We have become so immersed in Technology that everyone from babies to retirees are online. My mum, who used to struggle with the most basic computer tasks (turning the computer on/off) is now addicted to her mobile and tablet devices. This phenomena will only increase as a plethora of new digital technologies emerge to disrupt traditional streams.
What this means is that Technology skills are no longer just limited to the domain of IT administrators, but in every business and industry. Some countries, like Australia, are already building Technology skills into their primary/ elementary school curriculum. Even from the perspective of a Generation Y-er, this is radical. As technologically savvy as we are, we received our education from the good ol’ textbook and pen. We had a classroom computer in primary school and maybe one shared computer at home, connected to dial-up. Our backs would ache from the heavy textbooks in our backpack.
To prepare the next gen for the digital revolution, our teachers need to set a good role model and embrace technology themselves.
1. Protecting online identities: Do teachers teach or preach?
Preaching is telling someone what to do and teaching is to share an experience. A teacher giving a lecture about online safety is even more powerful if they can back it up with their own experiences of setting up a personal brand online and protecting their own online identities.
2. Are female teachers setting good role models for girls?
I used to think technology was hard. If I told my teen self that I would be working in IT, my teen self would laugh, even though I was quite proficient with computers. When I was a little girl (around 6?), I managed to set the time on an oven, after all the adults had given up. It wasn’t because they were dull or I was bright, I was just more persistent than them.
So what happened?
In primary and secondary school, a lot of technology would fail during key presentations (VCRs, projectors, computers etc.) and if a female teacher was presenting, she would either call “one of the guys” to fix it or be taken over by one. Watching these smart, inspirational teachers get defeated by technology and needing to be rescued may have affected my own confidence in technology. Even if she tried to fix it, one of the boys would inevitably take over. He may fumble a bit but the class will wait for him to figure it out. Some female teachers would even complain that technology is just too difficult to understand. No wonder I felt that Technology was a guys domain!
3. Are teachers positively embracing digital?
There is nothing more discouraging than to hear someone of authority complain about something being too difficult or hard. Teachers may make comments like “I don’t get coding” or “I can’t keep up with the changes” on the side and not realize how these comments affect the confidence of young minds. On the flip side, imagine how inspirational it may be for young people to hear about how their legal studies teacher created his/her own crowd-funded website and blog that has 1,000 followers!