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Education Trends, Uncategorized   |   Jun 28, 2011

Stop the tech snobbery

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Stop the tech snobbery

By Angela Watson

If we want to ever get technophobes comfortable with technology, those of us who love the stuff have got to stop being tech snobs. I’m at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference where tech lovers in education unite. Unfortunately, there are occasional wafts of divisiveness that kill the otherwise pervasive spirit of collaboration and enthusiastic learning here:

  • Said to a publisher in the exhibit hall as he walked past dismissively: “I don’t read [printed] books. I have no use for them.”
  • Tweeted on Twitter: “I can’t believe tech people are hearing things at this conference that are 100% brand new to them. Very SCARY.”
  • Announced by a presenter in a session: “It burns me up inside when teachers tell me they’re using technology and then show me a PowerPoint they created.  Doesn’t that burn you guys up?”

Um, no, it doesn’t.

You can’t shame educators into using technology any more than you can shame kids into behaving. Does it work? Yeah, sometimes. But it also breeds resentment, bitterness, and fear which make learning twice as hard.

If  people are resistant to your ideas or slow to adapt them, it might be because they sense a patronizing, conscending attitude, one that you don’t intend to show but shines through nevertheless. They know you’re mocking them behind their backs to your fellow techies, which makes them resistant not only to you but to all the wonderful technology that you represent. It’s tough for learners to be open to new possibilities when they feel judged and defensive.

So, if you really want non-tech people to incorporate tech use into their instructional practice, you have to inspire them, not embarrass them. You have to demonstrate the passion you want others to exhibit. Be so enthusiastic about what you do that it’s contagious. Make experiences with technology so enjoyable that people can’t help but shift their paradigm.

Model. Support. Scaffold. Meet the non-tech users right where they’re at. Praise and encourage them in their small wins. Acknowledge that the learning curve is tough, and you’ve been there too…but the payoff is worth the perseverance.

That’s the way we treat our students. It’s the way we need to treat each other, too.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. Great post! I completely agree. I’m not at ISTE this year, but am trying to keep up from afar.

    I really think that we as teachers need to embrace the “practitioner” part of our occupation a little more. We are all on a journey, and journey’s have to start somewhere. If ISTE fulfills its goals, the conference will be more about learning than it is about technology, and it will start to draw together more than just the “techie” teachers. As someone who has been involved with technology in education for over 10 years, I go to tech conferences and have a much different experience than someone who has been teaching as long as me with no technology experience. That’s the way it should be! I hope sectionals, break-outs, lounges, and conference goers understand to differentiate their messages and embrace the “journey” model. If not, well……

    Thanks again for the post!

  2. Well stated. If we wish to influence the masses that have not yet acquired the zeal for education reform thru tech as a tool to achieve a goal, we must do so by showing and sharing how effective our methods are in the classroom. Not by shoving it down their throats and putting down their methods.

    1. Hi, Lee. I saw that tweet go out and thought it was great. I don’t think we were in the same session based on the contents of your other tweets at that time, so I assume you were hearing some of the same things where you were. I think it’s great that you addressed it head on. You’re right that we get trapped in our way of thinking and assuming others think (or should think) the way we do. Something as simple as your tweet can be the catalyst for greater awareness. Thank you!

  3. Very well put. No one needs to be embarrassed by any small steps. I always try to temper any tech professional development with care and concern and encouragement! But thanks for reminding me how important it is to continue that practice.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Marie. Embarrassment and shame should not be part of the learning process. Even if a person “deserves” to be embarrassed because they are not following best practices, we can choose to approach them with empathy and collaborate with them to create new instructional habits. Those are supposed to be the real 21st century skills, right? 🙂

  4. Hello Angela,
    I have followed you since you created your first site way back when. You are a true testament of walking in faith. I am sorry to ask this question on this post but it does deal with technology. I would like to know how you got the facebook feed on your site? Thanks for your time. Patricia 🙂

    1. Hi, Patricia! Thank you for the kind words. The info on getting a Facebook feed on a blog is not necessarily easy to find–I had to dig around for awhile before I found it, so I can see how you might wonder about this. The code for the plugin is actually offered by the developers at Facebook and is not a third party offering. The instructions are written in a way that assumes you have some web background, so if you need more help than what’s provided on the page, let me know and I’ll try to help you:

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