So, February 1st is Digital Literacy Day. It was also the day I led a My Big Campus workshop for the other teachers at my school. This was completely coincidental.
First, allow me to explain what My Big Campus is.
My Big Campus is a social networking site for school. It has all of the basic social networking features such as walls and profiles and private messaging, but it also allows teachers to create groups for each of their classes, assign quizzes, facilitate online discussions, and even more that I am not going to explain right now. While My Big Campus is a great motivational tool for the students, it will be most effective if every teacher uses it to some degree.
One of the reasons I love my school is because the staff is open to experimenting in the classroom…for the most part. If you have ever spent time in the education world you may know that it can be difficult to get teachers to adopt new methods into their classroom, especially if those teachers have been teaching for a long time. Now throw in computers and technology and it can be damn near impossible – depending on the teacher, that is.
So, because I am such an eager beaver teacher I wiggled my way into piloting My Big Campus for my school. I love My Big Campus, so naturally I think everyone else should too – but when I talked to other teachers about it I realized that they were not as eager to use it as I was. In fact, many of them were worried that they would get into trouble for using it given the recent headlines regarding teachers and Facebook. Others didn’t see how it could work in their classroom because they only have four or five computers, not thirty-two.
These are perfectly reasonable concerns. My solution: lead a My Big Campus workshop to clear up confusion and to help get teachers acquainted with the possibilities of the site. I talked to administration and they agreed that the February 1st early release day would be a good time to hold the workshop.
The workshop went well, but not as I had planned. First of all a handful of teachers were gone due to AVID responsibilities and the Special Ed. Department was pulled away for professional development. A few other teachers had to leave early for one reason or another, so I only had about sixteen show up.
Each teacher retrieved a netbook upon walking into the classroom. I showed them a Prezi on My Big Campus before launching into the details of the site. Most of the teachers were engaged, but one teacher, let’s call him Mr. Lee, was too busy writing on a post-it note to participate in the workshop. He did have a computer open in front of him though, so I just ignored him. A few minutes later I noticed that he hadn’t looked up from his post-it note, so I decided to look at his computer screen – perhaps he needed help.
The computer was turned off. This ticked me off a bit. I mean, I was volunteering my time and energy to help him out. He didn’t seem to notice my presence, so I got his attention.
Me: “Well, Mr. Lee, you won’t be able to set up My Big Campus if your computer is turned off!” I gave him a friendly smile and turned on his computer.
Mr. Lee: “Oh, well I was just working on this…”
Me: “Well we are working on My Big Campus.”
Mr. Lee: “Yes, I know, but we had talked about it already the other day so…”
Me: “So now we are setting it up!” I said with a smile. “Let me know when you’ve caught up.” I walked away.
I turned around and saw one of the other teachers shaking her head and laughing. She caught my eye and winked at me. Golly.
At first, I was annoyed with Mr. Lee for his rude behavior, but then I decided not to spend my energy dwelling on it. Instead, I decided to think about the reasons behind his actions and came up with the following ideas:
1. Mr. Lee has been teaching for about fifteen years(ish).
2. Mr. Lee is from a different cultural group than I am.
3. Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant.
Now, Mr. Lee’s behavior makes a bit more sense to me. When I think back to my job selling wedding dresses, I never liked it when a newer sales consultant tried to give me sales advice. I was meeting my sales goals perfectly fine on my own, thank you very much. I preferred to be the one doling out advice to the newbies.
Educational Psychology 310 pointed out that different cultural groups have different standards of socially acceptable behavior. Perhaps according to Mr. Lee’s culture he was giving support by simply showing up. Any participation thereafter was optional.
Finally, and I think this is the most important point, Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant (someone born before the cultural integration of modern technology). Digital immigrants are naturally more cautious and resistant towards new technology than digital natives (someone born after the cultural integration of modern technology), who embrace new technology and are able to master it much more efficiently.
I consider myself to be a digital native, even though some of my peers consider themselves to be digital immigrants. My family was always very up-to-date with new computers when I was growing up, and my dad now owns his own computer support business in North Carolina. My point is that I was given multiple digital learning opportunities during the critical period for language acquisition. Mr. Lee (I am assuming) was not.
So, the simple facts are: I am very comfortable with computers and the internet. Mr. Lee is not. I am a new teacher. Mr. Lee is not. I am excited about incorporating technology into my classroom. Mr. Lee is not.
Now I feel much better.