I might step on some toes with this posting. But I think it needs to be said. When teachers at any level -- elementary, secondary, college, post-graduate -- decide that they don't do technology (either because they feel they can't or because they simply won't) what does this communicate to our students?
One of Taylor University's educational goals is to help students become "lifelong learners". I would venture that most institutions of higher education have this goal stated somewhere in their literature. If we as educators steer clear of the very arena where much of the progress is being made today, i.e. technological tools, how can we claim to be models of lifelong learning?
I quote again from Will Richardson's book:
"Whereas students are open to the ways of new technologies, schools by and large are not. Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs, says, 'I make a basic distinction (one that I think is widening) between education and schooling: people, especially young people, continue to learn -- and to adopt new media -- but institutions, and those who run them, are much slower to change their ways" (Rheingold, 2004). All of this paints the picture of an educational system that is out of touch with the ways its students learn."
"The good news, however, is that the tools discussed in this book have just as much chance of closing this gap as widening it. The reason is because by their very nature, they are relatively easy for anyone ... to employ in the classroom."
Ten years ago the technology tools were admittedly difficult to use. Scanners were expensive and quirky. One had to master HTML to post content to the web. But the landscape has changed. A good scanner costs $90 and can be accessed directly from Word or PowerPoint. Content can now be easily posted to the web through tools such as Blackboard or a blog. Easy-to-use tools are readily available to facilitate classroom engagement (TurningPoint) or to help students master factual content (StudyMate) or to help students collaborate on group projects (Campus Pack Teams LX or Writely).
Yes, it takes a level of commitment to learn to use these technologies. Most of us are not "digital natives", to use the term coined by Marc Prensky. We are "digital immigrants" who, no matter how hard we work at it, will always retain something of an accent. But, in the same way that Filipinos appreciated me trying to speak to them in Tagalog, today's students will appreciate any effort we make to communicate with them using their digital tools. And in the process we will model for them what it means to be a lifelong learner.