“Do you even know how smart I am in Spanish?” – An analogy of our struggle in educational technology

For Week One’s topic on online participation and digital literacies, my team and I went through a scenario in which the person is facing feelings of anxiety while dealing with online interaction. During our discussion, a group member pointed out that we educators often experience these feelings too, especially when we are expected to know how to use digital tools during teaching.

I thought to myself, huh. This rings a bell! I proceeded to look for a specific video clip by Sofia Vergara on Modern Family (source: https://www.facebook.com/reel/289789156268686):

 

In this video, Sofia conveys her frustration when she was perceived as one who is dim-witted and embarrassing, just because her English is not good as her Spanish.

I feel that this is the perfect analogy for our struggle in educational technology, when feelings are concerned. We feel frustrated that we cannot convey exactly what we want to do in class, and that we are seen by our students who is not good at their job; someone who lacks expertise in the subject-matter, just because we struggle in the medium. Driving on the constructivist approach and my own experience, I think we face these feelings as we expect our students to perceive us as the “more knowledgable other” and a role model in class. With this idea in mind, I started to explore why we perceive these feelings as educators, and how to overcome them.

Firstly, I found an online article that does touch on this topic, from the teacher’s perspective. Among other reasons, Hyndman (2018) attributes our struggle to use technology as “not all teachers ‘believe’ in using technology”. This is rather interesting, since most of us who joined ONL241 are thought to be ‘believers’, but we still go through the same challenges as everyone else.

In fact, I looked into several papers and found one that provides a much more academic take on this issue. Ardıç (2021) is of view that having a positive opinion and attitude on using educational technology, as well as high confidence in using these tools would have a greater impact on our students. Voila, I have found my answer!

All in all, I believe it’s important for us to acknowledge and accept these feelings as part and parcel of our journey to become educators that embrace technology.

References:

  1. Ardıç, M. A. (2021). Three internal barriers to technology integration in education: Opinion, attitude and self-confidence. Shanlax International Journal of Education, 9(1), 81-96. https://doi.org/10.34293/education.v9iS1-May.4004
  2. Hyndman, B. (2018). Ten reasons teachers can struggle to use technology in the classroom. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/ten-reasons-teachers-can-struggle-to-use-technology-in-the-classroom-101114

12 Comments

Susan Lee March 11, 2024 Reply

Hi Jonathan, interesting thoughts about teachers admitted to the importance of using technology and struggling alongside students.

Indeed, edu-tech can cast a love-hate relationships for educators and there are times when I wonder if certain tools and activities are made to impose a ‘use for the sake of using’. Honestly, the history of tech adoption in education might have had dark moments like these:)

But I think it is much better now with a variety of user-centred, intuitive and multi-function platforms where educators with students can choose and adopt with conviction for convenience. The struggles remain real as levels of savviness among users are different, and like what Dave said, it cannot be assumed that digital natives are necessarily natural.

In all, the admission to both struggles and
its potential is a healthy response to technology use in education. I think it’s healthy because to design and leverage technology meaningfully means to continuously question how we are using it to serve our purpose in education.

Jonathan Phan March 11, 2024 Reply

I wholly agree, Susan. Appreciate your comment!

Alastair Creelman March 11, 2024 Reply

Interesting analogy – digital literacy/fluency is like learning a new language. Many teachers avoid technology in order to preserve their credibility with their students just as others avoid using English. They fear that students will not take them seriously if their use of digital media is not broadcast TV standard or they are not totally fluent in English. How can we overcome these fears?

Jonathan Phan March 11, 2024 Reply

In my opinion, learning how to use an educational tool is somewhat like driving; we can learn about the functions of the tool out of class, but nothing beats actual experience! I suggest using it in front of your students, and constantly reflect on how to use it more effectively next time 🙂

Verica Aleksic Sabo March 11, 2024 Reply

Interesting analogy! Your reflection provides valuable insights into the complexities of navigating educational technology and offers a constructive perspective on overcoming challenges and embracing technology as a tool for enhancing teaching and learning experiences.

Jonathan Phan March 11, 2024 Reply

Thank you Verica!

Vesna Bulatović March 11, 2024 Reply

This is a great post that highlights a common struggle for educators using educational technology! Just like Sofia, we can feel like we’re not getting our point across effectively, despite our expertise in the subject matter. It’s normal to feel frustrated as we learn to integrate technology into the classroom. By acknowledging these feelings and focusing on developing a positive attitude, we can become more effective educators who embrace technology!

Jonathan Phan March 11, 2024 Reply

Appreciate your sentiments, Vesna!

Anna Zemskova March 18, 2024 Reply

Hi Jonathan!
What a wonderful choice of the title for your post, it made my day!:)
I think that your analogy perfectly reflects a struggle we all seem to be having to some extent as educators, namely, having to tread carefully when we have to leave our comfort zone and ‘dive’ into the digital world and spend more time/effort in this new context in comparison to the modi of operandi we are used to.

Jonathan Phan March 28, 2024 Reply

Thanks for the great comment, Anna!

JL March 30, 2024 Reply

Hi JP. Yes, indeed sometimes learning to use a technology tool for education is like learning a new language. Thankfully, we can get better at it as we journey together as a learning community. Indeed ONL is like a sandbox where we can experiment with various ‘tools’ and get better at it. And having a positive attitude definitely helps. Thanks for being part of our ‘positive’ PBL group which has made the journey better. JL

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