In today’s working world, quick innovation and technological advancement has flipped the traditional system of seniority on its head. Where once experience was the fasted path to respect and a promotion, now it seems to only matter if you know the newest media platform or computer code. This is especially true in our education system, where innovation has left some of our best innovators in the dust. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Georgia high school teacher Jarrod Shirley recently approached me about featuring a new project to address this issue. Soon to graduate with his master’s degree from the University of Georgia, Mr. Shirley has been working on a website that allows experienced educators to familiarize themselves with new teaching tools. They can watch videos on tools like Screencast-O-Matic and learn how to use platforms like Google Slides. Even better, the site Old Dawg New Tricks uses learning examples that compare old methods to new technology, making it accessible and effective.
Below are a few words from Mr. Shirley about the project. You can access the site at Olddawgnewtricks.weebly.com to learn more about how the Experienced can become the Innovated. Well done, sir!
I believe a generation of educators are being seen unfairly by the public, at the same time I recognize there are issues that need to be worked out but I think a bit of understanding is in order before blame is handed out to those educators in the public school system. In summary, I believe that a demographic of educators exist who happen to have been the most talented of their generation once upon a time– in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s.
Those educators were the teachers who were asked to perform the extra duties outside of the classroom because of their talents with students and the public, and they gladly accepted. Fast forward to present day and those teachers are the veterans of the industry, if you will. Much has happened since their time being the best of the best. The iPod, Social Media, Cyclical Economies, Budget Cuts, The Apple Craze, and much more. Students now a days are much different to educate than before. Couple the busy schedules with extra accumulated tasks given to those educators, with the technology boom, and God forbid a teacher’s personal life such as family, religious responsibilities, and hobbies, and we have a modern day pandemic. The once passionate teacher of the late 90s in their late 20s has sadly grown tired of trying to keep up; if they are still in the industry at all. They want to be the best again, but they also want to be at their teenagers’ ball games and graduations or date nights with their significant other. They want to be excited about teaching again, but they cannot operate the device their student now brings to school, simply because it did not exist when they were growing up. These teachers care and they want to learn– so why not go to the professional developments or do online tutorials similar to MOOCs?
More than likely, because those same teachers have already committed to being Character Leaders, Club Sponsors, Coaches, Volunteers, Committee Members, and other various roles that make their local school have a great culture and not exist as just some government building. As far as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) go, these educators, and most of everyone else working 40 hours a week plus a family, more than likely do not want to take 55 to 85 mins our of their evenings to try and understand a complicated professor teach online. With that said, this is what I have proposed to fix the problem? I believes MOOCs was a very great first step; however, I think that the need for short, simple, and direct online lessons should be implemented with this teaching generation in mind.
I designed a website using the free website creator, Weebly, that does just that. I also stated that comparative statements should be made as often as possible when teaching this generation of educators new technology. In the spirit that innovation exist to recreate or improve preexisting tools, processes, or solutions– I believe new technology can be traced back to the root of the technology it was innovated from. The original technology can be compared to in order to help this generation of educators understand it better.
For example, look at the similarities Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint have. Then consider the older teachers in public schools have more than likely been using PowerPoint for years and that a great way to convert them to an easy collaborative tool like Google Slides, is to make comparisons they will understand
More than anything, I have a passion for these educators and the students that come through their classrooms to succeed and establish a positive environment.
In closing, I believe that the success in education isn’t as complicated as studies make it; I believe that if teachers are happy and setting a positive atmosphere in their classroom, the students will naturally become engaged with the material and will not only stay in school, but take pride in their grades as well as their behavior.
Jarrod Shirley, M.A.
Proud Georgia Educator