Further to “What’s my point” – I had the fortunate experience of once again, listening to the work of Sarah Prestridge (Griffith University, Mt Gravatt) at the QSITE2009 Conference. She conducts research projects on ICT Teacher Professional Development – action learning style! In fact, much of her work has influenced our Digital Pedagogy Leaders Project in the South Coast.
Something she raised yesterday… that I’ve heard before..but resonated with me even more deeply. Teacher competence with digital technologies –v- Teacher confidence with digital technologies. Through her experience, she has observed that teacher confidence with technologies need to be a priority over their competence. This really highlights that it isn’t about the skills of using the tools – and I know that people see this as a ‘sore point’ but I think I need to highlight that I’m not saying teachers don’t need skill development – but I’m saying that this isn’t the initial priority – a successful experience with digital technologies will lead to teacher confidence. Teacher confidence will then enable them to see further ways of using technologies and to seek out skill development when required. Let’s face it – in a connected world – there really isn’t any skill that can’t be learnt independently – just google it and see what’s available – not only a tutorial, but also reflections of educators all over the world who have tried and tested the tools and are willing to collaborate if requested.
So, teacher confidence… let’s consider.. most would agree – that success builds success.. So if we start at what teachers ‘succeed with’ first.. and that would most likely be their strategies and understanding of curriculum and of their learners…then support them with an experience using digital technologies to further enhance what they already do well – will this inspire them to see the value in digital technologies? Or would it be a one off experience?
When I reflect on my own teaching experience I remember the first time I tried to use ict in my class. I had been to a conference in Brisbane, which was quite an achievement when teaching in Boyne Island where very little pd was available and we certainly didn’t have the benefits of online pd then. At this conference we were shown a device that allowed you to connect your laptop to the tv so that you could display / enlarge your laptop screen for your class (I was part of the Connecting Teachers laptop trial in the 90’s) I was so excited and remember coming back to my principal raving about this $600 device that would allow this. He welcomed and supported my enthusiasm and found money in the budget to purchase this piece of equipment. Now I had absolutely no idea how to connect or make it work – I just saw the possibilities of using it in a classroom (seems pretty lame compared to technologies now – projectors were available but my boss wasn’t willing to pay the $10,000 price). Anyway, I guess what it gave me was a bit of confidence in using technologies. Confidence to try the possibilities in the classroom first and then competence to make it work and then confidence in the benefits of using technologies. For me, this was the beginning of a very exciting learning journey. So my message to teachers is that you don’t have to be a technical guru to see or implement pedagogy that leverages technologies. But you do need to take a little risk here and there, have a go, make some errors, and discover new and exciting ways of teaching! By the way, I would really love to hear your first experience using technology in the classroom!
And that’s what I really enjoy about conferences – witnessing firsthand the stories of educators who have embarked on a new professional journey using digital technologies – the enthusiasm, the inspiration and the amazing new ways teachers find to improve learning outcomes for their students. Thanks QSITE09