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It’s not the technology’s fault!

<Warning: This post is a bit of a rant…>

It is not the technology’s fault. The technology did not create cyber-criminals. Technology did not create bullies. Technology did not create pornography. Technology did not ruin education.

We live in the 21st century. It is an age of technology. We have TVs, computers, gaming consoles, PDAs, netbooks, tablets, iPads, iPods, mobile phones, smartphones, GPS, Internet, Wi-Fi and more. Yet I keep hearing from some people that technology is bad for education!

What??? Give me a break!

The technology did not just jump into an educator’s hand and say ‘use me, use me!’ The educator saw a device and chose to give it a go to help educate.

Technology is not bad for education… Poor use of technology is bad for education. Poorly designed learning tasks using technology is bad for education.

For example, you cannot just say, ‘I’m going to get my class to blog’. You need to plan it. You need to decide why you want your class to blog; what they are going to blog about; what the purpose of the task is. You then need to learn how to blog yourself. You may learn this alongside your students, but I would suggest that if you want your class to blog, then perhaps you should be blogging too. It would be good to at least know the basics of blogging first – how to set up a blog; how to write a blog post; choosing appropriate tags etc.

Keeping with the blog idea, how useful would a blog be for students who struggle to write, or perhaps cannot write using a pen/pencil? These students may thrive in front of a netbook, where they can control what is being put on the screen. They can see and edit easily without the need to mess up their work or feeling embarrassed as they need to start again.

How many jobs now require the use of technology? Computers, mobile phones etc. My guess (and it is just a guess) is probably about 95% of them. Yet we have people against using technology to educate our students?

I’ll be the first to say that technology is not the be all and end all of education. A good teacher can out-do technology any day. But I would argue that a good teacher should also now be trying to embrace technology, and encourage its use within the classroom. Teach students how to use it wisely. Demonstrate how to interact in a socially acceptable way over the internet. Help them to critically analyse information they have found to see if it is authoritative and useful.

If teachers don’t embrace technology, who is going to teach students about cyber-safety? Who will teach them to conduct themselves appropriately as well-rounded citizens of the 21st century?

Education has focused in the past on reading, writing and arithmetic. It still is now. Is this a bad thing? No. We still need students to be literate and numerate. But this is not just about pen and paper any more. It is about digital literacy. Being able to use the tools that we have to solve complex problems. We have to make sure our students are ready for this.

School leaders and Boards of Trustees need to embrace this. They need to encourage the use of technology in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be for everything! But the reality is that we live in a technological age, where more and more advanced technology is being developed daily. We have to prepare our students for life in this age!

3 thoughts on “It’s not the technology’s fault!

  1. Thank you for your rant. We need more like this! Yes you have put it all quite succinctly. In fact I would like to ask you could we even say that educators are being negligent if they aren’t promoting, teaching and role modelling good e-learning behaviour? After all you don’t take your car for a service to a mechanic who can’t service brakes! Hmm, not really the same but do you get my drift?

    1. Hi Sandy, thanks for your comment. I do agree with you that educators may be being negligent if they are not role modelling using technology. The safe and effective use of technology perhaps could be seen as one of the ‘values’ that teachers are supposed to promote. I know that the same values should be underpinning all of life both online and offline, however if we don’t model good behaviour and values online, then how to students learn to safety? Online is often seen as anonymous to a user however this is often not the case and children/teenagers are very vulnerable because of this. Perhaps there should be cybersafety courses taught as part of a national curriculum?

  2. Couldn’t have said it any better…as with everything…it’s about balance and we cannot just make everything “off-limits” because there is some elements that can be abused. We have to manage the classroom…and yes, that means a bit more managing with the integration of technology, but it can be done and how wonderful to reach students that were lost in the “traditional” lecture and learn environment.

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