It seems that the world over, teachers are being blamed for the struggles schools are facing in their use technology to enhance learning . This was never clearer than this week when in the Middle East, I presented my own analysis of technology use in Australian schools and listened to the analysis of others globally (Middle East, UK, Africa, Australia, Europe and USA). I was able to see that the way we think about teachers in relation to the role of technology in education is often unrealistic. There is however a way to get out of this rut in thinking!
Below are three challenges I have identified that need to be resolved. Changing mindsets about the role of technology in learning and in education is the key to moving forward.
Challenge 1: We are spending $millions on the technology resources without a real plan. Promo materials of the latest devices are seductive and budget decisions in education are commonly made on the basis of the hype surrounding the latest products.
Challenge 2: The teacher is the key to making the most of technology, but is often forgotten. It’s well acknowledged that the ways teachers use technology is key to actually using these devices help kids learn. However teachers are generally not part of the decision making around new product purchases, policy changes or support.
Challenge 3: We’re relying on predictions about what technology can do rather than building on what it’s actually doing. There still continues to be little research actually conducted with real teachers and student in real classrooms. If research is done its with model high achieving teachers. This is important but broader understanding is needed.
The way forward…
It’s not a matter or whether we should or shouldn’t have technology in schools; the integral part technology plays in life today means that we have gone well beyond asking that question.
These challenges make it clear that we need to have a more real understanding of and approach to using technology in schools. Understanding more about how teachers teach with technology and why they make the decisions they do is a first strategy. Similarly, is understanding children’s practices with technology for learning. Research that focuses on this first hand perspective will allow less priority to be given to hype and prediction and more to realistic and empowering approaches to using technology to support learning.