Sunday, November 13, 2011

Teachers and Life-long learning

By Anastasia Scott

Just as it is a generalization to assume everyone can be sorted into digital natives and digital immigrants, it is impossible to say that all grass-root teachers shun technology. However, in my previous school, I could identify a handful of classroom teachers who embraced technology to the extent that I think society would expect of a 21st Century teacher. Some teachers at my school resisted technology completely: put their iPad in a cupboard; refused a digital camera to blog with; made phone calls instead of booking labs online. This year a deputy offered me a folder of school policies, all printed "because teachers can't find them on the server." I'm talking about experienced educators with a lot to offer any school environment.

I want to teach through technology. In fact give me a classroom without technology and I'll feel like a fish out of water. This isn't because I'm a 'digital native'. I don't think I'm a digital immigrant either. Whatever I am, I started my education degree without knowing how to use Microsoft Word. I was 24 years old and couldn't format a simple document. I've spent the last three years teaching ICT and helping those that want to learn, teach through technology. I taught myself and continue to seek out new ways to engage students in learning. Every teacher should be interested in the way education is changing and want to adapt. What good is a teacher who has forgotten how to learn or worse, refuses to?

South Korea is moving towards a fully digitized curriculum by 2015. This excites and intrigues me. Not just because it's a win for 21st Century learners but because it makes me wonder about teachers in Korea. Do they have better ICT skills than teachers in my school? Do they consider themselves 'life-long learners'? Do they have a choice? And it's the final question that puts a smile on my face. Evidently, they don't. Their digital curriculum is coming whether they like it or not. And that's what I wish teachers in my school had to face. A big announcement; a definitive moment in time when 21st Century classrooms become the norm. Because most grass-root teachers just don't believe it's here already. The future is now. We will always need good educators that use effective pedagogy - of course the learning comes first. But have they considered what a classroom will look like in 10 years? In 15 years? The changes we see in our classrooms: web 2.0; 1:1; flipped classrooms; the need for students to learn digital citizenship, are here to stay.

So how do we get resistant teachers on board? Ask them five questions:

• Are you a life-long learner? (Really?)
• How do you model the qualities of a life-long learner in your classroom/staff room?
• What do you think classrooms/learning will look like in ten years?
• What are you doing today, to transform your pedagogy to suit the future?
• Can I help/show/guide you?

And if they say no, ask them again. Are you a life-long learner?

Anastasia Scott is an Australian educator with an interest in ICT, robotics and 21st Century learning. Previously an ICT teacher and mentor, Anastasia is Senior Account Manager for Intrepica, an online English literacy resource, providing professional development, mentoring and pedagogical support for teachers. Follow on Twitter @AnastasiaScott


  1. My name is Brandon Hasting, I am a student at the University of South Alabama in the class EDM 310. I am trying to become a science teacher that will use technology as help to make sure the students can learn more. I have a history degree already and I believe that there is power in a book that the internet and digital media cannot replace. I am 24 and love technology my room is always about 5 or 10 degrees higher than the rest of the house because of all my tech running. I would like to answer your questions though
    1. Yes I am always wanting to learn something new be it with technology or anything really.
    2. I am not a teacher yet but I know from many of my former teachers and professors that any teacher must be a life long learner or they will never be anything above an average teacher.
    3. I think that 95% to 98% of the class work will be done online or via some form of digital media but, I hope at least, that there will be a little use of paper and ink.
    4. I must make sure that I continue to learn how to make the best use of technology.
    5. I always need help and I will never stop needing help because there is now way that you can completely move forward in this world by yourself.