It Is What It Is

Interesting comment on YouTube Saturday. As I have heard others express similar feelings about teaching with technology, I suppose it is time to explain both the scope and purpose behind creating the "Pay Attention" video. Commented seaghan2007:

Presentations like this with their aspirational and panaceatic views of technology in education are infuriating! Any real teacher knows that learning happens in a variety of ways for different circumstances, eg Role-play around history with NO technology might be way way better than watching an exobyte of podcasts or video on the subject!! This unbalanced zealoutry is hurting those educators who are encouraging teachers to use ICT in classrooms - but in a 'real-world' warts-and-all environment.
Now here's my take as I would have expressed it if YouTube would have granted me more than 500 characters to reply.

To begin with, I am a real teacher and have taught/do teach in a 'real-world' environment. I began my teaching career in 1997. Since then, I have taught at the Middle and High School levels, in both traditional and "alternative" (at-risk) settings. Personally, I think every class could/should be labeled as "at-risk", but that is how many insisted upon categorizing my particular students. I have taught a wide range of subjects, including math, Spanish, ESL, video productions, and physical education. My students have gone on to become Olympic champions, drug dealers, movie stars, residents of the local penitentiary, successful business-persons and everything in between. Last June, I accepted a position as a "Technology Curriculum Specialist" and teachers became my students. With their needs, troubles, and fears in mind, I created "Pay Attention".

"Pay Attention" - What It Is
  • "Pay Attention" is a motivational presentation designed to encourage teachers to better integrate technology into their teaching.
"Pay Attention" - Why I Created It
  • I created "Pay Attention" because, in my experience, technology can help a teacher to provide rigorous instruction that is highly relevant to today's students.
  • I also created it because I think it is foolish for teachers to not use technology in much of their teaching (notice I did not say all of their teaching - more on that in a moment). The majority of students today already know how to use mobile phones, mp3 players, podcasting, Internet resources, and other educational technologies - why not use it to our advantage? As a teacher, I can certify that students are bringing the technologies into our schools in large quantities (you would have to be blind to not notice the plethora of mobile phones and tiny, white ear-buds dangling from our students' ears). To me, it seems foolish to refuse to use these items, beloved by our students, to accomplish educational objectives.
"Pay Attention" - What It Is Not
  • This video, like technology itself, is not a cure-all for many of the problems that currently plague education - in fact, I have never claimed technology to be the Panacea many hope it would be. Technology is great, when it works - but we would be dishonest in saying that technology doesn't also come with its own set of baggage.
  • In my humble opinion, to refer to the "Pay Attention" video "unbalanced zealotry" is simply a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. All thinkers should realize that technology is not the only tool an effective teacher has. In fact, there are times when technology is not the tool of choice. Would it be more effective for physical education students to go out and run a lap or surf the Internet for pictures of people running laps? Clearly, as a teacher that has (hopefully) learned to think, you can see that different kinds of learning activities require different tools - and just because a certain tool isn't used in every situation doesn't deprive it of any value. Because let's face it: when the job calls for a hammer, nothing less than a hammer will usually do.
Photo Credit: CraigMarston (

What are your thoughts? I certainly welcome your comments.

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