Several posts over the past few weeks have discussed a particular problem with education systems in many countries around the world- they are slow to change. Classroom models; professional development; practice of teaching methods; understanding of modern learning theory; teamwork and collaboration; adoption of technology; etc are all lagging behind. Today, I’m going to talk a little about the adoption of technology in classrooms as a learning tool and how those who do adopt technology and innovate need to give some thought to what we are actually doing with this technology.
For those who design curriculum to include use of computers, online learning management systems, social media, Google docs, and various other devices and forms of e-learning for teaching and facilitating learning, how often are these technologies used in the course assessments we design? Remember the principles of constructive alignment: making sure that desired learning outcomes are achieved through appropriate activities designed to train the necessary skills, and that these skills are precisely measured by the assessments we design. What are we teaching, learning and assessing? If we’re going to use technology as a tool for learning, should technology be used as a tool in assessing that learning? How we learn is important, but so too is what we learn, and what we learn needs to be rooted in relevance outside the classroom.
We also need to think about whether the technology is actually helping us to learn. Does the use of e-books improve our learning better than paper books? Is the information we read on a computer screen better than that what we read in a paper book? Not if it’s a simple simulation of a book, but it could be better, and it should be better. Technology has the potential to be engaging beyond the mere novelty of the technology and automation itself, and it needs to be, because novelty wears off very quickly and technology has moved beyond simple automation. The content technology provides needs to create a deeper connected emotional response in order to improve learning outcomes. For teachers, a lack of time and training can seriously affect how we use available technology, and access to the technology in classrooms and at home is also still an issue for many.
Technology has fundamentally changed education, and the teaching profession needs to understand its role in the digital age of education and the importance of being technology and information literate. Learners with access to technology no longer need teachers for information, but more than ever they need guidance on how to learn, how to use technology to enhance that learning, and how to critically evaluate the infinite resources at their finger tips.
Anthony Salcito in the video presentation below talks about much of this, as well as the benefits of game based ‘incentivisation’ of learning as opposed to the traditional linear learning environment of ‘content, retention, assessment’. It’s worth a watch.