For nearly forty years, the education community has been stumped by the seemingly insurmountable challenge of “getting teachers to use technology.” Generational change, ease-of-use, increasing access, and the remarkable power of computation have been no match for, “I don’t wanna.”
If one doesn’t care to differentiate between the various forms and nutritional value of “educational technology,” it might be easy to celebrate how a lethal global pandemic is “getting teachers to use technology at long last. Just don’t look too closely.
500,000 educators responded heroically to the chaos caused by COVID-19 by joining the Bitmoji Classroom Facebook group. This benefits no one. Coloring rarely results in systemic change. Such nostalgic representations of a teacher standing at the front of the classroom in front of a handwriting chart, holding an apple, with propagandistic slogans, rules, and standards on the “walls” are more than capitulation or timewasting. They are evidence of a failure to seize the moment to create modern, humane, and learner-centered educational experiences – to realize our dreams.
The bitmoji classroom is not just a way for an over-stressed teacher to blow-off steam, or a way to reduce the trauma of students being taught remotely, or communicate with parents. It is a reenactment of Our Gang’s Miss. Crabtree, a desperate self-parody, a Make Schools Great Again hat…
Worst of all, prioritizing classroom décor, real or virtual, is condescending, sexist, and an insult to the intelligence, creativity, and competence of teachers. This infantilizes teachers and resets the system to its default settings, compliance and standardization. Imagine the other things a half million teachers could be doing or learning.
Note: I could go on. There are lots of issues of effective interface design, accessibility high-quality computing experiences, democratic classrooms, and the value/harm of what teachers hang on walls, but I will save those until I am flamed for daring to question the 43 day-old bitmoji classroom tradition.
You might also be interested in yesterday’s article, Stick to Our Knitting.
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.