As the week of work at the 2012 MA New Literacies Institute wrapped up, I was left with a ton of thoughts about what this means in regards to my work with teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. I discussed these in length in a previous post on this blog, but in all honesty the focus of the last piece remained fixed on what responsibilities I had as a pre-service teacher educator, and an individual that frequently develops and facilitates technology and literacy professional development. In this post I want to take a look at what I believe to be the responsibilities of individual teachers as they relate to the use of technology in the classroom.
As I stated previously, I think educators on all levels (K-12 and higher ed) need to find a place for the various digital texts and tools that are available for teaching and learning. This is a brash statement given the plethora of tools that exist, the unforeseen tools that will soon be available, and the unknown future of new and digital literacies. I make the argument that educators must have a first step. They must make a conscious effort to put one toe in the water. This may be online discussions, use of YouTube videos in instruction, or even using a classroom website. We need to start somewhere, and the first step may be the most difficult.
I believe that as more things change…the more they stay the same. I believe that the teacher is the biggest, most important factor involved in the authentic and effective use of technology in the classroom is individual teacher dispositions. The culture of the school, district, grade level, students, parents, and community all play a role. But, I believe that one teacher can make a world of difference.
In my dissertation I take a look at how this impacts on the classroom, and the knowledge, skills, and dispositions teachers must employ as they work with technology. There is a need for a reconsideration of the pedagogical dynamics that occur in a classroom, including: (a) an expansion of how teachers prepare their lesson plans, (b) an understanding of how teachers assemble outside sources of data and examples, and (c) the interaction between students and teachers. Some of these changes require an expanded view of “text” to include visual, digital and other multimodal formats and training in ICT tool use. The net result is a richer and more complex definition of literacy. This expansion requires a reconsideration of theoretical framing of research and our understanding of literacy.
This requires more flexibility on the part of the instructor as they develop methods of instruction and deal with classroom management issues. Given the lack of traditional classroom structure that might be experienced while working in this instructional model, instructors should be more flexible and tolerant as students become actively engaged in the learning process. An appreciation is required for the complexities, pitfalls, advantages, and limitations inherent when using online information in an instructional model. Given the deictic nature of the Internet, a constant reconsideration must occur to account for the continual development of new concepts, processes, and approaches. In effect, technology and literacy intertwined in instruction allows instructors and students to work collaboratively and continually define what it means to be able to read, write, and communicate effectively within the current milieu.