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Kelly Dumont

This is one of those educational speak items that gets painted with too broad of a brush in my opinion. Sure there are older teachers who don't or won't use new technology. But at least for those I work with there are plenty who will. It may take them awhile to understand or pick up the new skills, but the make the effort.
As far as the new teachers, I find some of their technology skill sets to be fairly limited a lot of the time. Yes, they can create and email a Word document, but beyond that gets a little dicey. The other thing about the new teachers is that they are so busy trying to figure out how to teach that they have less time to learn about new technologies than older teachers.

Jon Becker

Yep, this is something I've found in my research (which confirms Hank Becker's research) as well. The degree to which teachers integrate technology is not so much a function of age/experience as it is a function of ease/facility with constructivist teaching principles. Even today's newer/younger teachers are still saddled with what the great educational sociologist Dan Lortie termed the "10,000 hour problem" (or something like that). Despite all they learn in ed. schools as preservice teachers, they still tend to resort to what they saw from the 10,000 hours of sitting in class as students observing their teachers. So, until we have enough teachers who model good technology integration, we won't have generational differences.

And, don't get me started on the role of ed. schools. Why should we expect new teachers to be facile with technology when their preservice training involves a single 3-credit course on how to use Microsoft Office...

pete reilly

Kelly and Jon,
It's interesting that the "common sense" in some circles is that educational transformation will take place when these older teachers retire and these new ones come in.

As you say, Jon, if these students educational experience is pretty much limited to lecture halls, can we expect them to be different than those that have come before?

Having said that, I still have some blind faith that the next generation will do better.



I'm not sure whether I count as a new, young teacher or an old one at this point. I'm mid-career, let's say. However, I have had interesting experience technologically. I spent eight years in a a very "techie" district, where I was, at best, in the middle of the pack as far as technology goes. I know how to put together a webquest or powerpoint. I blog occasionally (but never with students). I even tried to set up "e-pals" once with a school in France. It was a miserable failure. Then, I needed a full-time job, so I switched to a new district. I found myself at the head of the technology parade! Being able to throw together a powerpoint in a half an hour is unheard of on my team. Using social anything on line is totally foreign to these teachers. I'm not sure what the difference is. I went from middle school to elementary. The average age of teachers in my new building is about twenty years my senior, whereas the old building I was one of the older (ahem, more senior) teachers. I'd like to think I'm great, but having had the previous eight years experience, I know I'm really just a tech wannabe. I am not a digital native, just a happy immigrant.

pete reilly

Maybe educational transformation is less about using technology and more about adopting new classroom pedagogies and teaching strategies, where kids are much more active and responsible for their own learning...

Maybe, for some, it's easier to create a Powerpoint or use a Smartboard than to change the fundamental way they teach.


Nedra Isenberg

I think another issue here, especially for the older teachers who may not feel as comfortable using technology, is a time factor. We’re often shown some new piece of technology on one of our few professional days. Then we’re left on our own. A few people will see immediate ways to take off and use it, a few will be interested and think they want to try it out and others will not see any use. Those who are in the middle are the ones that need support-encouragement to try it, TIME to figure it out, TIME to collaborate with others. However, that support is often lacking. I think many teachers need the same type of modeling/scaffolding we are expected to use with our own students. Those that are in the middle will soon get caught up in the everyday web of lesson plans, communicating with parents, grading etc. and without support and someone to collaborate with the plan for using the new technology will soon be gone.

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