Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's been done to address the Digital Immigrant Teachers issue in schools?

In Bolstard & Gilbert's (2008) article School ICT innovations: 21st - century learning or digital busywork? Wellington Girls College, has addressed the Digital Immigrant Teacher issue by providing students with training to work with highly skilled Information Technology (IT) professionals. The students were taught how to use the software packages suitable for teachers and in return worked with individual teachers in giving them training around using the computer and software. The students were known as the Tech Angels. In some ways the students were attending the professional development workshops on behalf of their teachers, as their teachers were not at the same ability, experience and confidence level as their students.

This was seen as a win- win situation for both the students and teachers. The students' knowledge was being extended, they were taught new up to date skills and were exposed to the latest ways in using technologies and the teachers' were developing new skills in using ICT's in the classroom from their Teach Angel in an informal sort of way.

Upon reading this article, a lot of reflective questions and issues around implementing Tech Angels came out for me:

* Parents:- If you were a parent would you be happy for your daughter or son to work with IT professionals / attend professional development workshops in using ICT on behalf of their teachers?
* Shouldn't this be the teachers job?
* Shouldn't the principal / Board of Trustees be a lot more stricter and cautious around employing teachers who lack the necessary ICT skills?
* Attitude / Buy in from the teacher. Makes it very hard if you're an enthusiastic student and you're working with a teacher who has a very negative attitude towards using ICTs' and is very reluctant to use ICT. This does test out relationships between students and teachers
* Decisions:-Who makes the decision for teachers to be trained by the Tech Angel
This can create tensions if it was a mandatory decision made by the principal versus a decision made by the individual teacher
* Personality clashes between Tech Angels and Teachers-
* Time: Students could miss out on valuable learning time in other curriculum areas through training their teacher with using ICT's in the classroom
* What times of the day would the students be trained to work with the IT professionals and to work with their teacher? Would the students' get released or would work be done before / after school?
* What sacrifices would the student/s have to make?
* Payment & incentives: Students' could be easily exploited by their teachers being on call during school hours. Besides knowledge and new skills what other incentives would there be for the students?
* If the Tech Angels programme was to be implemented into High Schools, it would probably be best to train the younger students in the school e.g. Year 9 (third formers), as there would stability knowing that the student is likely to stay on for at least five years.
* Cost:- It is a big cost with investing money into students as they can leave anytime leaving their teacher Tech Angel less.
* Staff turnover-this can be an issue in all schools, but if a staff member has been trained by a Tech Angel suddenly leaves / retires then it could have been a waste of time for the student training that particular teacher?
* It could also be a waste of time for that teacher, if they are never going to use that particular software programme again?

Would be keen in getting your thoughts on this article and initiative.


Bolstad, R., & Gilbert, J. (2008). School ICT innovations: 21st - century learning or digital busywork? Computers in New Zealand Schools, 20(3), 42-51.

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