Education Technology; Teaching Tool or Learning Tool?

By: AV Hire London
Yesterday, I read this great short blog post from @kylepace entitled Good Vs Great Teachers. In the article, Kyle criticises another author who appeared to believe that educational technology was a waste of time because it would never replace good teachers. All in all I would agree very much with Kyle’s response, which is basically that good teachers embrace the technology and what it offers, to become Great teachers. I posted a tweet on Twitter, inviting my followers to take a look at the article but I also posed the question, does the article still look upon education technology as a teaching tool rather than a learning tool? The purpose of this post on my blog is to attempt to explain what I meant by that. We’ve had computers in schools for around 30 years now. I’m still surprised when I encounter a colleague who still questions whether we should have computers in schools. I remind them just how long they have been around in education and, if I’m feeling particularly narked, I ask what my colleague has been doing all this time? (I wonder why I have no friends!) As I say, we’ve had computers for around 30 years and, in that time, the nature of the technology and its uses have changed considerably. No longer is a computer a device which only one, or possibly two, people could use at a time when sat at a monitor screen. Nowadays, we can project computer images to large groups and classes via interactive whiteboards. The computer in the classroom is no longer the sole preserve of the teacher, who says who can use it and when. Now each pupil can have their own computer, on a desk, on their lap or in their pocket. Originally, pupils could engage in the learning software that their teacher presented to them. Nowadays, pupils can locate their own resources and share them with peers. They can use computers to collaborate on projects and other learning work. They can create their own materials and display or broadcast them to an audience. Their audience, or their peer group, is no longer confined to the members of their own school, year or class group, that audience is now to be found beyond school or even national boundaries. What is echoing in my mind, are the words I first heard from John Davitt, “we need to move learners from being passive consumers of technology into becoming creative users of that technology” . I feel that this shift has been happening over the years and needs to continue to progress. The technology is no longer just a tool for the teacher, it is no a tool for the learner. I sometimes find myself saying to teachers, particularly those who have some reticence or lack confidence in using ICT, that it does not matter so much how you use technology, what matters most is how you allow and enable your learners to use technology. So, for me, educational technology is a tool more for the learner than the teacher. That is not to deny the role that technology has in supporting the teacher in their work and in their approaches to learning but that it is the use of technology by the learner that is key to the future of education. For me, a good teacher is one who uses technology in their work ( see my article elsewhere on good teachers and technology), a great teacher is one who extends that to encourage, support and develop their learners’ use of technology in their learning.

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