The Pencil Metaphor

The Pencil Metaphor


We’ve recently adopted a number of new strategies integrating educational technology at my school. Over the last couple of years we’ve moved from a school that had a few laptops and no projectors to a school that is almost 1:1 (and will be soon), has Apple TVs in all the rooms, and is now publishing courses on iTunes U using iBooks Author. For someone like me, this has been an intensely exciting time to be a teacher – going from our previous poor provision to the point where children are creating authentic content has been, to say the least, transformative.

But I’m aware that my excitement is not shared by everybody on the staff. Some teachers have found the technology to be an imposition – an extra bit of work on top of what they already do. Other staff claim that the pace of change is too great. Others feel that there is no benefit – to them or their students – for the technology. (I should also mention that there are lots of staff who are as energised by the change as I am).

While looking for ways to empower all staff, I came across the Pencil Metaphor, which I think is an amusing – and powerful – way of looking at technology integration. I particularly like the Hangers-On – those who nod and agree, but do nothing. I’ve reproduced the infographic below for those who haven’t heard of the metaphor.

I think it is an accurate depiction of some of the groups you encounter in technology integration work. However, I don’t think it offers any solutions. How do you change staff from erasers to part of the ‘wood’ – or even the sharp ones? What strategies are successful? I know it’s not always possible to get 100% buy in, but I think that 90% is probably reasonable.

So I thought that I would through it open to the Edutopia community – what do you do to turn people from ‘Nope, never going to happen’ to ‘I use it all the time’?