I recently researched distance learning for a paper. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the research, but I came away with some valuable insights, as well as some issues to ponder.
One of the major ideas I came across is that resistance to distance learning often comes about because teachers want to keep the traditional classroom format while integrating new technologies into the process. I think it’s a common occurrence that teachers (or anybody, really) are used to the “old” methods. So instead of looking at the new technologies as ways of changing some aspects of their classroom that aren’t successful with students who work best in alternate modalities, they try to substitute it in. Oftentimes, that means that they’re not taking full advantage of the capabilities of the educational technology. I’ve recognized the same tendencies in myself. It’s easier to work from a place of comfort. When you’re familiar with a way of doing things, it’s obviously difficult to change.
There’s also the wariness of the new technology. As I think everybody knows, it can be intimidating when you’re encountering something new. What’s more, frustration can get the best of anybody.
I think back on Dr. Ransom’s advice to try to master one new thing at a time. I think it’s important to try out one piece of educational technology, get a feel for it. If it’s not something you’re comfortable with, it’ll be difficult to use it with your students. Once you’ve mastered it (or since technology is changing all the time, once you’ve reached a good comfort level with it), try out something new.
There’s one resource that I keep forgetting about, and that’s the students. I’m becoming increasingly aware that there are certain technologies that I won’t know about, but my students will have been exposed to. I’ve often found that children like to be able to teach adults, as well. I think it’s a good lesson when kids learn that adults are educating themselves all the time, too. Learning is a lifelong process that never ends. When you share your excitement to learn, you have the ability to teach your students that learning is exciting.