Myth 2 – We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient
We continue our myth series that explores dangerous education technology myths. You can read Myth 1 here. Each of these myths are commonly held beliefs that have huge implications on how we approach teaching with technology.
Like all myths, this myth also seems, on face value, to be both true and innocuous. However, this is exactly why the myth is so dangerous.
I often come across teachers and school management who extol the benefits of their edtech tools using words like - “Time is freed up”, “convenience”, “ease of handling”, “efficient way of collecting and storing information” and “immediate access”.
In fact, these are the same benefits you will find touted by LMS vendors. Take a look at the following list of features of the popular LMS, Blackboard. The vast majority of the features are around management and efficiencies.
These "features" point to an underlying perspective that many teachers and software vendors have about the goal of technology in the classroom - improving efficiency. In fact this same perspective also pervades students' perceptions. A research project just completed by one of my students, found that 92% of students listed technology providing “improved access to information” as a key reason for using it for learning.
And so it is no surprise that we readily believe the statement - We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient. After all, who doesn't want to save time and make things more efficient?
Ditching Industrial Era Objectives
Efficiencies are great for business and industry, but is this what we are seeking when it comes to education? British educationist and author Sir Ken Robinson has famously called on schools to abandon the efficiency-driven, industrial paradigm and move to a new approach to education.
Increasingly we are seeing teachers advocating a new era in education that celebrates diversity, opportunities and innovation. However, most of us are simply using technology to reinforce the old industrial approaches rather than revolutionising the classroom.
Pursuing efficiencies to get students through more content, faster and with less effort, is the wrong objective. Our focus should be on effective rather than efficient teaching. Technology is not just about computerising existing processes – it is about rethinking ways to teach and learn.
The Danger of the Myth
By pursuing efficiency objectives we simply reinforce our old, outdated, industrial approaches to teaching. We are simply attempting to speed up and automate these old processes. This dangerous agenda is pushed by many vendors because it makes for a good sell. "We can make your job easier", "We can save you time", etc. However, education is more than this. It needs us to reinvent, redesign, and reimagine how we are teaching the modern generation.
Technology brings with it many exciting opportunities. The most successful modern businesses, who are driven by efficiency agendas, have also realised this. They've realised the need to move beyond simple efficiencies to reinventing how they do business. This has given rise to innovative businesses like Uber who have disrupted the transport industry, Twitter who have disrupted the news industry, and Whatsapp who have disrupted the communication industry.
It is only when we begin to let go of our outdated, industrial paradigms and see technology, not simply as a tool for improving efficiencies, but as a tool to open up new way of teaching and learning, that we will truly begin to realise the benefits of technology in the classroom. It's then that we will start to see the Uber Classrooms appear - and that will be very exciting.
Dr. Craig Blewett is the author and founder of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach. He helps schools and universities around the world towards the effective use of educational technology.
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