MEC debate 1: ICT in the classroom

16-Jan-2008

Teacher-trainer/author, Lindsay Clandfield, writes:

Lindsay Clandfield

I’d like to enter this debate by making a comment and asking a couple of questions. First of all, I feel that in the past having some knowledge of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) meant that you were the person asked to come and fix the director of studies’ computer. In the present, knowledge of ICT will get you a better job. In the future, I wonder if it could mean the difference between having a job or not.

Here, then, are my questions. Firstly, what are essential technological skills for teachers to know to survive and thrive in this environment? Is it enough to know how to send emails or use a word processor? These seem pretty easy now, as does installing new software on a computer (Windows does it almost all for you!). What about setting up a wiki page for your class? Or a blog? Or downloading podcasts? What about using a virtual learning environment (like Moodle, or Blackboard)? Interactive whiteboards?

Secondly, are teachers the problem? Are we all as backward technologically as is made out sometimes? Some argue that it is not so much teachers, as lack of resources at the institution which hinder the integration of technology in the classroom. Is this the case for you? Would you like to be more blended, but just aren’t able to?

I look forward to reading your comments!

Comments(3)

  • I think Lindsay has raised a really interesting question. In my experience, teachers cover the whole spectrum, from refusing to move beyond an abacus to being up to date with all the latest Web 2.0 innovation. I think it’s very much a question of attitude; often teachers who are not technologically clued-up have no wish to be, and will resent the efforts of higher-ups to intorudce an element of computer-assisted learning into the school.

    This is in contrast to the many enthusiastic teachers I have met who are constantly on the lookout for new things to try in the classroom, whether it’s a blended learning solution or just different approaches to learning. In between lie a large number of teachers who admit they are probably behind the times and yet are surprisingly receptive to new suggestions when someone pins them down with something specific. It really does come down to attitude – the combination of open-minded teachers with determined directors and sales people often produces happy results!

    Posted by Kristin on January 21st 2008
  • My worry with the whole technology thing is that we’re getting hooked up on using things for the sake of using them. Does technology, per se, make for better teaching and learning – I think not!
    And what about all those places that don’t have technology?
    I’ve just come back from 2 weeks in Nepal working on training trainers for under resourced schools. What do these people do when they are lucky to have tapes, let alone computers, internet connections etc?
    Adrian

    Posted by Adrian on January 23rd 2008
  • It’s true that there has been a bit of a technology bandwagon that people have been jumping on. The last few years have seen an explosion of start-ups providing various kinds of educational technology, but I think the pendulum has started to swing back and a lot of the offerings that were more about bells and whistles than actual learning are feeling the backlash. People have become a lot more sceptical towards technology for its own sake now that the novelty has worn off, and the marketplace is becoming less cluttered. This is good news because we are left with less questionable content.

    I think the idea is that technology can enhance learning, for example by providing access to resources outside the classroom, or by allowing distance learning. It’s certainly not a substitute for a live teacher, nor is it a learning resource in itself. And, as you point out, it’s not appropriate for everyone: it requires infrastructure that’s not always in place. However, developing countries have been known to make great leaps in this direction with excellent results, and blended learning solutions can be of real benefits where, for example, a shortage of teachers means students simply can’t get everything they need in the classroom.

    Posted by Kristin on January 23rd 2008

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