A teacher said to me “I don’t have time to use technology in my teaching”.
What a strange thing to say! – I can’t think of any other professional occupation in which people feel that computer technology slows them down, gets in the way and makes their work less efficient? In other professions it reduces friction, increases productivity and saves time (and money). That is why those industries least forgiving of inefficiency, are most investedin computer technology.
I don’t think the teacher I spoke to is alone, either (I think her feelings are quite common among teachers, actually). And what’s more, I don’t doubt that she is right! Technology probably does make her work less efficient. But that is because she’s doing it wrong.
Steve Jobs said that a computer is like “a bicycle for our minds” meaning that it magnifies the efficiency of our thinking the way a bicycle improves the efficiency of our locomotion. I love that analogy – and I think it’s very true, but it does, of course, assume that you actually ride the bike (rather than wheeling it alongside while walking). In order to ride a bike, you have got to stop walking. You can’t do both. If you’re not prepared to give up walking, then the bicycle is a hindrance.
When teachers describe technology as a hindrance to their work, I say that’s because they are unprepared to let go of their old methodologies. Instead of “riding” technology, they’re “wheeling” it alongside their old teaching practices.
Some time ago I posted about iPadio a web service that for years has been a key part of my students’ toolkit. iPadio allows a student to record a podcast (aka “phonecast” or “phlog”) directly to the internet, for free, from an ordinary landline or mobile telephone. In my experience this is a really easy, no-fuss way to get students to publish their learning orally, anywhere, anytime they have a phone at their disposal.
The service also provides the ability to automatically cross-post phonecasts to iTunes, Facebook or a class blog. That’s what I had my students do, so that my students and I didn’t have to visit 25 different websites to listen to each others’ phlogs).
I was excited to recently get an email from iPadio, announcing that they have finally released an iPad app which means students, armed with an iPad and having an internet connection can now record and publish a podcast conveniently from the classroom. The app is incredibly simple to use and the sound quality is excellent because unlike iPadio’s free phone service, the audio is recorded on the iPad at a relatively high bitrate and subsequently uploaded (rather than using the phone network in real time).
The iPadio app is free and available from the iTunes app store. It is necessary for students to create a free account to use the service and they should be reminded to take appropriate cybersafety precautions, remembering that their iPadio page and the podcasts on it will be available to the public.