You can read a situation in many ways. I read Wesch's situation not as a cautionary tale about using technology in one's teaching, but as recognition of something we've always known: teachers have individual styles and, the more experienced they are, the more established their comfort zones. It is tough to leave the comfort zone, whatever that may be. But teaching through this new time is tough, and this seems like a valuable conversation to have.
True, deep learning is usually uncomfortable. It should rock your ideas to the core, make you roll back on your heels and say, WHOA, I never thought of it like that. Cognitive dissonance, I tell my students. Learn to
But there are so many layers. Let me try to sketch these out.
Over the semesters I've taught this course, I've seen that even this one layer is challenging in so many ways:
The computers. How do you turn them on? How do you sign in to the College's system? The wiki, the blog, the shared folder of documents-- the passwords. So many passwords. So many pages on the wiki. Which page are we on? How will I get back to it? How do I find something? Tags? What's that? Wait, how will I know my blogging partners have written? Oh, the new blog title is bolded in my Google Reader. Oh, that means I need to check it regularly.
I count at least a dozen balls alone in the paragraph above.
Then we add a new layer. We read. It's not easy reading, either, and the ideas? They are so unsettling. Since when did literacy go plural? What's the difference between Discourse and discourse? (and why should I care?) And what about books, and literature, and.... (So many ideas, so many projectiles, help, I'm dying here.)
Then we start talking about the so what. If we can have class in a virtual space and see each other and talk to each other, what's the purpose of place-- a classroom, a building. If anybody can add a wiki page, write something that challenges what the teacher says, suggest that deadlines or projects or readings be changed, then what's the purpose of a set-in-stone syllabus (curriculum)? What counts as learning? Who decides?
Then there's reality. How can any of this make sense when every site is blocked in my school? When we don't have computers? When we spend the entire year preparing for tests because we're a turn-around school? Why aren't you telling us the answers?
Because we haven't created them yet.
In my head, of course, loom the fears. The awareness that everything students might be thinking about me as a teacher could be true: I'm disorganized, indecisive, ignorant. That I sound like a nut case. That the course, already on the outer reaches of the department's priorities for teacher preparation, is going to fizzle and die.
More opportunities to learn.
Image: boles grounge by Miquel Bohigas Costabella via Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 2.0