Someone tweeted “Good teachers don’t need technology”. Like so many on Twitter, the tweet was sent and then quickly disappeared down the timeline and yet the phrase stuck in my mind.
It stuck in my mind because basically I don’t agree with it. The sentiment may have been well meant and witty but I do not think it is correct. All teachers need technology, whether they are good teachers or not. If I were asked to define what makes a good teacher, I very much doubt that I would include in my definition the fact that they do not use technology.
For me a good teacher will know that ‘learning’ is more important than ‘teaching’. A teacher can stand in front of the class and be as animated, as enthusiastic, as engaging etc. as they like but if the learners are not learning then the teacher is wasting their time. Technology is a resource to support learning and a good teacher will welcome all such resources. A good teacher will select and match resources to fit the ability and levels of the learners. A good teacher will not reject a resource simply because it is a technology resource (though sadly a teacher may have to reject a resource if they do not have the correct technology to run the resource).
Technology is very much part of our society and, I think, of most societies in the 21st century. The levels and types of technology may vary from society to society but technology is still a part in present or future provision. A teacher who eschews all use of technology in their teaching is probably placing their teaching outside of its societal context; I’m not sure that that is a sign of a good teacher.
A corollary of ‘good teachers don’t need technology’ might be to say that only poor teachers use technology to support their teaching. That is a statement which I would find completely unsupportable and without any evidence.
For me a good teacher will make effective and extensive use of technology to support learning. A good teacher will be constantly evaluating the technology and will be seeking new ways of using technology in their teaching. A good teacher will observe how the learners use technology and will seek to harness such uses to support learning. A good teacher will recognise the uses of technology and will be prepared to make use of such technology.
A teacher in the 21st century who doesn’t feel that technology can help them in their teaching is probably not a good teacher.
Update June 2010
I haven’t moved from my last statement that a teacher who feels that technology cannot help them in their teaching is probably not a good teacher. I would now go further and say the same applies to schools; any school that feels technology cannot help in the education of their pupils is probably not a good school.
What has happened since the original post is that the Government in the UK has closed the leading educational ICT agency, Becta. This has led to a lot of uncertainty within the sector regarding the future of ICT in education and the government’s view view of the importance of educational ICT.
One aspect of the closure which seems to be overlooked, however, is that the agency was closed because of its costs and not because of any ineffectiveness or lack of relevancy. That is to say that the government closed the agency to cut down on public expenditure in this time of financial difficulty rather than because it was irrelevant.
Nevertheless, the lack of a central body monitoring, promoting or steering educational technology does raise concerns about the future developments. It would also seem to place greater emphasis upon schools and ,perhaps, individual teachers to ensure and implement educational ICT.