When I talk to teachers about the ways in which technology can change your classroom, I often hear the unspoken question.
“Why should we change the way we teach just because technology has made tremendous strides over the last decade?”
Before I answer the question, I want you to imagine for a moment what your reaction would be if your doctor tells you.
“There is technology that would allow us to save your limb, but I don’t think it is necessary to change my methods just because medical technology is improving, so I am just going to amputate it.”
If it were me, I would be out the door before he has finished his sentence. So why should teaching be any different? As a teacher you want your learners to learn as much as possible and prepare them as best as you can for the world out there. And that should include harnessing the best techniques out there, whether they are new or old.
However, it is important to realise that teaching should not change just because technology is changing, that would be the tail wagging the dog. But on the other hand, we can not continue what we are doing just because we have always done it this way. Our current system has been in dire need of change for years.
Fifty to a hundred years ago all knowledge was contained in books and books were expensive and difficult to come by. In this context lecturing was the most efficient way of distributing knowledge.
In this video clip by Ken Robertson, he explains how the context of the then world influenced the design of the 20th century classroom.
But teachers have long since realised that standing in front of a class, lecturing, is no longer the most effective manner to get kids to learn, long before technology started to play a role. Many teachers have started to reject the lecture-based model in favour of learners taking an active part in their learning.
Teachers have found they achieve more if they take the role of educational guide, instead of the fountain of all knowledge. However, there were logistical difficulties that made it difficult for teachers to change their teaching model. This is where technology comes in. With the advance, especially in personal devices, for the first time in the last century teachers are in a position where they can ask themselves, “How would the kids learn this best?” and then have the tools to make that happen.
So getting back to original question, teaching does not need to change because we have some cool new tools to try or because the school management says so. Teaching has to change because the learners that leave our schools are no longer well prepared for the world they are going to face. The world has changed and so much we.