restless.They need to be given proper guidance and learning should be made an interesting experience for them.If we hurry they may just be away whatever technology we use..Too mush of technology will also make kids machine like..i feel they lose their human emotions 🙂

    Like when you teach Biology you could read the passage of cell division from the text and show then the animation after that…so they visualise it and learn it in the class itself…..Youi could also view the sample animations at http://www.learnwareindia.com

    Priya Thomas

    Officially at http://learnwareindia.com

  8. Jeff, first I just want to say thanks for the information. I feel like I am learning so much just from your wiki. How I got here (from VA) is because of a conference that I went to for 21st century teachers. I am on a team that is trying to help our elementary school utilize the technology that we have and really help our students to be prepared. Well, I ventured out and found wetpaint.com two days ago and started my first Wiki. It only in the beginning stage and I know it needs a lot of work, but I realize that I can learn from others out there like yourself. By the way, loved the Econ videos-great! I have put two videos on my wiki to show teachers the learning that can take place if we look outside of small school into a more global world out there, where students in other countries can share what they have learned. Sorry to ramble on. I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to share your page with other teachers just so that they can see what you are doing in Shanghai, China. Most of us are tech challenged, but excited to learn.

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  11. I agree with you that administrators should stop with the canned technology question but your thoughts that most administrators actually possess the technology based learning model well enough to go into further inquiry about it isn’t sound. Until technology is foundational for all educators and administrators, it will remain “bolt on” applications instead of being inbedded in our lessons and planning processes. Administrators ask technology questions because a lot of them have to report to the district how they validate the amount of school budget allocated to technology. Sad but true.

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