Challenges, Learning, Misconceptions

The interviewee, Lisa, is a teacher and educational technology coordinator of an international school in Bangkok Thailand. In addition to these duties, she teaches grade 7 language arts. She has been with the school for 7 years and has held the formal title for the last 3 years. Over the course of these years, she has been heavily involved in the growth of the school. Below is a summary of our interview, split into specific points.

Challenges

One of the main challenges talked about was that of consistency when you are doing the job in an international setting. Many new teachers come in every year and there is a sense of “starting over” in terms of getting full teacher buy into the programs used. Lisa also discussed at length the issue of time. In a job that is not always well understood it can be difficult to manage her time and monitor and encourage the other teachers effectively. She also noted that admin support is a crucial element in the success of the job. When admin is supportive and helps to enforce the importance of the job it increases the chances for success greatly.

Learning

Lisa indicated how important it is to understand the people you work with, realizing not everyone comes with the same passion, interest, and often times they come with preconceived notions they cannot figure the technology out. This led her away from doing professional development that was example based, to workshops where teachers did hands-on activities. This ensured that there was always a takeaway, that teacher could use. Differentiation, she learned, is important when dealing with colleagues also.

Misconceptions

The most common misconception people have about educational technology, according to Lisa, is that it is essentially the same job as an IT technician. Explaining to teachers her job doesn’t include fixing computers is a common occurrence each year.

A further misconception about tech that is often harder to manage than the belief technology shouldn’t be used is the belief technology should always be used and adds value in every instance. Truthfully one always has to evaluate every activity based on its merit and if the tech adds no value to the exercise then you need to upgrade the activity. For example putting a worksheet online into a form may be using technology but it’s still a worksheet and has the same value as it did on paper in terms of learning.

3 comments

  1. Hi Ryan!

    I found your interview notes to be very complementary to the realities faced at my current school. We are not necessarily an international school but in the past few years we have had an influx of teachers who have taught overseas return to BC. There is definitely something to be said about the challenge of ‘starting over’ when teachers are constantly coming and going. This can be difficult to control, but as you say with supportive admin and a edtech coordinator this challenge can be alleviated. As well, I agree with the point that often an edtech coordinator/coach often is misunderstood by staff as the go-to person to fix problems with computers. This must be a frustrating component to the position.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Cristina

  2. Hi Ryan

    I agreed with Lisa’ statement that educational technology doesn’t always add values to every class activity. I do not believe that we need educational technology for every single activity in a classroom because technology not carefully evaluated can be a huge distraction. I have witnessed many times backchannel social networking discussions caused distractions due to lack of moderation and difficulty of following the conversation. My interviewee believed that the most important aspect of integrating educational technology is to create learning environments in which students actively construct knowledge in cognitive partnerships with technology (Hooper & Rieber, 1995). We shouldn’t implement educational technology because everyone is talking about it.

  3. Hi Ryan,

    I agree that teachers can sometimes fall into the trap of using technology for technology’s sake, and that the usage of technology in these instances doesn’t support or enhance student learning. One item that came up in my interview with a colleague was that technology can sometimes be a distraction, and can actually negatively impact student learning, if the integration is not clearly intentional and poorly designed.

    In terms of PD, the notion that teachers need a ‘takeaway’ from sessions involving technology is a crucial point. Especially for teachers that are reluctant or lack confidence with integrating technology, the need for practical, hands-on opportunities is essential for supporting and enhancing their approaches to teaching with technology. Having a practical example, that they can immediately apply in the classroom with their students, makes the PD seem worthwhile and beneficial.

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