Best BITs: Culture of Fear

On July 1, Michael McLenaghan wrote:

I really enjoy the metaphor George uses about how we approach technology in our schools. If we only focus on digital safety and cyber bullying, then this only creates a culture of fear – much like a focus on preventing stabbing if we use pencils!

I’m an early adopter at my school. We use technology a lot, relying on a BYOD approach. We’ve had a few dramatic mistakes this year that were escalated into whole-division consequences. This, upon reflection, has led to a culture of fear with technology. Kids now don’t bother using tech, defaulting to paper-pencil. I discovered last week that I had a student bring an iPad to school every day but left it in his locker because he couldn’t be bothered. Yikes!!! This broke my heart!

So how can we balance safety and innovation?

There were many thoughtful responses to Michaels’ question:

  • “I know that it can’t be done by asking students to leave the technology at home. Digital Citizenship has to be taught and modeled.” ~Kristy Luker
  • “I believe that digital citizenship can not be taught in isolation. It must be integrated into projects students are already doing. Giving students opportunities to use global platforms such as blogs also allow students to see why being a positive digital citizen is so important.”~Jess Longthorne
  • “…technology’s greatest service to students is the creation of a personalized learning approach, one where students can choose which tools are best to be used for their intended purpose and audience. Technology integration is most successful when the technology itself has become a seamless invisible aspect of the learning.”~Farren Mancuso
  • “The staff component is crucial.  Unless teachers and EA’s are comfortable with even some small real estate in the tech landscape, students won’t find a tech “community”.  The push for tech has meant a few issues with access for all, while personalizing pd for staff in the area in which they would like to grow. “~Sean Kelly

I need to confess that I’m not an Innovator but I am an Early Adopter on this scale:


and because of that I tend to be really patient with the early majority but I get quite impatient with the laggards. I have been known to pull the rug out from both students and staff in order to just get them to try something out!  With Google Apps for Education, we went in whole hog and have removed all other software access (pretty much!) As the full-time teacher-librarian in a busy secondary school, we have a lot of bookings for our 5 library learning commons spaces and our 5 chromebook carts.  So we’ve gone to a Google Calendar signout and it has made everyone absolutely insane …at first.  8 weeks in they were cooing with delight….at least they weren’t complaining anymore, except for the laggards and we just did endless one-on-one sessions with them until they understood that this is the new way.

Farren Mancuso replied with:

Farren explained her choice by saying: “I found this metaphor very useful when working with teachers who were unsure, afraid, or critical of technology integration. Initially I focused the majority of my efforts on the middle car; knowing that the front car would take steps indepdently and that the third car would be inspired or encouraged by the progress of the middle car.”

How do you respond to the Michael’s question about finding balance between safety and innovation?

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