When I see a new website, tool, or gadget, I want to try it right away…if it weren’t for the thousands of other items on my ‘to-do’ list. However, if it is interesting, useful, or relevant enough, I will make the time to experiment with it. There are many reasons why we make time for one activity over another. I found an article by Denice Bailey, Sharlett Gillard, and Ernest Nolan titled, Ten Reasons for IT Educators to be Early Adopters of IT Innovations. Their ten reasons, briefly summarized, are:
10. The sun came up today. Change is inevitable and our job is to embrace each new innovation.
9. You read the obituaries and your name was not listed. A futile resistence to change will lead to professional stagnation and eventually, death.
8. There they go, and I must go after them, for I am their leader. It’s not about knowing everything, but about having an open mind and the excitement and fearlessness to learn along with your students.
7. If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. We need to live up to our own expectations (sometimes more accurately described as delusions) that we are relatively up-to-date with new innovations.
6. Life is good when you have the right tools for the job. Since teaching and learning is ever-changing, we should continuously be searching for what works for our new situations.
5. IT educators are by definition movers and shakers. We guide students and colleagues in various directions, and help them to identify and evaluate new tools.
4. Someone is keeping score. Not only do students expect us to keep up with them, but so do administrators, parents, industry, higher education, and society as a whole.
3. Technology, technology, technology. Technology has permeated all aspects of our lives and so we need to continuously learn about it, use it, and understand the complex relationship that we have with it.
2. Fulfilling the “leadership” role of higher education. Institutions of higher education use technology integration as a measure of innovation, status, and advancement.
1. Setting the example for our students. Our ultimate goal is to model for our students, how they should approach change, new technologies, and new challenges throughout their lives.
What stands out for me in the list are reasons 8, 6, 5, and 1. Regarding reason 8 (there they go, and I must go after them), I believe strongly that teachers are no longer the all-knowing presence that dispenses information to empty-headed students. We are guides who help provide frameworks for learners, and teach them to think, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and draw conclusions. We can learn as much from our students as they can from us. Along with this, we have to help parents, staff, and students understand our changing role, since it can be uncomfortable for them too.
Regarding reason 6 (life is good when you have the right tools for the job), this is why we experiment and learn in the first place. We figure out ways to operate more efficiently, solve problems, and ultimately, live better. Whenever people ask me why I am trying something new, there is always a reason that leads to higher productivity, more knowledge, deeper understanding, and more learning.
Reason 5 (IT educators are by definition movers and shakers) is important because we are teaching the people who will become the future of our society. Part of our professional obligation as IT educators is to help them reach the future. Society expects us to develop new ways of approaching technology, especially as it pertains to the future of education and all of the changes that have, and continue to develop.
Reason 1 (setting the example for our students) is of course, the most important of all, because we are not only modelling for students, but also for teachers, administrators, parents, and the education system as a whole.
What are your thoughts on this article? What makes you motivated to take on new innovations and challenges first?