Reasons Why IT May Be Crap!

driving carSo far in my post series on use of Web 2.0 with students I have discussed our preconceived notions on our digital natives ability to use technology and why some students automatic response when you start using technology, for elearning, will always be THIS IS CRAP!

Today I want to examine the reasons why the students saying THIS IS CRAP might be right! And for those waiting patiently for me to actually provide examples of how Web 2.0 is used with students I promise those posts start from tomorrow!

The biggest mistake I am seeing with educators new to e-learning is they are so focused on working out how to use the tools that they are losing focus on the outcome they want to achieve with their students.

Let me use the analogy of learning to drive a car. Reflect back to the first time you got behind the steering wheel of a car. Remember how stressed you felt? Now which pedal is the clutch again, where’s the brake gone? Oh no, I need to look in the rear mirror, the side mirror and indicate with the blinker? And if your parents were really lucky you managed, after lots of leap frogging down the road, to drive without crashing the car into anything major! We are so focused on everything we have to do to drive the car, because it is not second nature, that we find it hard to stay on the road.

Well just as your parents didn’t want you to crash the car, and made you focus on the road, you need to maintain focus on what you are trying to achieve when you use Web 2.0 with students. And when you are learning these tools it is really easy to focus way too much on learning to use the tools and not enough on how you will use them with your students.

Forget the tools, there just tools! Yes! I know it is easy for me to say! I’m experienced. But start by having a really good think about what you are trying to achieve? Write down all your thoughts. Then, and only then, think about how you are going to achieve the desired outcome and what tools are required!

To give you ideas you might want to provide your students with an ability to:

  • Practice their language skills
  • Reflect on their learning
  • Collaborative learn by working on projects together
  • Share photos or videos
  • Write and edit documents together
  • Communicate online with each other

Now once you have written down your list and if you are not sure which tool(s) will be best for using with your students then get advice. Never be frightened to ask for help. “There are no dumb questions” and “We can all learn from each other.”

Feel free to comment on my blog about what you want to achieve as I am more than happy to provide possible solutions or point you in the right direction.


Start using some of these tools for your personal learning.

No time? Well you expect your students to learn in their own time, so shouldn’t you be making time? And these tools will end up saving you time. The more you use them in your life the better you will understand how you might use them with students. Don’t feel you need to know how to use them all straight away, start off slowly, one at a time.

This Is CRAP!!!

Yesterday for my post series on use the of Web 2.0 with students I highlighted our preconceived notions on our digital natives ability to use technology. Today I want to talk about how truly totally frustrating students can be when you do use technology, and why they react this way!

As an educator we all have sessions that we spend hours preparing for only to have it all not quite go as planned, and students saying loudly THIS IS CRAP!! in simple terms all our hard work turns to SHIT. We grin, clean ourselves up, bathes our wounds and say thank goodness that is over next time I will do it differently! And when it is just one class we cope.

Unfortunately when it comes to using technology for elearning, we will often plan to use it for several classes, possibility the whole course, so it is much harder to cope with when students say THIS IS CRAP! And trust me, it does not matter what you are doing is, some will say it, and does get on your nerves.

So here are some tips from my e-learning leadership project, which help me cope when facilitating professional development, that also help me understand why some students automatic response will always be THIS IS CRAP!

Impact of Change

Whenever we ask someone to do something differently we are asking them to change, to let go of the familiar, to trust you in where you are taking them and what you are doing. The students are used to doing it one way, now you are saying lets try it another way!

GUESS WHAT–not everyone want to change! Familiar is known, comfortable and secure. Change is uncharted water; many people’s natural and rational response is resistance. Emotionally change can simultaneously bring joy and sorrow, gain and loss, satisfaction and disappointment.

Understand that when a student says THIS IS CRAP it may be their automatic response mechanism to the change, and trust me, it always seems to be the same student(s) regardless of what you are asking them to do (they do it to any change e.g. when shown another way to feed fish).

If a person is resisting change do make time to discuss their feelings as they may have very valid reasons and make the effort to learn more about the impact of change on people because it will help manage resistance to change better!

Adoption of Innovation

rodgers.JPG Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve is a model often used to explain the uptake of technology within an organisation. So people involved in facilitating professional development use it as away of identify people who are more likely to engage in the use of technology.

However I think this model is also valuable when using technology with students because this model is meant to apply to any population. In simple terms Rogers model classifies adopters of innovations into various categories, based on the idea that certain individuals are inevitably more open to adaptation than others.

A person’s innovation adoption characteristic affects the rate of uptake of an innovation over time.

Roger’s categories are:

  • Innovators (2.5 %)
  • Early Adopters (13.5 %)
  • Early Majority (34 %)
  • Late Majority (34 %)
  • Laggards (16 %)

Every population is made up of these groups so if you have a class of 20 students:

  • 3.5 students will be innovators and early adopters; they are easier to convinc e to innova te. They are typically techies and they eat, sleep, and drink tech.
  • 13 students will be mainstream adopters (early and late majority who make up 64 % of any population); are less into technology, will buy into the innovation for different reasons and need a different level of support from early adopters
  • 3.5 students will be late majority and laggards; you will struggle with students because they are skeptics or set in their way and will only embrace when the others have

Remember that different adopter groups buy into innovation for different reasons and have different expectations. What works with an early adopter does not work for the mainstream and the other way around.

So remember the innovators and early adopters will embrace the easiest but to make it work you need to get the mainstream adopters to buy in because they represent the majority.

[images from PhotoLiv, Massdistraction, Will Scotton, Striatic and Rob Gruhl]


Yes, there are a lot of other reasons why students say THIS IS CRAP these are just some of them!

Fact or Fiction? You Tell Me!

technology futurePlanning and writing a series of posts during the 31 Day Project was hard! But the pro was how incredibly rewarding it was — helped me focus, I reflected on my knowledge and research what I didn’t know! So I have decided that for me it is a practice that I want to continue. [image by Sydney]

So this week, I’m going to take a look at how Web 2.0 tools are being used in education. And just to give you food for thought – I decided to start off my first posts NOT TALKING about Web 2.0 and instead TALK about using technology with students.

Years ago, before I became involved in e-learning, when I was asked to take some of the aquaculture computing class it made me feel really stressed. WHY? Because these students had grown up with computers, they had used them all through school. SURELY they would leave me crying behind in their dust because they had to be absolute GENIUSES when it came to using computers compared to poor old me who still can’t to this day use a graphics calculator!

What I now know is our greatest misconceptions of the so-called digital natives (people who have grown up immersed with technology) or Generation Y’s (the Internet Generation) students relate to our belief that they have a high level of digitally literate and actually want to use technology.

The reality is our students are fantastic at using technology how they want to use it e.g. SMS or IM friends and are much more comfortable using it. They have no fear that the World is going to end if you press the wrong key or install the wrong program! But it DOESN’T make them they are good at using it how we NEED THEM to use it or that they want to USE IT!

And just in case you are planning to argue that technology levels are a reflection of the fact they are TAFE students (vocational education and training) Kate Foy is observing this with her University students (Fear of the tech god, My Adventure Continues or The Horses Are Drinking and How Digitally-Native are Gen-Y?)

My fears years ago had no basis — I have not yet meet a student who is better at using technology than me and this includes students that were required to use a laptop for every class. Saying all this however if you use technology effectively with your students and demonstrate the benefit to them it definitely does engage them.

I strongly recommend you listen to this interview with Becky Saunders on the use of technoloy with students. Becky facilitates instructional intelligence workshops for TAFE lecturers. In the interview she explains how we need to consider the needs and wants of our students when using any teaching strategy with students.


WHY did I want to talk about students digital literacy levels?

Because many lecturers that I interact with fear engaging with the use of technology with their student because of THEIR BELIEF that their students technology skill level has to be better than theirs. My advice don’t be frightened! Start by using the tools in your personal life or to manage your workload and as your skills increase you will soon see how it can be used with your students!

The great Digital Native/Immigrant thing debate

Since Marc Prensky’s presentation I have been involved in some interesting f2f discussions on the validity of Digital Native-Digital Immigrant ((digital immigrants = those of us who were not born into the digital world and digital natives = generation that has grown up in the digital age). Thanks Graham Wegner for your great post Digital Whatevers which has prompted me to post my thoughts.

Many of those that argue against Digital Native/Immigrant term being valid feel the same as Karyn “Why should late adopters have to start where the innovators and early adopters did? They’ll jump straight in at the point that these leaders have reached, and pretty soon be indistinguishable from them!” That an immigrant who is good at using technology is no longer an immigrant and is no different from an native.

The real issue is not about the digital natives ability to use technology but the fact that “today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from” the most of their teachers i.e. how our students learn is very different from how their teachers were taught and how their teachers learnt.

Image from Terry Wassall blog (Leedsblog Community Spaces)

I am really good at using technology (considerably better than most my students) but how my brain works, how I learn and what engages me is a World apart from my students. My use of technology has helped me relate better to how my students learn because as my digital literacy increases how my brain functions has changed (e.g. I am so used to rapid response and multitasking that I find it extremely difficult to sit and just listen to other people’s lectures as my brain can not power down). However there is still a divide between me and them. Here are some examples:

  • They are good at using technology for their intended purposes – but not always good at using it for our purposes
  • For me listening to music while working means I can not focus however for many of my students it actually helps them focus
  • I know that books in our library contain more information and will help my students complete their work much faster than using the Internet. For them – using the books is like asking them to visit Mars (actually they would not mind visiting Mars). For them getting the information from a text book is considered unengaging and too hard compared to using the Internet

I am a Digital Immigrant. I will use the term to remind myself that I do learn differently from my students and it is important to understand what engages them. My use of technology does help me relate to them better but the most important thing is make time to talk to them about what works/what doesn’t work for them and not stop asking them the questions.

Maybe Darren 5th reason Why Every Teacher Should Blog is to reduce the divide between the Digital Native-Digital Immigrant.

Innovative Solutions for Increasing Demands

This morning I struggled out of bed, got dressed and rushed out the door so that I could attend my first Hot Topic breakfast at 7.30 am by Marc Prensky on “Innovative Solutions for Increasing Demands”. No surprises – but guess who was late 🙂 – fortunately you get to eat breakfast first.

I was really excited about going to listen to Marc speak because Ray Tuckey from Great Southern TAFE bases his strategy for increasing e-learning in his College on Marc’s digital natives, digital immigrants. Ray’s philosophy is to do whatever it takes to put technology into the hands of his lecturers (e.g. give them PDA to assist with their work). By giving them tools that increase their digital literacy his goal is to decrease the divide between his lecturers (i.e. digital immigrants – those of us who were not born into the digital world) and the students (i.e. digital natives – generation that has grown up in the digital age). Ultimately help the immigrant lecturers (who speak a different language due to totally different life experiences) relate and teach the native students more effectively.

Some of the information Marc covered included:

  • He believes that the key literacy for the 21st Century is programming
  • Digital Native are use me or lose me – so we must value every employees contribution from day 1 – encourage innovation and change
  • Engage me or enrage me – I am not listening is approximately a third of our students
  • For the digital native community now is the World
  • We are experiencing an era of incredible change – technological developments are going faster