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Jul 06

It’s tough: Embrace Tech? Or recognize it’s uselessness?

Technology for a long time has been ignored by many (citing it’s cumbersome nature, or any of a myriad of other reasons).  However, many others have embraced it, only to be discouraged and dismayed by the disappointment that comes in trusting that “technology will change education”, and then 10 years later still seeing the same old pedagogical techniques being used, and in some cases, even worse learning.

According to an article on edweek.org, “until now, [predictions of technology transforming education into a more interactive and productive enterprise] have largely fallen well short of the hype.  But today, we really are on the verge of a watershed moment, when a new generation of Web-based tools could help assess the learning of each student while delivering personalized instruction that builds on specific strengths and addresses individual weaknesses.”

I used to have a strong belief that technology would change education drastically, and I still do, but I am beginning to see why the current pedagogical techniques are used: they do have value.  I always go back to a favourite quote of mine: “There are two types of fools: one says ‘this is old, therefore it is good’.  The other says ‘this is new, therefore it is better.'”  I have found myself in the latter belief a number of times, and need to realign myself with what is true and what is right.

Teaching (along with everything else in life) is all about relationships.  Not technology.  When sitting down and determining how we will use technology, there needs to be a plan that transcends the technology: a plan on how we will form relationship with the students and help them to develop understanding.  Envision what would be ideal – how would you want things done if you had infinite amounts of money, time, energy…and THEN ask what can be done (using any level of technology integration).

This takes a lot more work, but I see it very much along the same lines of Non-violent communication: NVC focusses on the idea that every feeling (negative or positive) is a response to a person’s needs either being met or unmet, and that every action (negative or positive) is an attempt to meet their needs.  When interacting with, for instance, a child, and watching them do something that will turn out badly for them, we realize that they are attempting to meet a need, and rather than just telling them “STOP IT – YOU MUST OBEY ME”, we can approach them with empathy and attempt to find a way to help them meet their need in a constructive way.  This takes a whole lot more work and energy, but, just like thinking before we grab the latest technology gadget, it will be worth more in the long run.

Keep learning!

Rob

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