Being a Techie Role Model: An Observation

14 Nov

My Symbaloo Dashboard

In her blog, Roller Coster, Shelly Wright writes about the trials and tribulations of being a teacher that is working towards education reform.  In one section of her post she wrote:

“I also find that my students, although labelled, by some, as digital natives, aren’t all that technologically literate. If you take out Facebook, e-mail, IM, and texting, they use very little technology.  Most of the technology I use, they’ve never heard of.”

This reminded me of something that I noticed last week.  When I demonstrate a new tech tool to my students there are always some students that are enthusiastic about using it and then some that are ambivilent.  This is especially true if it is something that I am requiring them to use.  Having said that, last week I discovered something about my students.  They are just children that copy what adults do.  Case in point:  I was setting up my lap top and the projector to show my students Stixy and Wallwisher, which I plan to experienment with in my class.  When I hooked my laptop up and opened my browser, it automatically went to my homepage, which is my Symbaloo account.  The kids were all very curious so I quickly explained that it was a bookmarking dash board that allows me to access all my bookmarks and accounts from any computer.  I continued on to show them Wallwisher (which would not work, successfully ruining my lesson) and Stixy. While I was demonstrating the sites, one of my girls commented “I love how you know all these weird tech tools to use.”  When the bell rang for recess there were a few students lingering in the classroom.  As I went to ask them to go outside, I took notice of what they were doing.  They were setting up Symbaloo accounts.  A few days later, I noticed another student using his to access our class wiki.   They had copied me because I am a role model for their tech use.

I think that we sometimes assume that because these kids have grown up with technology, they automatically know what is out there, how to find it and what to do with it. As Shelly noted in the quote above, they are not born technologically literate.  They know how to use Facebook, email, IM etc. because it has been modeled for them in the media.  Facebook and Twitter are popular because they all over  TV. They are simply coping what they see adults doing  If we want them to move beyond only Social Networking tools, we need to show them what to use and how to use it and not assume that they just know how.  This is one more argument in support of encouraging schools to develop and employ technologically literate teachers.  There is so much out there to use but without us modeling how to responsibly use it, they probably won’t seek it out on their own.  We need to teach tech to them.


8 Responses to “Being a Techie Role Model: An Observation”

  1. Lyn Hilt November 15, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    Very cool story! I agree it’s important to acknowledge that not all students are comfortable with tech. It’s great you modeled for them the use of the new tools and that they took ownership of their learning and experimented further! It will be interesting to see how they’ll use the new tools after exploring on their own…

  2. byrnesa November 15, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    This post has me thinking… when teaching in a small town school, I have the priviledge (most of them time it’s a priviledge) of not only knowing my students very well, but also their parents. I am wondering if there is a correlation between student attitudes about technology and their parents’ attitude… I can think of one little boy who is very enthusiastic and I know his mother is a “techie” who blogs and uses technology on a regular basis. I am going to pay attention to this and I’ll let you know what i find out.

  3. courosa November 15, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    Modeling really is huge – very much part of the transition from teach to ‘lead learner’.

  4. mrthejud November 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    Mentoring is key and that is why we need to try like crazy to get the rest of our Colleagues on board. I can only digitally mentor students so much in an hour. Once they leave my classroom they head into someone else’s digital realm which is sometimes small.

    Good job getting the students interested in new digital experiences.

  5. Jaclyn November 16, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    I whole-heartedly agree. For the most part, we (adults) have abandoned their online world and those of us that do spend time there don’t always show them how we use it for our own learning.

  6. mrdubbs November 23, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    Nice to see how you are engaging students in new and engaging ways. I think Jud makes a nice point about mentoring, you can only do so much in one hour with students but if we can convince more colleagues to come on board then students can truly be surrounded by mentors.


  7. John Orlando December 24, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    I’ve found that students’ understanding is deep but narrow. They will be experts at World of Warcraft, or Facebook, but will have trouble with other applications.


  1. Tweets that mention Being a Techie Role Model: « Te(a)ch -- - November 14, 2010

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