Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why schools seem unwilling to adopt new technologies (#change11)

Oftentimes people point to research conducted in a university context to ask why teachers aren't implementing social media services into their teaching practice. The simple answer is schools are different to universities, our clientele is different. The clientele of a university is it's students - the clientele of a school is society in general and parents in particular. Before we try and convince teachers to grasp change in education, it is always necessary to convince parents that it is safe to do so.

I wonder what parents' first reaction would be if they knew that their child had 2000 people reading their child's blog. From my experience as a teacher there could well be a reaction of fear. The idea that 2000 strangers were watching their child would frighten some parents, especially parents who are unaware of blogs and their uses. I think this is part of the reason why we are slow to adopt new technologies in schools. Here is one principal's recent reaction to Facebook. The comments about the article speaks loudest of all about why social media is not being used in schools.

Ten years ago I was teaching students how to use email using Hotmail. Within a very short time Hotmail and other web based email was blocked by the school system I work in, and it took a number of years before an email service was provided to each student. Why was email blocked and then released under strict control? Because of the fear of students sending inappropriate messages to each other. YouTube is blocked. Why? Same reason, only its video not messages.

No doubt, in a few years time all manner of social media services will be available to students under strict, filtered conditions. In the meantime teachers will be unable to fully implement Personal Learning Networks for their students.


  1. Thanks Allan a good blog ...I do relief primary school teaching in Bendigo Victoria...Are you in Western Australia? I taught over there for 16 years North to South is enormous area Chat soon on Skype

  2. Here is my concern...
    parents are clearly concerned about Social networking media - especially with regards to cyberbullying. Most will admit to being ilequiped to offer guidance and support on how to use it but still allow their children to use it (AT HOME!). Everytime the topic is raised within the school context there is an outcry and a demand to ban it. So....if the parents aren't offering guidance and modeling appropriate usage, and the Teachers are not allowed to offer the same, guess who is teaching your child how to behave and respond in the online community?!?! Either no-one, each other or worse...!
    It is time parents and the school community got on the same page and arrived at a sensible approach to helping our students be responsible digital citizens just as we expect them to be in the physical world. I purposefully did not use the term 'real' as these online communities are very REAL to teens and pre-teens.

  3. Glad you like the blog Ian. I'm mostly in NSW but I plan to go back up to the NT soon, next term hopefully. I teach IT, mostly high school but did a stint K-12 in the NT a couple years back. Were you teaching primary in WA?

  4. Hi mrsski. I agree completely. Fear seems to be driving the debate around this issue, fear of the unknown mostly because most parents and teachers are struggling to keep up with changes. My neighbour told me recently how dangerous "that Facebook is" - he doesn't own a computer and has never seen Facebook!