My Biggest Fears of Going Digital

Go Digital!  We are hearing the call to action everywhere.  Go one to one! Jump on the Google Drive wagon!  Take your students into the 21st century!  But wait; how do you do that?  And do I really want to switch from my proven teaching strategies to the online methods?  I'm scared.  I have some really big fears of going digital.

My biggest fears of going digital in the secondary classroom
Now let me start by saying that I'm NOT an old school, desks in rows, textbook teaching instructor.  I am an old school, interactive classroom, students working collaboratively teacher.  And I LOVED using online activities, utilizing the Internet for resources, and even allowing my students to research and review using technology.

But then we got the shiny, new Macbook Airs, and our superintendent gave an order: Go Digital! 100%. No turning back!  This is when my fears of going digital set in...

My Biggest Fears of Going Digital:
  1. Students will play and not be engaged!  This is fallacy number 1.  Students, if given the opportunity, will play with a broken pencil, a calculator, a tear in the carpet.  A laptop is no different.  That means we need engaging resources and a great classroom management plan to keep them on task and learning.
  2. Students will not collaborate.  If you go digital in the right way, you will find that students can now collaborate more and have incredible tools at their fingertips for enhancing their lessons and their products created in the application stage of learning. 
  3. Students will become dependent on technology.  This is already true.  And again, it is no different than in generations past.  I was dependent on my telephone, only it was attached to the wall with a long cord that I stretched from the kitchen into the bathroom for privacy.  Simply remind students that no addiction or dependency is a good thing.  Teach balance and teach an appreciation for learning through all methods, not just those with a keyboard.
  4. Students will not retain what they learn.  Learning requires repetition.  It's that simple.  And while the verdict is still out on the risks or benefits of learning online, we do know that learning that is done with constant reinforcement does work.  Present your content to your students in a variety of ways, use differentiated strategies to reinforce content, and assess often to check for gaps in learning.
  5. Students will no longer need me!  Now the truth comes out... This is the big fear.  What if the online resources provide all of the instruction better than I could and my students no longer need me?  But this is an unfounded fear.  I am still the teacher. I still have the content knowledge to share and I still have the skills to help them learn.  More importantly, I am the facilitator that will guide them through the lessons and help them to navigate the online world.  
Teaching in the 21st Century is not really that different than how we taught for centuries before.  We just have new tools with which we can teach. And while it does take us a bit of time to adapt to the new tools, they can open doors for our students that they would never have encountered in the past.  Now I can show them the world, one webpage at a time!   So, don't fear; Go Digital!

My biggest fears of going digital in the secondary classroom

Are you concerned about going digital in your middle or high school classroom? Consider these ideas for a smooth 1:1 transition and your students will be the ones to see the great learning benefits.

Happy Teaching!

Michele Luck

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