The debate over the use of technology in education is one that surfaces from time to time. On the BBC news, only a few months ago, I came across a report on a school that was pushing the use of high tech gadgetry (an interactive learning tablet with internet access) that would mean that paper and books would hardly be used within the classroom. There was, as one would expect, fervent disapproval from particular sections, especially teachers who still believe in the unique capacity of the book to provide something more. But technology is a good thing is it not? Does it not make are lives easier? Or are we becoming overly reliant upon it? In this blog, I will be discussing these questions attempting to understand the motives behind a move toward ‘E-education’ (own emphasis)
Stephen Hoare (2007) in his article for the Guardian, titled: Please Switch on Your Mobiles, highlights how mobile phones- much maligned by teachers-could now be exploited by the very institutions that banned them. The goal is to bring forth mobile technology as a ‘learning platform’. Hoare (2007) writes that ‘the use of technology can be highly motivating, adding value and content in opening up entirely new teaching scenarios.’ The use of SMS texting as a learning tool is referenced throughout the article:
“Texting to and from students' mobile phones is the other major application for the mobile technology. A lecture theatre packed with several hundred students is an intimidating environment to ask questions, so Mount interrupts his lecture to invite students to text questions from their mobiles.”
Hoare (2007) quotes the experience of a university lecturer who feels strongly that the SMS question system ‘boosts student engagement’ and is helping students ‘overcome their shyness and reservations about asking questions.’ I question the true effectiveness of this method. To what extent are students really ‘overcoming’ their shyness? In fact, I feel that it limits the student and does not aid in the development of confidence in public speaking-an invaluable tool in life. The notions of basic human interaction are being changed by modern technology, not to say that they cannot be a useful method for learning, but I am unsure whether it can or should replace dialogic discussion.
I enjoy using technology within the classroom, but I make sure that it is engaging students in directed learning rather than acting as a distraction. I often use clips (from the internet among other media forms) and the IWB. I invite students to show confidence in their own ability and to recognise that knowledge can be attained and ascertained through varying mediums. In this sense I advocate the use of technology in the classroom; however, I also believe that students need to be reading books, writing and creating their own notes and actively engaging in verbal discussion.
The fact that we have access to a multitude of varying technology does not mean that we should become overly reliant upon it, or feel obliged to use it all the time, we must balance the use of technology to the needs and requirements of the learners and the subject matter being taught. Without proper discussion, note taking, and interactivity, the technology becomes null and void. It must be a case of using the resources in a way that is productive and conducive to real learning. PowerPoint presentations (for me) have a somewhat limited effect. When I use them it is usually only for exercises where the Interactive whiteboard can be used in conjunction. Technology should be used in the classroom but only as long as it is done with an express purpose that enhances learning.
DFES (2007) The Interactive Whiteboards, Pedagogy and Pupil Performance Evaluation: An Evaluation of the Schools Whiteboard Expansion (SWE) Project: London Challenge
Hoare, Stephen (2007) Please Switch on Your Mobiles, Guardian, 18th September 2007
About the Blogger
Asghar Hussain is an MA in Philosophy from Birkbeck, University of London and holds a PGCE from the Institute of Education, University of London. He has over 8 years experience in teaching at some of the largest, and most reputable, UK further and higher education institutions. Hussain has several scholarly publications to his credit and is currently looking into the field of social psychology and educational philosophy in relation to the current state of education. He has presented his research work at prestigious conferences in Education and is an active blogger on various forums. His research interests include: The Economics of Education, Psychology of Teaching and Learning, Designing for 21st Century Learning, Professional Development for Educators, Teaching Methodology, Philosophy and education, Evaluation of Digital and Virtual Learning Environments, Politics and education, and Creativity in Education.