It is not about Technology. It is about Pedagogy.
In this era of rapid evolution of informational technology, new pedagogies are necessary to meet the demands of our connected world. This includes providing equal access and opportunity for students to partake, share and build knowledge in virtual spaces.
Educators are creators, facilitators, curators and collaborators of knowledge in the 21st century, and technology plays a big role in these functions. However, education is not about the technology, it is about the pedagogy. Unless we re-imagine our current school and education structures, technology-infusion will not be meaningful for our learners. If we want tech integration, we must change the way we do things. Tech does not integrate well into our factory model of schools.
21st century pedagogy should evolve as we re-imagine our schemata of how schooling should be structured. This includes how we participate in sharing, exploring, and collaborating of new knowledge networks, and of course, to meet new trends in globalization fuelled by technology.
The integration new technology into pedagogy is a skill that requires knowledge, and understanding. There is a lack of readily available research and discussion throughout our ‘Professional Learning Networks’ that touches on technology integration and the implications on Pedagogy.
This is also not an area where we can berate other educators about. Not all educators are tech-savvy. However, as educational leaders, our educators need support and facilitation to explore how technology can be incorporated into pedagogy.
Technology integration alone does not equal higher test scores and more effective learners. In fact, there are large percentages of students who are easily distracted by technology, and simply do not have the working memory to be able to process the multiple tasks co-existing at once, ie., pictures and text at the same time. This point presents very real implications to our students when we integrate the newest technologies. As educators, we do need research, training, and better practices to best educate our learners.
It is our pedagogy that needs to evolve to support technology and new ways of globally sharing, knowing and building knowledge.
In fact, technology in itself is not new. Technology has always existed. Modern technology has been around as long as people have existed, and doesn’t just refer to the 21st century.
Also, absolutely no one can deny that the newest inventions tend to engender or require the development of certain skills or attitudes. But is there anything really new? What is new is our ability to access knowledge, collaborate, and share on a global scale. We no longer need the ‘teacher’ as the ‘sage on the stage’. We have opportunities to break out of the previously built structures that bind us to when, why, what, and how we should all learn. We have opportunities to re-imagine what learning can look like, feel like, and how it can impact ourselves and others.
What opportunities lie ahead if we can embrace this kind of change!
But it is not about the ‘technology’. It will always take good educators to help learners find their own paths to learning that is important to them:
Good teachers know that abandoning good teaching practice, & allowing yourself to be distracted by technology results in poor teaching.
Good teachers also know that they do not have all the answers, and that we can use new technologies to ignite passion for learning that is personally meaningful.
It has been suggested by educators with PhD’s discussing the notions that some of our lower levels of literacy across the Western world come from educators having abandoned certain practices that promote deep learning, to experiment with new technologies. Let’s not forget that tech-integration takes a lot of time, resources, and practice.
Still, others have argued that the spell check and word processors of our modern day technology has resulted in generations of students with increased difficulties in spelling, reading, and writing, and critical thinking. If there is actually truth to any of these arguments, we as educators have much to contemplate when it comes to integrating technology.
So how do we maintain high standards of excellence, while shifting pedagogy to incorporate technology meaningfully?
Perhaps before we jump into integrating the newest technologies, and the newest ‘flavour of the month’ perhaps, we also remind ourselves of the ‘truths’ that make us good educators, and the research based art and science behind our teaching practice, and make sure that whatever tools we use in the classrooms, we do NOT abandon good pedagogy to simply use a new technology in our classrooms.
This takes training, facilitation, and new professional development strategies for teachers to be able to shift previous schemas of how learning should unravel.
Further, human challenges will always remain human challenges, will always remain human challenges. Regardless of the date and time in history humans will always have the same basic needs including needs for love, acceptance and to learn new information. New technologies do not automatically offset universals in the areas of human behaviour. We do need research and training to understand the implications of technology usage in the classroom on the nature of human beings and learning.
New technologies should not offset good pedagogy. Rather, pedagogy should evolve to incorporate meaningful ways of learning, collaborating and sharing in the 21st century.
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