Article | Technology & Teachers
Yesterday, we talked of Technology Vs. Teachers. Today, we talk of Technology & Teachers.
A key idea, inherent in the title of that post was the potential of disagreement between technology and teachers. We asked if a teacher can ever be replaced by digital tools. While the answer is obvious, it does bring to fore, a few thoughts about the role of the teacher in today’s classrooms.
eVeltio (the company behind this site) conducts various workshops with teachers, and without exception, we ask this question: Can technology replace teachers? While, we usually get a resounding negative, we hardly ever get reasons for why technology can never replace teachers.
Technology is not limited to the digital tools that we use today. The humble blackboard (not the LMS) came in sometime during the 16th century. Imagine, if you were a teacher then: you are used to a method of teaching, and now, you have a surface, where you can write, draw and create a context for your students. The sixteenth century teacher must have gone through some hesitation and wonder, then.
There ought not to be a Technology Vs. Teacher debate, ever. Like the blackboard, or the compass box, or the notebook, or the calculator, no technology has been able to replace the teacher. Over time, these tools have helped teachers teach better and enable learning. Most developed countries are using technology to good effect; globalisation allows everyone in the world to adopt these practices easily. Others have to catch up, or, where necessary – leap.
The Internet and other digital technologies are mere tools, same as the humble blackboard or the notebook. However, with the kind of connective, social, and collaborative power that the tools we have today, it seems that we are asking a lot more from the teacher. We are, but, not a lot.
We offer this, to the teachers who are (1) unaware what the role of technology is, in their work, and (2) still not clear how to make technology work for them. The first step is to embrace technology, even if you do not understand much of it. It’s a tool, similar to other tools that you have been using for many years.
A simple activity in your class, like attendance, can be automated using technology. A typical class in India has an average of 40 students per class. Calling out their names, confirming their attendance, can easily be reduced through the use of technology. Could save you twelve minutes. Many such repetitive activities can be easily automated, and improve teacher engagement in the classroom.
Each time, you have to draw an x-axis and a y-axis to explain an equation, you spend time drawing it on a conventional board. What if, all the equations that you want to explain to your class are available to you on demand? Over months and years, a teacher uses the same structures to help students explain concepts. If they are created once, and can be reused, it helps increase productive time and improve engagement with students
Let’s consider a steam engine. How easy or difficult it is, to explain the working of a steam engine with static 2-d images in the textbook? Due to the proliferation of OER and other educational resources, explaining the mechanics of a steam engine has become easier than ever. We have videos, animations, cross-section simulations, and text to help us. All these resources are just tools; in learning – the engagement of the teacher with the student remain paramount.
Let’s consider the steam engine again. Your colleague, who teaches the industrial revolution experiences the same struggle that you do. Would a joint class of history and science help? Can you, with the help of these tools develop a cross-curricular session? To help enhance learning, how can you use available media to interact in the classroom?
We have, so far, talked a lot about how technology could help you in the classroom. How does it help you, as a teacher? Could you develop a PLE (Personal Learning Environment) for yourself? What are the sources of learning? How would you use social networks to connect with a global teacher audience?
Talk to us.
Have you, as a teacher, used technology as a tool and improved your performance in the classroom? We welcome ideas and would like you to share them with us. We invite you all to share experiences, contribute to our forums, and help build a community of global teachers. This network is open to all. We welcome your ideas and thoughts.