Why aren’t more teachers adopting technology? That’s a question that is constantly raised in educational circles. There are loads of literature on the barriers of technology integration – time constraints, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, the crowded curriculum, external exam pressures, etc, etc, etc. But for a moment, let’s look at the teachers who DO integrate technology. They still teach to a crowded curriculum. They still need to prepare students for high stakes exam. They too have 24 hours in their day. They too have experienced lessons where the technology failed. So what’s the difference?
I’ve been testing Mouse Mischief this week. Mouse Mischief is a Microsoft add-on software to PowerPoint that allows multiple mice to connect to a PowerPoint presentation. Essentially it is a clicker system. This week was the first time I tried to connect 28 wireless mice. (I’ve had many previous successes with 15 mice) I had a class of extremely excited Year 10 students, each holding their own wireless mouse and …. it didn’t work. All of the mice refused to connect to the PowerPoint when the same mice connected with no problems just two days before. But instead of quitting Mouse Mischief for good, I investigated the problem over the weekend and will try again next week. Mouse Mischief isn’t the first technology that has failed on me. There have been many other cases. But each time I investigated the problem, came up with a solution and tried it again.
However, this takes time. A lot of time. Sometimes I feel like I’m a first-year out teacher again as I would spend hours each school night and the weekend exploring web tools and other software and solving technical issues. I could have easily stuck with my existing resources and strategies that I have tried out before and know it works for my students. Giving students a worksheet is easier. Changing the activity so that it is enhanced by technology is hard work. Why do I take the hard way?
Because it’s fun.
I love technology. I love video games. I love computers. I always have. I don’t see those long hours at night exploring web tools as work. Going by the Twitter and Yammer conversations, many other teachers who are confident integrators of technology find it fun as well. But for other teachers technology is not fun. For them continuing what they already do without technology (and are successful with their students) is like taking the escalator and integrating technology is like walking up a long flight of stairs. So what will make them try the hard way and walk up a long flight of stairs?
Going by the fun theory as shown in the videos, other teachers who are not regular technology integrators may also take the harder path if it’s fun. If we can make technology fun for teachers who are not as confident, they will be more likely to explore things on their own, take risks and trial-an-error with technology and spend time modifying their own existing strategies and resources to integrate technology. Making things fun can change people’s attitude and behaviour. The hard part is how.