Teachers are digikids too!

| June 16, 2010

Graham, L. (2008). Teachers are digikids too: The digital histories and digital lives of young teachers in English primary schools. Literacy, 42(1), 10-18.

Article Review

Graham (2008) explores 25 teachers’ experiences of using digital technologies in both their personal and professional lives. Informed by the contemporary “digital generation” and the purpose of knowing about young teachers’ digital worlds — their digital histories and practices and attitudes in bringing digital technologies into classroom, Graham conducted individual interviews with teachers. Graham identified emergent themes and categories from the data and grouped participants in three categories based on their digital learning experiences: the serious solitary self-taught, the serious solitary school-taught, and the playful social. Her findings indicate that teachers from the former two groups tended to use basic technological tools, such as Excel and Word, and none of them were engaged in social digital worlds such as online chatting or collaborative computer game. Also, as indicated by their childhood/teenage experiences, none of them had been interested in exploring those social digital tools. Thus, those two teacher groups are currently “forced” to move toward the world of ICT as required by their working environment, and they are not ready at all for engaging themselves with playful digital texts via social digital tools. One exceptional case was that Graham found one teacher who used to be serious solitary talked about her transition from “digital immigrant” to “digital natives”. Graham’s further investigation of the third playful social group conveyed that teachers in this group were fluent user of tools such as iPod, texting, gaming, and online chatting. However, most playful social teachers claimed that they received inadequate computer education and they learned about and attained their current digital worlds outside the classroom, and they had experienced learning in “communities of practice” (Lave & Wenger, 1991) via social digital tools. Graham proposes that it would be helpful to introduce digital literacy histories in teacher education which can let teachers consciously reflect on their digital routes as well as whether or not their routes are serious solitary or playful social.

Graham’s study contributes to a better understanding of early-career teachers’ digital experiences and how their experiences might inform future teacher development/training programs. Thus, future teachers are encouraged to not only reflect on their personal journey and teaching experience in general but also be cognizant of their own evolving digital worlds. This approach might help teachers transit from “digital immigrant” to “digital natives” and further bring a common “communities of practice” into classroom. One of the unique aspects of the study is that Graham didn’t just analyze the interview transcripts through open coding of emergent themes, instead, she considered re-grouping the participants based on their digital experiences and analyzed their experiences within each group in a more in-depth way. Such data analysis needs multiple revisits of the data so as to find the “joints” of participants’ various digital experiences.

EdLab Connection

In Graham’s (2008) study, the most “tech-savvy” group of teachers experienced “communities of practice” outside of higher education classroom during their informal digital learning experiences. Reflective teaching is an important perspective in teacher education in Teachers College. In the contemporary digital age, the notion of being reflective should go beyond reflecting on teaching practices, cultural practices, and family practices related to students: 1) teachers’ own digital experiences, where informal learning happens, may intrigue innovations in teaching; and 2) to provide teachers with web 2.0 resources and engage them in using different tools during teacher education programs may intrigue them to join the “web 2.0 ethos”. The incoming library education program might need to take such “hidden curriculum” into account. And the teaching of Pressible, Critter, etc. might need to avoid being “technical” but connect to classroom applications.