Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop teaching the steps!

Why does so much technology training focus on the steps? I figured out a while back that one of the key pieces of technology staff development is to stop teaching applications. I'm not saying we abandon teaching the steps to make something happen. But it should not be the focus of what we are teaching.

Are teachers interested in advanced word processing skills? Are secretaries interested in databases and merges? Are students interested in spreadsheets?

Teachers are interested in created more effective digital documents. Secretaries are interested in pulling information together quickly and easily. Students are interested in how many kids like Oreos more than chocolate chip cookies. That is what we need to teach them! Identify a problem or a question for them. One they want to know the answer to. If they really want to know the answer, if teachers really want to know how to create a digital quiz, they will learn the form tools in Word. If kids really want to see which cookie is more popular, they will learn the spreadsheet. They will ask you for the steps instead of you force feeding them.

Why is it so hard, even for teachers, to realize that adults as much as students need to see meaning in what they learn?

Why the rant here... Simple. I need to get my staff developers to stop teaching just the steps to do things. They work hard. They believe in what they are doing. They see the power of what they are teaching for their students (the teachers). They need to deliver it differently when they do formal workshops.

In their day to day job, where they help teachers get things done using technology, this always happens. One on one, the teachers come to them with ideas of HOW to use technology for TEACHING and LEARNING. They don't know they need advanced Word skills to do it. They don't know they will need to use a spreadsheet, or Inspiration. But they want to. That is when they are ready for the steps. These steps may change when software or hardware changes. But once they get the concept of how they can use that type of software or hardware, it is so much easier to teach and to learn the steps!


Mrs. V. said...

It's a comfort zone thing once again- not teaching the steps. It took me a long time to let go and just say "hey, take some time to mess around with publisher today- it might come in handy sometime" But now that I do it is so cool when a kid comes up to me and says- Mrs. V, can I make a brochure about red ribbon week? My kids spend the first 4 weeks just trying to figure stuff out, and wondering why I am not telling them what to do all the time. Then they create some awesome stuff. I can do that in my classroom, but when I teach a workshop, it makes me panic to walk in without some ppt slides and a handout up my sleeve- somehow it seems adult learners need more hand holding than the kids:)
Just my take on it...

Thunder Insippo - Kim said...

I am a tech teacher in Virginia. I have a hard time getting teachers to agree to any kind of training so I provide 15 minutes on Tuesdays and call it Tech Tues. Yep, I said 15 minutes. It's only meant for an opportunity to hook the teachers into staying 45 minutes. My challenge is to present something they need, want, or think is so cool they stay a half hour past their release time. The problem is, most of them want a handout, where I lay out the STEPS to whatever I'm sharing with them. They will not take the time to understand and problem solve. It's as though they are under extreme stress and can't see past the topic if they don't have that security blanket. I often dig in my heels and refuse to provide it. Lately I've been writing the handouts and showing them where to find them and print them later. I refuse to talk about the steps, sharing only the content.