Curse of the “Tech Guy” in the Room! – 2017


photo (5)This is purely anecdotal – but it practically confirms something that I’ve thought for a long time about students and EdTech:

If students are forced to learn from each other or problem solve themselves, they will do it just fine! If there’s a knowledgeable tech person within shouting distance, their hands will shoot up, and they’ll direct their questions to him/her instead.

Today our 6th graders were creating Animoto videos – they were finding pictures, saving them, uploading them to Animoto, choosing themes, adding text and captions…they were doing it all, basically. I was not present during the first two classes, and the teacher told me that there was not a single question. Not a ONE. I was present for the third class, and the moment I walk in hands shoot up like it’s a stretching exercise in PE. And these weren’t rocket-science questions they were asking, either. I couldn’t help but think that if the student was at home making a personal Animoto for a friend, they would figure out EVERYTHING in no time on their own.

The teacher remarked to me how odd the period-long explosion of hand-raising was (considering it was her most ‘techie’ class), and she concluded that because I was there the students were asking questions they otherwise would have figured out for themselves.

And I agreed with her.

It’s a delicate balance to promote independence and yet not leave students high and dry when they ask tech questions you KNOW they could solve with a little elbow grease or with the help of another student. I usually refer the students to another student who I’ve seen master the task, or I simply ask the class who can help solve the problem. It never fails.

But overall, the “tech guy” in the room is a benefit AND a curse of EdTech. It’s a benefit to have the resource, for sure. It helps promote technology enthusiasm with the students and staff. But it’s a curse because students may subconsciously become dependent on the “tech guy.” I’m looking forward to share this anecdote with teachers who are on the fence about technology in their classrooms. It proves that a teacher doesn’t have to be a tech all-star to properly infuse EdTech into the curriculum. If anything, a tech-savvy teacher could actually perpetuate a dependence problem.

I can’t wait for  the day when a student comes to me for tech assistance, and the first thing I think is:

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