Unteaching teacher-dependence

I’m a member of the Learning Times Network and get emails when someone posts to one of the discussion boards to which I subscribe. I responded to a question about teaching and learning with online tools.

When using blogs and wikis it’s important to remember that these are new tools for many of our students. If we are teaching processes, rather than tool specificity, they will be able to move easily from tool to tool. For example, I use Wikispaces – it was the first wiki I used, so it’s what I know best. However, I can figure out PBWorks or other wikis. The same goes for blogs. This is because I’ve learned the basic processes of these tools.

We cannot assume that our students know how to use these tools. When we do, we sorely underestimate the amount of time that they have to put in just to finish the activity we’ve assigned. While it is it important for them to learn the basics of the tools we’re having them use, it is even more important for them to learn how to teach themselves. We have to make sure that we’re teaching problem-solving and trouble-shooting – teaching them to click on the Help link, to search YouTube and TeacherTube for tutorials, and to ask their PLN friends.

Those of us who are experienced with online tools have to reach into our  patience box and sit back as our students (and colleagues) experiment, and sometimes fail, with the tools. I’m sure you’ve had some type of techie tell you to move over in order to “fix” your computer – of course, you haven’t a clue how it was done, so the next time it happens you have to call the techie to repeat the process. Well, let’s not do that to our students – let’s teach them the processes … no matter how long it takes … and make sure that they don’t need us to do what they can do for themselves.

Unteach their dependence and reteach independence.


2 thoughts on “Unteaching teacher-dependence

  1. Hi Cheri,

    I happened to come across your blog and really value this entry on unteaching dependency; yes, it is a challenge and a process for both teachers and students. However, like you, I strongly agree that it needs to be done so that students may gain autonomy in their learning process.

    Really appreciate your blog – thank you for sharing so much!


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