Technology is by no means a panacea for all of the issues education faces …
I started this blog back in 2008 (and formally launched as EmergingEdTech in April of 2009). I've read, learned, discussed, and written a great deal about the relationship between education and technology over the years, and I'm still learning every day. While I believe that technology is having an impact and that there is still a significant upside to how technology can help improve teaching and learning, I don't think I have ever seen it as a panacea. It is a powerful, evolving tool-set with amazing possibilities, but it is by no means the be-all and end-all. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of articles, videos, and other media claiming that “technology will revolutionize education” (although a few of these, thankfully, are tongue-in-cheek). No, it really won't. Only people can revolutionize education.
Our schools have many challenges. For example, I believe we need to move away from excessive standardized testing. We need to better engage with students. We need better embrace mastery and competency based learning. From my perspective today after ten years of working with students, faculty, and administration at the college where I work, and connecting with thousands of education professionals from all over the world, a major take-away is that we need to keep moving towards student centered learning. That is a fundamental change I really want to see and any way that I can help ‘move the needle' in that direction is a good thing. Technology can certainly play a role in making that happen. That being said, there are several ‘goals' in education that technology has no business trying to accomplish.
Here are 5 *Big Ideas* that Should NOT be the Goal or Focus of Education Technology:
- Make all learning digital/online – Please … no, no, no. I detest this idea. There are so many reasons that good learning needs a social, human, interactive presence. While some online learning is a good thing, and most classrooms and courses can benefit from blended learning, all online learning would be a big mistake.
- Replacing the Teacher – Absolutely Not. Tech is a tool that should position the teacher to use their time and resources more effectively, and allow students to have improved access to learning. Having a wealth of curated knowledge at our fingertips or a well designed AI “tutor” can help to free up good teachers to use their skills to help students where they need help, in ways that only a trained and experienced educator can.
- Eliminating “school” as we know it – The idea of school becoming a totally virtual, online process abhors me. Our school systems may have a lot of challenges that we can improve on, but radically altering the fundamental nature of what school is would be overkill. Yes, making a big change such as moving towards project-based schools like High Tech High is an idea I am totally up for, but that is much less radical then doing away with brick and mortar schools entirely.
- Saving money – Yes, technology can bring efficiencies to processes and often help to save time and money, but it offers much richer possibilities. Consider online learning. Making it possible for busy, working adults to earn a degree on their own time, at their own convenience is a difference-maker. Saving money through increased efficiencies is great, but changing lives and making school a transformative experience for more students is what it should really be about.
- “Fixing” school – We've seen many industries transformed by digital technology, but education has been slow to change. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I personally believe that the human-interaction aspect of education is essential to what good education should be. Quality teaching is about relationships, trust, empowering students, modeling respect, and many other things that have nothing to do with technology. The problems we have in our school systems are often about systems, approaches, a lack of respect for students, failing to be student-centered, and other challenges that technology alone cannot address.
So what do you think? What problems should technology help to solve, and what should it not be used for?