How to Overcome Technophobia in the Classroom?
Ben Horowitz the founder of the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm is famed for stating that software is eating the world. By this, he wanted to express how ubiquitous software is in our modern world. This is a call that governments all across the world have answered with increasing investments in IT infrastructure and computing education and training, with the goal of making sure that the younger generation is digital natives and will be skilled when they enter the future workforce.
However this overload and increasing emphasis on computing especially coding and tech subjects can be overwhelming and a big weight to bear to those who aren’t fans of the digitisation that the world is going through or take a bit longer to adapt to changes. That’s called TECHNOPHOBIA.
What is Technophobia?
Technophobia is literally a sense of irrational fear and avoidance of advanced technology such as computers, robots, AI, and automation. Technophobes criticise the modern digitalised society which the wave of automation is rapidly sweeping and are reluctant to try new emerging technologies, devices, and services.
Technophobia is not a new problem. Human history is the history of technology. Homo sapiens initially made stone knives, scrapers, harpoons, arrows, and hunting tools that required logical thought and handiness. Then, these tools were replaced with agricultural and farming tools as humans found they could produce their own foods by breeding plants and animals. The Industrial Revolution in the 18-19th century provided humans with steam engines, bringing considerable benefits to society. This glorious revolution materialised mass production, a cost decrease, and high-quality products, but at the same time, it gave rise to technophobic retrograde people – ‘Luddite.’ English textile workers in the 19th century destroyed textile machinery for fear that the new technologies would replace their job in the workplace and that the installation of new machinery would deteriorate their working conditions. Those who dislike modern technology, innovation, and science are sometimes called ‘Neo-Luddite’ today.
Technophobia among Teachers
Coding became mandatory in England in September 2014. All children at state primary and secondary schools have to learn computer science. The Department for Education set aims of the curriculum to ensure that all pupils can understand the principles of computer science, develop problem-solving skills, evaluate and apply information technology, and become creative users of ICT.
However, not all schools have easily followed the curriculum. Many teachers express their anxiety about teaching computing or introducing technologies to their classes due to their lack of experience and knowledge. Some teachers fear that technology innovation would force them to change their teaching methods, and others have no idea how they should introduce technology into the classroom. Even a large number of educators near retirement seem reluctant to commit their professional duties but focus more on their personal goals. Research shows technophobic reactions seem reduced if the ‘introducer’ of technology has a positive attitude toward technology and feels confident about their computing skills. That means developing educators’ computing skills is absolutely necessary since the teachers’ lack of knowledge could generate the next technophobic generations.
How to Overcome Technophobia in the Classroom?
Many experts indicate ignorance of technology ―how software or device works― is the main cause of technophobia. So the solution is very simple: convincing learners of benefits of learning technology and introducing innovation at a slow pace to make sure that no one is left behind. Experts also advise not to take a uniform approach to the introduction of new computing practices since learners develop intellectually and physiologically at different rates.
Some schools have long worked on this difficult problem. Jefferson City High School in Missouri, US, organises monthly tech summits to help their teachers to develop tech skills by discussing tech-related topics. The Assistant Principal says that teachers can confidently introduce technology into their classrooms based on their lesson plans. Bucknall Primary School in the UK regularly asks for a consultation on designing curriculum around technology so that the quality of courses does not depend only on teachers’ skills.
Ram Gopal Gupta, a Senior Director in the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, states “If you are technophobe, then life at work can be stressful and anxiety-driven.” Embracing new technology is not easy especially for old teachers. They may be frustrated that, though they need to ask their students to manoeuvre complex parts of technology, their digital native students can do anything on their smartphones. Technophobic teachers may need to know technology is not their “enemy” who damages their self-esteem but their “friend” who can provide them with more opportunities to enhance their life and career.