Is the use of educational technology always a good thing?
I was doing some research into educational technology recently and I was surprised by how much debate there was about whether the use of it was a good or bad thing.
Not just surprised by the fact that there was a debate but more that those against it were not acting (or being perceived as) modern day luddites but were seemingly technology savvy people arguing that the use in classrooms needs to be approached with caution or even avoided.
The perceived benefits of the use of technology in education and the effective use of laptops, educational Apps, YouTube, students own devices, social media etc. are well known.
For me one of the greatest advantages it brings is that more technology = more equality. Good levels of digital literacy are imperative in today’s workforce. For students who have no access to computers at home the chance to learn these skills through the use technology at school means they have a better chance of success in the workforce and life in general.
My belief has been that when teachers start to use things such as iPads with their students (especially at Primary school), the risk that those students will be left behind in terms of the wider society decreases dramatically. Even if low-income students have no access to computers at home, the use of technology in school life (not just in ICT lessons!) will hopefully mean they have greater opportunities going forward.
However my research provided a counter argument for this. The extent to which schools adopt new technologies, not surprisingly, often depends on how well they’re funded and the technology gap which exists in schools today can also function as a solidifier of social inequality and that if students from low-income families are unlucky enough to attend schools which can’t provide classroom technology, the chance that they’ll find a way out of a low income life becomes less likely.
Some other concerns about the impact on student behaviour I came across include claims that digital technology shortens their attention span or that they are likely to give up when they can’t find an answer quickly. There is also a claim that technology is getting in the way of their ability to write and communicate face to face.
My personal conclusion is that the use of technology for learning is not only a good thing but fundamental to the way our young children should learn. What I realise though is that technology that for its full potential to be realised it needs to be managed properly and made accessible to all, otherwise it may become counterproductive.
Schools have done an exceptional job so far of using technology, and it’s likely that education and technology will become further intertwined as technology continues to evolve. Finding a way to effectively integrate technology is essential to helping our students continue to learn with ease, and achieve educational success.
To help with this situation OCR is giving teachers the chance to develop new educational technology (‘edtech’) to improve teaching and learning,
In partnership with www.ed-invent.com, OCR is giving teachers the chance to tap into their own skills and knowledge to identify gaps in the edtech market.
Teachers have been signing up for one of the free one-day events taking place this autumn. To find out more about this unique project developed and supported by OCR in partnership with edtech experts and to sign up for one of the regional events, visit www.ed-invent.com.
As the use of technology by students increases one possible development is the increase in MOOCs and other remote learning environment.
Self-directed learning is a natural reaction to the access to information that technology provides and although this is more common outside of school, it could also be used in a formal learning to support teaching.
Technology can lead to ‘hybrid classes’ or hybrid learning ie where half the learning takes place in the classroom and the other half is online or self-directed.
OCR has developed an online learning resource for its gcse computing qualification however this is not seen as an replacement of the teacher but something to facilitate whatever route is best for the learner – supporting those young people who want to teach themselves to code, acting as a resource for the teacher in the classroom, or for a hybrid model where classroom learning is combined with self-teaching.
So is educational technology a good or bad thing? Will we have students not needing to be in a classroom at all?
Thank you for reading – your thoughts on this and on the use of educational technology in general would be welcomed.