Should teachers embrace new technology?

It all started with a rant

A recent rant by Karenne about a tweet by @billgx about distance learning, made me think a little bit about the usefulness of using technology and the extent to which technological tools can improve our teaching and learning. The rant started an online discussion about the topic. Here is the tweet in question:

I fear the push towards online is economically and not pedagogically driven. #edchatTue Aug 10 16:45:31 via SeesmicBill Genereux

Face to face or online education

Well, let me start by this: the fact that the above tweet about the “fear” of the usefulness of online education has attracted so much attention is proof that technology serves at least as a source of interesting discussion about education. This is said, I would like to add that Bill’s thoughts, however, are not totally groundless. As he himself insists on a post in his blog where he develops his thoughts, face-to-face education cannot be surpassed by online learning. Here is his point:

My experience with distance learning isn’t limited to the role of an IT manager. As a graduate student, I have completed quite a few online courses. As a student in a remote, rural area, I am thankful for having the opportunity to take online courses. I’m not sure I would have pursued a graduate education without that option. However, with only a few exceptions, the online courses I have taken have been generally inferior to face to face courses. I honestly feel like I learned less in them than I did in similar face-to-face courses.

It is true that I learned so much via the internet. It is also true that some of my students are already using and taking advantage of a whole range of web tools, web applications, online info… you name it… Yet technology will never be the sole source of learning. I learn so much from my interactions with my friends, my colleagues, strangers in the street. I even learn from other people’s facial expressions, their smiles, the expressions of their eyes, their gestures, the warmth of their voice… Online education cannot afford all this.

Technological tools, too fast…

Yes, we hardly master a technological tool that another version of it or another one is already in the market!! oufffff. Can you keep up with the pace??? You have to be both a marathon runner and sprinter at the same time 🙁 What should teachers do then to be able to follow the pace. The teachers who are themselves geeks are finding it so tiring, let alone those teachers who are reluctant to adapt to the new IT era.  How prepared are our educators? This is a legitimate question. A post by Andrew Marcinek describes this situation and suggests that teachers (and students) should be allowed to adapt to new tech at their own pace:

As a technology specialist, I want to allow teachers to move at their own pace and allow them to use whichever learning tool suits them best. To other technology specialists, I would suggest that you present these slower moving colleagues with some ideas as you move ahead at a much different pace. Don’t come at them aggressively or arrogantly, just say, “I have some ideas that may or may not help your lessons. Give them a try and if you need help, let me know.” Give a collegial nod, and walk away.

Teachers embracing new technology

Technology now is everywhere. We don’t know where it will take us as teachers, but also as citizens of the world. It will surely help us build connections and provide new information, even more, faster; it will save us a lot of time searching for what we want. We cannot and should not miss the benefits. But we must also bear in mind that human beings are born to engage in real face-to-face warm interactions. Without this very characteristic which is exclusively human, nothing can be gained!!!

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