Do learners want to use technology?

And we are off! Freshers are back and timetabled teaching starts next week. I’m a keen user of technology and, as I meet the new learners on the programme, I have started to wonder whether I am implementing too much technology within my teaching and whether, by actually keeping up with new technologies, I am actually using technology when they, as in the learners, are not really interested in its use. Welcome to this week’s waffle…


As part of the new starter’s list of lectures, I present a session on subject audits and the technology that is used to support teaching and learning within the programme. The technology I present within the session ranges from social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, to blogs, podcasts and Lynda.com. We use Twitter a lot within the programme in a variety of ways and I am always pleased to see the number of learners who actually engage with the feeds and start to follow. However, not everyone appears to join and I wonder whether, as we implement the use of technology, learners actually want to engage with technology or whether, being a self confessed geek, I am actually using something which they are not intrinsically interested in engaging with.

  • Learners are happy with where they are – One of my tasks that I probably complete every day is trying and keep up to date with the progression of technology and its use within teaching and learning. Whether the use of technology has its own pedagogy or whether it just embeds with previously recognised pedagogies is waffle for some other time, but as new applications and software come into existence, I consider their application to my practice and reflect the impact that the new technology could have. Technology and teaching both have my interest but in other areas which do not, I probably learn something new and then stay at that point of learning for some time before being made, or encouraged, to move on. Is this the case with the use of technology with learners? If they are secure at a certain stage, they might not want to or even feel the need to progress. Although I would always introduce, reflect and analyse the benefits of the use of technology within my teaching/learning, this is always subjective, and many will frequently remind me of the ‘other non-technical’ way this can be achieved. So as I get excited and keen to implement new technologies, maybe I need to remind myself that this eagerness may not be shared by all learners. Maybe, they just are happy where they are in their use of technology and I should recognise and accept this.

  • “Accompanying the usually fire fighters, police constables and footballers were two children who wanted to be Youtubers”

  • Is technology completely embedded in their lives? -I remember talking in a session about the use of technology and that we are, within the primary school, preparing children for jobs that have not yet been created. It was during this discussion that one of the learners told us of the responses of the children to the question – what job do you want when you grow up? Accompanying the usually fire fighters, police constables and footballers were two children who wanted to be Youtubers. We often talk about children being more ‘used to’ technology than we are and, along with the positives and negatives of this, how they have the confidence to use devices almost naturally. Education always tries to maintain a positive correlation with the use of new technologies and maybe this presents somewhat of a gap between the ‘teaching’ and the learners? As each new cohort of learners attend higher education, I have noticed, the increased use of devices for note taking within my sessions. This I think, reflects the way technology is becoming more embedded within their daily tasks and lives. Soon, I beleive, it will not be that we have to encourage learners to use technology, but more I will be trying to keep up with their use of technology.

  • Bad press? -Technology can sometimes have some ‘bad press’ attached to it. I have been using Twitter since it first appeared as an application, and its use has certainly changed over the years. I remember trying to explain it when it first came out to my ‘less techie’ friends thinking, yes, why am I just telling the world what I am actually doing every hour. How we engage with Twitter has changed throughout the years and it has itself developed both its use and purpose. When I introduce it now, I use a different way to describe it because of this change. However, sometimes people continue associate the ‘bad press’ to the use of technology. Of course, people use this bad press as an excuse to avoid technology – but again, that is a topic of a different waffle. Reflection is a core element of learning and acknowledging the changes within technology and returning to its application to reassess it use, is something which we need to not only do ourselves but also encourage the learners to do. Yes, sometimes our views might remain unchanged and that’s fine, but sometimes we might just find that changes have occurred that now benefits both our teaching and learning.

  • By writing this waffle, the intention is not to gain followers or convert all learners to the use of technology. It was more to try to understand why some learners might not actually want to or feel the need to engage with technology. One aspect of the discussion, might be ownership of the technology, especially with respect to social media, and that is something I will be discussing on this week’s live show in the opinion minion segment so if you have an opinion about this, then do head over to the forums and add to the discussion.

    If you have your own views or thoughts on this waffle then I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas. You can add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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    Have fun and I’ll catch you later