Seven years ago, I did a research project on blended and personalized professional development. There were a few big take-homes that I hadn’t considered before. For example, I learned that “personalized” only works when there is a collaborative and creative component. I also learned that policy issues play a huge role in the connection between pedagogy and practice.
But the biggest take-home was that staff members were not “unmotivated” to use technology. However, many of them struggled with self-efficacy. In other words, they rated themselves as low in their ability to use technology but also in their ability to learn tech integration strategies and in their sense of what great tech-integration pedagogy should look like. Their dominant emotions were optimism and fear.
So, today I had the Graduate Teaching and Leading faculty members take a survey on teaching hybrid, online, and face-to-face classes. It’s part of the Blended Learning Academy that I am working with a team on developing.
I focused the technology questions on educator efficacy, motivation, attitudes (and beliefs) and skills. The results were fascinating. Seven years later, with an entirely different group of educators, I found the same results. Professors were highly motivated to use technology but they had a low sense of self-efficacy.
It leaves me with a few observations:
- Professional development needs to empower learners rather than make them dependent on an “expert” as the fount of knowledge
- Professional development needs to allow educators to share their own pedagogical expertise as they start thinking about technology integration
- Technology-resistant teachers aren’t lacking in motivation so much as self-efficacy. They are often excited and scared. We need to be cognizant of that as we create learning opportunities for them.
- We need to stop bashing educators who don’t use technology. That kills self-efficacy. Seriously. Let’s find ways to celebrate victories instead of mocking deficiencies.
- Many professors are experiencing the same technology journey that K-12 teachers experience. We need to allow them to go through this journey.
- We need to find multiple models that allow educators to thrive. It might be small group, one-on-one coaching, short sessions, longer workshops, mini-courses, and “sandbox time” built into the schedule.
- Technology is reshaping our world in profound ways. Social media has reshaped our ability to hit a place of “deep focus.” Relationships and community are changing. We have a surplus of information but sometimes mistake that for knowledge or even wisdom. This is why technology criticism needs to be an honest part of the conversation. Some of the fear is reactionary but some of it is totally valid.
- We need to get past the agism. Many of the most tech-resistant teachers are newer and younger. Many veteran teachers have a rich understanding of technology integration.
I realize that some people will say, “Why are we even talking about technology and not pedagogy?” They’ll say things like, “We need to go beyond this surface level stuff.” But it’s not surface level at all. Technology is a powerful force reshaping humanity. The better we understand this, the better off we will be. I get it. I will never be an “app-smashing” kind of guy. I don’t want to see technology training in an isolated, “let’s learn this app” kind of way. However, we need to create opportunities to raise educator self-efficacy. We need teachers to feel empowered.