Monday, 15 September 2014

Extending Dianne's post about professional development...

Dianne's last blog post raises a perennial wondering I keep having.

Why do some people assume that - and we're talking mainly about digital stuff here -  they need a course on something before they can start using it?

Is it because digital stuff flummoxes people? Yes, I know, kids know how to work your cellphone better than you, but there's something about this digital stuff that seems to paralyse people more than other stuff.

Let me make an analogy.

When we cook something we've never cooked before, we can't always learn from someone who's made it before - if we did, we'd all starve! Instead, we are likely to check out a recipe, have a go at it, and assess the results. It's then we decide if it's worth having another go. We might tweak the recipe this time round, or we might have learned something new (a combination or process) so getting better at it is the aim, so the flavour's better and there's greater cook satisfaction.

Transferring that same sense of can-do-and-it's-ok-if-I-don't-get-it-right-first-time to digital stuff doesn't always seem to occur. The world still turns, we don't break anything and nobody dies when we try out digital stuff, but we are sometimes paralysed into inaction. But if it doesn't work, we might want to throw something, or have a hissy-fit. If we don't cook something well, do we respond the same way? Where has the Kiwi Number 8 Wire spirit of can-do, or the  yep, I can give that a go attitude gone?

In trying to answer my own questions, I came across a blog post when I googled "confidence +using digital technology". It talked about teacher confidence in using ICT, but addressed it in terms of providing professional development (PD). You can find Mark Anderson's blog post  HERE.

He also includes quite a neat graphic, but I was still disappointed. The graphic points to the input of PD making a difference to teachers' confidence. I would argue instead, that what is likely to make the most difference to teachers' confidence/competence is what happens to students' learning when they try  new stuff out. This connection with students' learning is not addressed in Mark's graphic, but I argue that it is utterly central to any teacher's uptake of ICT. An article is in the pipeline on this, (queued for publishing in 2015) but an earlier musing on this same topic can be found HERE.

Is this paralysis (I know it's an overstatement) with ICT a generational,  dispositional, confidence, or gender thing? Or am I missing something else? Does anyone out there have a view?

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