Old teachers, new technology

My Thanks To …

My thanks go to Santtu Toivonen (Twitter: @touqo) for prompting this post.

Santtu tweeted “Any evidence or studies that the younger generation of teachers is more willing to adapt their teaching to fit new technologies? #edchat” which generated a fairly long exchange of tweets between him and me exploring a number of ideas, this helping me to clarify my own thoughts.

Initial Remarks

I will assume that all readers are familiar with the phenomenon that the ability to learn decreases with age. I will not explore this point further.

I will however mention an owner of a training organisation, in her 70s, who understands new technology very rapidly, and a lecturer in his mid-30s for whom using technology is somewhat difficult.

What I Learned

As a teacher, I will use the technology that is available, best suited to the learners’ needs, and which I feel I can use effectively. At one extreme, this could be two rocks to sit on, a stretch of sand between them, and a stick to draw with. (Who knows, I may well do this one day.) At the other extreme, it could be a mobile device that became available to the public earlier that day. I am fortunate: because of my own background in Information Technology, I find new technology particularly easy to use. To give a comparable example from the automotive industry, I would like to think that when gas-powered cars first became widespread, teachers would be very comfortable with the changes in the engine.

Different people have different aptitudes for different things: some find information technology very easy, while others can find it impenetrable. Again by way of offering two extremes, I realised that I had left my teacher behind when it came to learning how to program a computer about half-way through the course – this was back in 1970. At the other extreme, I still meet local teenagers who dread such classes – this could be due in part to the teacher, but having worked briefly with such teenagers they seem to lack the aptitude for the subject. This manifests itself in an inability to follow a set of steps in the order given, for example.

Da Capo

Looking into my crystal ball, I see more changes in degree over the next decade, rather than any changes in kind. The rapid transition from mobile phones to smart phones is a change in kind, but adding more power to smart phones is merely a change in degree: the crest of the Information Revolution is now behind us.

My guess is that tomorrow’s teachers will use the technologies with which they feel comfortable, and they will tend towards those subjects for which they have an aptitude.

Pictures and presentations: an issue of size

Reflections on an Edublogs/Collaborate Session

It was my pleasure to co-moderate a serendipity session where one of the topics was the large size of some PowerPoint files, and what to do about it. Jo Hart’s thoughts on the same Edublogs/Collaborate session are at http://johart1.edublogs.org/2012/02/20/edublogs-serendipity-webinar-overview-four-topics/.

I was moved by the difficulties of one of the participants to write a Google document about how this issue could be managed. It is a public document, with readers invited to add their comments for improvement, or they can send them to me via an e-mail link embedded within it. I have so had two very valuable contributions from readers; they are credited in the document. (For the sake of security, I am the only one able to edit it.)

I first came across Google documents years ago, but I had no cause at the time to use them. It was not until relatively recently that I started using Google documents, creating them as and when needed for some or other purpose, whether it be education (as in the example above) or business. I felt immediately at home when I first started using Google documents.