Can Educational Technology ever entirely replace actual teaching? Probably not, but that’s beside the point. What we should be striving to understand and focusing on today is not whether technology has advanced enough to replace conventional learning methodologies and even teachers, but whether the technologies at hand can complement and reinforce our existing tools and practices.
Teaching will become more efficient, measurable, and fun when technology and existing teaching methods and practices are integrated in a single approach. Picture a new era of teaching that’s decisively informed by technology but is still deeply rooted in research and proven teaching practices.
Dumbing us down or lifting us higher?
When abused, technology does not promote learning, but inhibits it. When used wisely, technology can benefit educators and students alike. Technology doesn’t dumb society down in and of itself, however. Yes, people might have every answer at their fingertips thanks to the immensely vast and chaotic Internet and its near-infinite resources, but that doesn’t mean technology doesn’t also nurture critical thinking, innovation, and imagination. Technology has a supportive role in learning. It facilitates our thinking by offering answers through computing processes and enabling us to reach conclusions faster. It doesn’t simply give us answers, but it makes the process easier.
A case for creativity
To say that technology in the classroom is dangerous and counterproductive is to lose sight of its potential to drive knowledge and learning forward.
Using technologies in the classroom – things like social media, collaborative networks, and video teleclasses – has some inherent risks, but these can be avoided and contained with proper student instruction beforehand.
Once students learn how to correctly use technologies, they have powerful tools to inspire their imagination and unleash their creativity. Technology should be viewed as the springboard for creativity and innovation. To think that technologies will make us clueless, uncritical human beings is to deny that every technological innovation from the invention of the wheel to the steam engine during the Industrial revolution contributed to our civilization’s growth, prosperity, and advancement.
Do not fear Ed Tech in the classroom
It’s understandable that even today many educators are reluctant to use technology in their teaching. They believe that their methods and practices need no updating because those methods have served them well for many years. In a sense, this is true – a good teacher does not depend on any type of technology to promote learning in the classroom.
However, considering what teachers might be missing for not making learning tech-driven is disheartening. Even if a teacher is not fond of Ed Tech practices and trends, their students already are. Students who have grown up surrounded by technology will expect to see it in the classroom as well. These “digital natives” who are growing up with a lifestyle substantially immersed in hand-held devices and Internet enabled homes find technology to be one of the most straightforward ways to communicate, learn, have fun, and live. Can teachers deprive their students of this important right, to learn and empower themselves through the means they’ve grown up learning and living with?
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