The use of technology in education seems to remain an area of contention and frustration no matter which side of the fence one sits on. If you’re pro-tech, then you risk being challenged for trying to utilise something for which the supporting data is as yet ‘inconsistent’, if you’re anti-tech, well you probably won’t see this post…that’s how it works right?
Wherever you are on the EdTech debate spectrum, what is important is that we all dig beneath irksome headlines and reasonably explore what is and is not possible.
To be overly evangelical might make the argument that
Education + Technology = Innovation in Education
without considering that there are many ways in which this may not end up being true. On the other hand, to deny that this formula might be possible is to undermine just how amazing teachers can be.
Recently an article did the rounds with the rather sensational headline of ‘Even Apple is acknowledging that the ‘iPads in education’ fad is coming to an end’ It would seem that the death-knell has rung and I may as well prepare for the imminent delivery of my P45. Well, it would if you didn’t read the actual article. The school at the heart of the headlines surveyed students and staff not just about the iPad but about the fact that they had SWITCHED from laptop to iPad. So a) there was already tech in the school and b) there is a later admission that there wasn’t much in the way of preparation for this switch within the school – so no wonder the project didn’t succeed.
Rule 1 of successful tech-integration: Prepare, train and explain why technology is coming in
Rule 2 of successful tech-integration: Use what works for your school, not what the headlines tell you should work.
If the school in question was making good use of laptops, it’s hard to understand why they would switch device.
Other examples in the article include a project that was abandoned because of ‘technical glitches’. This is nothing to do with the device, but the failure to PREPARE for it. This does not happen when the school(s) integrate over time and develop their use of technology at a pace that suits them and the technical capability of their support team(s).
So as ever, sensational headlines tell half (at best) of the story and what we are left with are polarised views about yet another aspect of education.
Of course it’s not surprising that education is a sector full of diverse and oppositional views, because it is filled with intelligent, passionate and diverse people.
These PEOPLE are what can make
Education + Technology = Innovation in Education a reality.
Equally, they can choose not to.
If teachers are shown the right tools, at the right time in the right way, they will show you things you never thought of and make a significant contribution to the successful use of technology in education that directly and positively impacts upon the students.
I have watched lessons where an Italian class comes face-to-face with students from Italy without leaving their UK classroom, giving them unparalleled real-world access to the language they are trying to learn, and others where students have been able to record and then replay in slow-motion a chemical reaction they might have only understood in theory without. These examples are just a few of many that sit alongside the endless fantastic lessons that don’t use technology.
Innovation – true change and new ideas are hard to come by and don’t happen every day, but what technology offers, is an opportunity for innovation, and an opportunity that evolves and changes often, making it all the more exciting.
The results of innovation can often be accidental. The choice to innovate, is a conscious one.