Quick and Dirty IT Guide for the Laggard Teachers

Quick and Dirty IT Guide for the Laggard Teachers

IMG_0800What a time to be alive! With technology advancing at such rapid pace, it is of little wonder of how teachers used to teach is now slowly become considered to be obsolete. Vendors and start-ups have been unleashing a torrential of solutions with the aim of capturing the entire campus of students as their primary market.

Yet, with the overwhelming force unleashed, the teacher (you) – often tasked with the responsibility of developing the holistic child – stands alone, unsure and neglected.  Teachers are looking at each other and navigating cautiously among the sea of numerous solutions…terrified to enter the dark abyss alone.

To aid the struggling one, here is a quick rundown of what’s what and to save you from looking like a lost sheep someone mentions these terms:

Interactive Websites 

An increasing number of sites are appearing with the aim of simplifying concepts for students in subjects such as Science and Maths. These websites aim at engaging the students by is usually media rich in information and resources . These may include practices, simulations, and other learning activities. Some of them can be used for simply drill-and-practice while others may be highly interactive games that force students to think.


Digital Storytelling

We know stories move people. We can tell of a simple incident how truing off the iron may end up burning our clothes to captive audience if we do it right. So what is digital story telling? It is simply the telling of a story using a variety of media that ranges from  graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing. Many of these stories vary from 2 to 10 minutes in length and its topics range from personal to history and even envisioning of the future.



E-books have now become so pervasive that you would at least encounter one before. While in the past, it used to refer to documents – it is now defined as reading any articles electronically on a screen. Apple has upped the stakes with their offerings of iBooks where one can now include media such as quizzes, movies etc while reading the book.


Online Behaviour Monitoring System

A system that help teachers to track students terms of behaviour, reports and homework,  many are aim to simplify the teacher’s workload in data collection and analysis. Some of them even track automatic detention scheduling and  rewards  system.


Do you use a smartphone? If you do, congratulations! You have used an application software! Application software is a program usually designed for the end-user to achieve a certain task such as surfing the internet or doing up a spreadsheet. Currently, it is found on two main platforms: Android and iOS. Most teachers I know shiver at the sight of the thousands of apps that are swimming out there this instant.


Interactive White Board

I’m sure you know this one. Search your school .. I’m pretty sure it’s there somewhere. An instructional tool that allows  computer images to be displayed onto a board using a digital projector, cue the “oohs” and “ahh” as students watch  the instructor manipulating the elements on the board by using his finger as a mouse, directly on the screen. Items can be dragged, clicked and copied and the lecturer can handwrite notes, which can be transformed into text and saved.


Cloud Based Response System

Designed to engage today’s mobile app generation, students are able to exchange feedback and respond in real time with teachers . It usually works in group settings where synchronous and asynchronous tests, quizzes and polls can be set. The fun kicks in when students are able to view their answers on screen and this usually opens them up to more discussion.


What are other terms you have come across that leave you swirling? Share with me!


Cognitive Bias: Biggest Obstacle to Mobile Education Conversion in Schools

Cognitive Bias: Biggest Obstacle to Mobile Education Conversion in Schools

by Alyssa Chen


For a long time, people have always talked about putting education and technology together. Whenever some new technology appears, the more fearless innovators would try their best to incorporate them with the classroom walls. And why not? With advancing technology in education offering a myriad of advantages, it may seems strange to many principals and corporations  how resistant many teachers are towards it. Doesn’t the idea of teachers using technology help to accelerate learning sounds appealing?

Not necessarily so. There have been an increasing number of articles denouncing how mobile technology worsens the education landscape recently. However, I like to offer my view what may have caused this downtrend.

It is a common story among schools and private organisations I gather during my talks from  them.  From what I observe,  I surmised that cognitive bias towards technology integration in education tend to occur – in both teachers AND students. When the top management expects immediate cultural shift towards digital learning, it is almost the beginning of the end…. before it even starts.


What is Cognitive Bias?

Cognitive bias was defined by Wilke A. and Mata R. in the “The Encyclopedia of Human Behaviour” as

Systematic error in judgment and decision-making common to all human beings which can be due to cognitive limitations, motivational factors, and/or adaptations to natural environments.

In this definition, I would not prefer to call it as a ‘systemic error’ but rather as ‘resistance’ that may cause rejection. In short, I believe that there are factors that may cause teachers to reject technology from the start. Currently, there are at least 20 types of cognitive bias that have been recognised. However, for the sake of simplicity, we will refer it to under one umbrella instead.

Cognitive bias usually occur when we consider the initial resistance of one due to past experiences or hearsay stories that may affect judgement. When this is coupled with environmental factors or poor management during a transition of one cultural shift to another, the schools would find it difficult to move beyond what they have been doing before.


How Does this affect Education Technology?

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.53.39 AMAs mentioned earlier, the extremely rapid pace of the ever-replacing technology trends will make anyone uncomfortable. Have you ever notice what happens when a school wants to make a shift towards mobile education integration? Frozen faces. Tight smiles. Eye rolls.  Thoughts such as “How about students that pass out from my hands before technology? Didn’t they do just fine? Why must we change the way we teach? Didn’t XXX school tried it the other time and it failed terribly? We are just going down the same path.”  appear.  The first obstacle has been set. 

Then, when directives for a school to incorporate mobile education are passed down, implementation is usually expected within a short time frame. Limited mass workshops and seminars are usually conducted on fixed dates and teachers are told lesson incorporation are included in the KPIs.  When such workshops are conducted, many of these teachers usually feel inadequately supported.

This lack of preparedness can be extremely disconcerting- they feel they have to be good at something to use something…and it usually cannot be achieved within a workshop or two. Many times, leaders believe in setting KPIs with these workshops to ensure that teachers apply what they learn. Unfortunately, this cause more pressure than before. This is where the second obstacle appears. 

By then, teachers would feel they have been thrown into the deep end of the pool. This increases resistance to changes and cognitive bias commences. What makes it worse is that there may be earlier initiatives that may not be implemented successfully through with both time and manpower as well as overhead costs wasted.  By then, teachers will have enough horror stories to fill a vault and may happily tell them to any new teachers who come along.




Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.53.46 AMWhen there is a lack of training , guidance and buy in from teachers – they will be confused of what to do first.

Non-tech savvy teachers tend to make rookie mistakes such as focusing on tools first rather than learning objectives as they are not familiar with the technology. In short, they will tend to focus on how the app is used instead of how it can meet the learning outcomes of the lesson. When there is poor support and infrastructure, technology becomes very overwhelming as teachers waste more time on the handling technology rather than content. This ultimately leads to a constant source of frustration.

By then, cognitive bias has already been cemented. The more negative the experiences, the more teachers are less willing to do more. When frustration reaches a peak, the teachers lapse into inertia. Many teachers would have given up on utilising technology within lessons by then.


Students are Watching

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 10.53.52 AMWhen teachers are not properly equipped with the know-how, what happens?

As our students watch the teachers struggle with technology, it results in more time wastage. Lesser time is spent on lesson content but more time is wasted on setting up of technology. What do students do in the meantime? Surf the net! Be distracted while waiting! Even if technology is not involved, students would be talking to each other anyway!

When technology is not seamlessly integrated within lessons, it is easy to see an increasing disconnect between technology and education. Most students are already proficient in social media for pleasure viewing and which they can access to anytime they want with ease. Watching their teachers struggle with technology doesn’t bring on the same sense of pleasure. In fact, it can be rather disconcerting for them instead

Lastly, since most students also associate online activities with pleasure, many naturally lack the discipline studying using online activities. In cases where technology is infused intermittently  by the now frustrated teachers, many students now see it as an obligatory means of studying when necessary rather than in a naturalised way.

So what happens when we put them together?


Thoughts? Comments? Share them with me!