When my school announced they were adopting a “bring your own device” (BYOD) scheme in which all students would bring an iPad to school to support their learning, I was terrified. Even though I had the latest mobile phone, was an everyday user of the internet and social media, I had technophobia.
Technophobia is a fear of technology. It is a condition that certainly exists in schools, often among teachers who are expected to use technology effectively in cross-curricular activities and in the new computing curriculum. While you might assume the condition is more prevalent among educators who are less “tech-savvy”, from personal experience I know that it affects those who are digitally literate too.
And with more and more technology being used in schools, technophobia is something that teachers need to overcome or risking falling behind the times – and behind their students.
Here are my tips for getting rid of the fear:
- Don’t be put off by terminology There are so many acronyms and unfamiliar words in the technological world. I found this new “language” to be overwhelming at first. However, jot words down and you’ll soon realise there aren’t as many as you think. It won’t be long before you know your “augmented reality” from your “m-learning”.
- Don’t attempt to do everything at once Try one app or website first and plan carefully how it will be used in a lesson. I started by asking my students to download an app and delivering what turned out to be a successful lesson. This gave me confidence to try more things.
- Talk about it Be honest and talk to colleagues and friends about your worries. A lot of them will be feeling the same. You can then share ideas and plan together. Ask colleagues for support − there will be teachers who have more tech experience; work with them.
- Ask for training Despite more technology being used in lessons and for administrative procedures, there is often very little training for teachers about how to use new tools. Speak to school leaders and request that they provide internal training or bring in outside support. I spoke to the deputy head who sent me on an “iPad in the classroom” training course and also arranged a visit to a nearby school, which had been running the BYOD scheme for a longer time.
- Embrace the fact that your students may know a lot more than you When thinking about which apps to use, I kept pondering: “What if my students are better than me?” Children are now so used to technology that they seem fearless about finding out new things. In lessons, I constantly hear: “Look what else this app can do!” It is key to welcome their ideas and ask them to share them with the whole class.
- Don’t use technology for the sake of it Do use it if it will have an impact on your pupils' learning. Don’t use it to look “whizzy” or because you haven’t used it much over the week.