Saturday, January 16, 2010

Is It OK To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?

This week we take you away from this blog (just click on the title found later in this post) to visit one of the most famous blog posts in educational circles: Karl Fisch's post Is It OK to Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher? in which he argues that "If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write. "

After you have finished reading his post, leave a comment for him but please return to this blog (just press the back button on your browser) and leave a comment here as well.

Our questions remain the same:

1. To what extent do you accept the implicit and/or explicit arguments of this blog post?
2. Are there any implications that you can identify for the College of Education and/or the courses you teach?
3. If we were to attempt to meet the future technological needs of our students, what assistance would you need?
4. Any other comments you would like to make.

Thank you!

Many thanks.


  1. I whole heartedly agree Karl Fisch-it is NOT okay to be a technologically illiterate teacher. I actually don’t think it is okay for anyone to be technologically illiterate today. I have a perfect example of this: My mother is 77 years old. When my daughter went away to college and got a new laptop, I gave my mom my daughter’s desktop computer. This was five years ago. My mother was very excited about it and I worked diligently with her to help her learn how to get on the Internet-- which was not an easy task. Back in “the day,” she was one of the fastest typists I ever knew and those fast fingers of hers got me through all my undergraduate research papers and essays. I felt I owed it to her to teach her some basic computer skills. Did I get frustrated? YES! Did she get even more frustrated? DEFINITELY! Did she learn how to surf the Internet? Well, not only did she learn how to do that but she now does most of her shopping online and uses the word processing system daily. I really admire my mother’s attitude at her age. If my 77 year old mother is willing to learn some basic technological skills, I am convinced that the teachers who still hold the attitude of resistance can change too. It just takes time. The problem is that with the way the world is changing and the way our technological world is growing so rapidly, we don’t have the time that we have had in the past.

    I read many of the comments that the bloggers posted to Mr. Fisch and loved the discussion about literature. They talked about how they loved books and how they are passionate about using the books in their classrooms. Do they not realize that all these books are now on Kindles and Sony E-Readers? Most of the books I read these days are on my Sony E-reader that I got for Christmas. That was one of my favorite presents along with my new laptop, my Iphone and my Garmin. I have to admit that I am working hard to become a technology geek.

    With that said, I will admit that I have not always been as accepting of technology as I may sound. Oh, I had a computer the minute they came on the market and have always loved to tinker with the video gaming systems my son had while growing up. But, when it came to teaching online, I was one of those who dug my heels in along with all those “other” resistant college profs. I was the first to say that there was “absolutely no way for the delivery of reading methods classes to be effective in an online format.” I had a sudden change of heart when I was teaching at a university in south Florida and the dean came to me and said if I didn’t put the reading class I was teaching online, he would find someone else to do it. I was basically forced to do it with that comment because I loved that class and was certainly not going to let anyone else put it online. That was the beginning of my online teaching. Being forced to put that class online was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I had no choice but to learn what was involved and how to set up a class. Now, I teach fully online and our reading masters program is completely online. Yes-I have come a long way.

    I think we have to be patient with teacher resistance and have compassion for those who continue to fight against it because the problem is they really don’t understand it, just as I didn’t. We need to continue to dialogue with those who are resistant and share ideas with each other. This blog is a perfect example of sharing; unfortunately, it seems those of us who take part are already sold on the importance of being technologically literate.

  2. Perhaps it is because a few years have passed since this blog was first posted, but I do not find Fisch's premise all that shocking. I think this line of thought is becoming more and more accepted (except by those who don't agree). An expectation that teachers at all levels become technologically literate seems very reasonable.

    Today I was approached by a teacher/friend who said, "You MUST come visit my classroom. I have 12 new workstations for my students to use on a regular basis." I asked her several questions about her interest and comfort level with technology. She summed it up by saying that several years ago her school received a lump sum of money to be spent on technology. They purchased many items but were offered no training in how to integrate them into their teaching and therefore, it had little impact on student achievement. The recent acquisition came WITH training and she now incorporates technology into her daily teaching. I found this single distinction very interesting but not surprising.

    Although it would be ideal for all teachers to be technologically literate, I don't think this can be enforced through a system of negative consequences. I still witness teachers who speak in non-Standard forms of English as well as those who are unable to communicate effectively through writing. Until these basic forms of literacy are enforced, I don't see how we can enforce technological literacy.

  3. I also think that the meaning of technology literacy has greatly changed. Many teachers would consider themselves technologically literate because they can create powerpoints. I agree with Karyn that training is absolutely essential, as is a commitment to using what we learn. I do think that a teacher can be technologically literate, but unless the content knowledge and pedagogy are there, the teacher may not be effective. As well, I have many students who can use technolgy well, but have little substance in what they produce.