Generational Differences in Regards to Technology Use
Technology Integration in Practice
During my field experience, I was able to come to three issues with it comes to technology and teaching: lack of knowledge, lack of motivation , and the shift in teaching roles.
Through my research, I was able to discover that there are many different generations teaching to the same new generation. From Baby Boomers to Generation Y, we are all teaching Generation Z. Due to the gap in years from one generation to the next, it is easy to understand why some educators embrace technology and those that fear it. For example, The Baby Boomer generation was taught completely different than Generation Y. This is partly due to the lack of technological resources that were available in the 1950's and 60's than those that were available in the 80's and 90's. Overhead projectors and televisions were new back then, when Generation Y grew up entirely with computers and internet. So, it is understandable why Baby Boomers may be apprehensive and feel completely overwhelmed with all the new technology available, while educators from Generation Y have a tendency to embrace all the new technological resources.
I found this to be true in my field experience. The educators from the Baby Boomers generation, although great teachers, had a tendency to shy away from using as much technology, while the younger generations seem to want to use it more and more. Most of the hesitation came from lack of knowledge. The solution to this is providing the teachers with some professional development opportunities. In my experience, most teachers respond to learning new things if there is a way to incorporate it into his or her curriculum fairly easy and given the proper amount of time to feel comfortable with the new technological tool. During my interviews, there was one baby boomer teacher that was the exception to most of this generation. He really seemed to embrace technology and now considers himself to be "tech. savvy." When I asked him, how he was able to change is original outlook to embrace technology, he responded: "I forced myself to take the time to learn one thing at a time. When I realized how I could use this to make my job, as a teacher, much easier, it was worth it for me to take the time to learn." If all teachers had some type of incentive, many may be willing to embrace technology.
The second issue I found during my field experience was the lack of motivation. Although many teachers are willing to learn new ways to enhance the students' learning, if the technological resources are not easily accessible to teachers, it makes it hard to motivate them to use it. The accessibility and amount of resources available can cause teachers to be inconvenienced, so they choose to not use the technology. During my interviews, it was not the accessibility of resource, but rather the district's control of these resources. For example, one teacher expressed that it took her almost two weeks to get a website approved for her students to have access to it at school. Due to this frustration, if her students are denied access to certain websites, she won't bother to use it! The solution to this lack of motivation may be to allow a little more flexibility. I've had the opportunity to see two districts. One district only blocks teachers from viruses and pornography; however, they have leniency on everything else. This really allows them the flexibility to expand their own educational technology skills. The second district requires lots of hoops for teachers to overcome. Some teachers are willing to take the time to go through the hoops, but many do not bother, hence the lack of use of technology in his or her classrooms. I understand that many of the hoops may be for protection purposes, but teachers do deserve a little more flexibility.
The third issues I came across was shift in teaching roles. Teachers have always been the original source of information for students. Now, with new technological advances, teachers are now becoming the facilitator instead of the teacher. Some generations are not wanting to become the facilitator because they have been used to be the leader. The solution to this may be to introduce technology as a tool and not a requirement. In my personal experience as a department chair, I've always found it easier to get teachers to accept something new when I don't make it a requirement. By having technology specialist available to help teachers learn "how" they can use technological resources as tools for their curriculum can help alleviate the pressure to make it a requirement. Then having teachers model this new teaching style, may make those that are resistant to be more open to the change of teaching roles.
Overall, I found this field experience to be an eye opener for me. It allowed me to connect with other educators from different generations as well as possibility to see a variety of content and teaching styles. Hopefully my experiences may help others that are struggling with the same generation issues and issues with technology integration.
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