Author, C. Bonk in his book, The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revoluntionizing Education, credits technology as one of the most revolutionary factors in modern education. Technology, by itself, does not necessarily lead to effective teaching or student achievement. Today, technology is increasingly being integrated into classroom instruction. But does this increased integration lead to better teaching and learning in the classroom?
Consider the following:
- Good teaching demands that teachers build relationships with students and make content engaging and meaningful to them. This can be done with and/or without the use of technology.
- Technology, while an effective tool, can be improperly used, hence making it a hindrance to learning.
- Immediate access to technology can create distractions to the learning process. Students who have become accustomed to instant access to information, could struggle to problem-solve and think critically, particularly without the use of technology.
- Teachers, who struggle with using technology, may focus more on figuring out how to use it, instead of integrating it effectively into lessons.
Archambault, Wetzel, Foulger, and Williams (2010)*, assert that ‘the lack of teachers’ effective use of technology due to lack of professional development and time to practice with the tools can lead to dysfunction in the learning process’. Too often technology is pushed on teachers without proper training or support. Tools such as Interactive White Boards (IWB) become glorified chalkboards because teachers do not know how to connect the technology to best teaching practices.
As educators, we should keep in mind that technology is just another tool to support student learning and improve our classroom practices. Time tested and research based teaching practices continue to be effective in improving student achievement. Continue to engage students with academic tasks that are student centered. Provide collaborative learning opportunities that foster critical thinking and problem solving. Let us continue to facilitate learning. Give students ownership of their learning, because this allows them to make the necessary personal connections and real world applications.
Technology should be used to facilitate student learning to improve achievement. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that effective teaching is founded on correct implementation of proper pedagogy in the classroom. Our business, as educators, requires us to teach with passion and make real connections with students.
Educational systems must evolve to meet the continually changing demands that society places on the profession. We need to stay true to the roots of education, which is about empowering learners and providing them with skills.
Technology will continually advance. We must prepare students to focus on critical thinking, problem solving, and not let technology be the focus in our classrooms. Instead let technology be the conduit for creating life-long learners.
*Archambault, L., Wetzel, K., Foulger, T., & Williams, M. (2010). Professional development 2.0: Transforming teacher education pedagogy with 21 Century tools. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(1), 4-11.
Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
By Dr Thomas Gamboa
Dr Gamboa has nearly 20 years of teaching experience at all levels – from elementary to university graduate level.