Technology v Education

It’s happening.

Despite a lack of ‘hard’ data, schools worldwide are taking delivery of iPads for the new school year. There are 1:1 initiatives, iPad carts, and all manner of charging solutions taking over school classrooms. The decision to go forward with the technology has come from school trials or administrators suggesting to schools that this is the ‘future’. Funding has been made available and revenue streams channelled to make sure schools can stay one step ahead of others.

There is a problem.

Not all educators are on board, in fact regularly you can debate at any point on twitter/social media that the new technologies do not necessarily help in the classroom. There are iPad aficionados who will preach the virtue of the iPad all the way down to those who feel they have no place in schools. The trouble is these iPads are going into schools for all staff to use with their classes. No doubt students will find little problem with the new technology,however that is not to say it will work as a tool for learning.

The educator is still the most important resource in the classroom and without these educators on board the iPad will not work as a tool for learning. I fear that there will be a battleground between those who use technology in the classroom and those who don’t. Students will walk into some classrooms expecting to use the technology because they believe it makes sense to them. This automatically creates a barrier for an educator who may not be comfortable with the technology and also may not see a use for it. We certainly don’t need another excuse for students to create problems in the classroom and no one should feel like the technology has to be used.

Having integrated iPads into my classroom for the last academic year, I’m firmly of the belief that it has its place at certain times in a lesson or indeed within a module. I have moved past the ‘iPad’ lesson that I used to think all lessons were going to be! Gone is the sentiment that because I’ve booked the computers I must use them for the full hour. However, it is a long process to get comfortable with the iPads and there is time required to let this happen. When you have some educators using it frequently and others barely at all, the behaviour management of students then comes into question. Educators should not feel forced to use the new technology just because others are.

This brings me on to professional development. I believe this is the single most important aspect for educators when introducing new technology in the classroom. If they can see how it can enhance learning and feel comfortable with the technology then they are more inclined to use it. Both of these aspects take time to come to terms with and I fear the normal school day will not afford that luxury.

I am hopeful that our planned professional development alongside iPad ‘leaders’, who will assist with the training, will help our staff. I just don’t want it to seem like a battle. It shouldn’t be technology versus education, it should be technology enhances education.

There may be nothing to worry about and indeed staff may embrace the iPad as a new way to deliver learning. I hope that the level of training is appropriate and the selected applications will stimulate interest.

I’ll let you know!

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK (stephenperse.com). Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

9 Responses to Technology v Education

  1. Tim says:

    Any advice on how to open up teachers who already have their guard up? As someone who is helping to provide this type of PD, perhaps I should just focus on the willing and hope the rest follow. Educators are a tricky bunch to teach.

    • syded says:

      The two most effective ways are to let them watch it in use in the classroom and then give 1:1 support via email and hands on. It’s very time consuming but if they are using the iPad they want instant feedback to persevere. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I really like your point about not viewing education in battle with technologym but enhancing education. Technology can be a scary thing, however we need to remember that we are all in this together.

    Tim, I wrote a blog post about inspiring change you might be interested in http://ashleyazzopardi.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/inspire-change/

    Ashley

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