Any of us old folks who have been around technology training long enough remember the challenge and frustration that went with trying to teach teachers to program their computers.
Logo. Basic. Pilot. And other languages, all with the idea that educators would create their own applications or instruct their students on how to use these tools to control the computer.
Gary Stager David Jakes recalls a more recent example of these efforts.
Rewind to 1992 or somewhere close, I can’t remember exactly. I taught a class, as did many schools, on how to program in Hypertalk, which was the programming language of HyperCard. That wasn’t too hard to do, and teachers could make simple stacks easily enough. Some tried, but it quickly fizzled. It didn’t stick at all.
Why? Teachers aren’t programmers. They never have been and they never will be. So the lessons of the early 1990’s were forgotten when the Web rolled around, and when schools decided that teachers should learn HTML, Web page design, and Web page editing software. How well is that working?
David concludes that trying to turn teachers into web publishers hasn’t been any more successful than making them computer programmers.
He identifies five reasons for the failure.
Reason 1: Using technology to create and support learning opportunities in most schools is not considered mission-critical.
Reason 2: Most administrators have failed to understand technology and how it applies to the learning process on the most fundamental level.
Reason 3: Schools have not provided teachers with the proper tool(s), infrastructure, or support to get the job done.
Reason 4: Teachers are too comfortable.
Reason 5: Teachers have not seen the benefit.
In our overly-large school district we have been trying to get teachers to build class web sites for more than four years. With very mixed results for exactly those same reasons.
Number 3 stands out especially since we require that teachers wedge all instructional web publishing into the inadequate and poorly designed confines of the Blackboard system.
However, completely aside from the issue of teachers learning to program or create web pages, read through David’s list again.
For the most part, those are also the primary reasons why we haven’t been particularly successful at using technology to improve teaching and learning.