Thursday, 10 May 2018

Can Mere Novelty justify the use of Ed.Tech. in Education?

OK, so you have just got a new gadget and you want to try it in class, would that really help in improving student learning? Is the novelty factor so important that you want to flaunt your use of educational technology simply to impress your students and fellow teachers, or even, perhaps teachers from other schools? The use of technology can be effective only if we have planned how to use it and have worked on the method for using it effectively. Many a time, the use of Educational Technology can be distracting and daunting for both the learners and their teachers.
Unplanned use of technology can only lead to further chaos in an educational system that is trying to deal with the disruption that has resulted from the use of the internet and internet-enabled devices. The greatest challenge for teachers and students is to be able to weed out or filter out the relevant from the irrelevant information that can only lead to frustration and confusion in the classroom! Some of us might be so excited about showing students a movie on a novel being taught in class much before the novel has been read and analysed in class with the result that what they have seen in the movie stays in their heads even if the producer has made changes in the script to suit his cast or perhaps even budget. In such a case, showing a film before the actual reading would be a recipe for disaster. Moreover, one needs to plan and decide whether to show the movie after the completion of the actual reading in one go, or perhaps in parts. Besides, one needs to ask one's self if students should do a discussion after viewing the movie and whether there might not be a need to give them a note-catcher.
Before we use educational technology, it is important to integrate the same into the lesson plan at least so that everyone is on the "same page". Well made lesson plans mention whether or not Education Technology will be used and if at all it is used, how will it be used. If students are going to use their laptops for a presentation, then even they need to plan before they actually use it. This would include distributing roles and duties. The correct method would be to identify one person who will do the research, another to compile the information into a powerpoint presentation, the remaining persons could make the actual presentation.
Before we use Educational Technology we need to ask ourselves "How" we intend to use it and what impact it would have on actual learning. With times when screen-time has become an issue, would it be advisable to expose students to more screen time in class? Would it be worth the expense to bring technology into the classroom? Would the introduction of technology result in the need to train teachers specifically to use technology and if so would it be worth it for the organisation to train teachers to use technology? Would it somehow shift the focus away from the actual Education Methods? Might not the use of Educational Technology become an end, not a means towards a greater understanding of the topic or unit? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves before deciding to use Technology in class.
The idea behind using Educational Technology should not be a recourse to shortcuts in the educational process, rather it should be about providing students with an interesting perspective on a difficult problem. Ideally, Educational Technology should bring about a "Eureka" moment for the student, and the teacher. I am talking about promoting inspired learning in an age that has become lazy; lacking in creative energy (because everything is available on the internet). Technology is not about promoting the "Copy-Paste" culture, rather it is a means to bring about a transforming learning experience, something that is to be treasured.
"Digital tools can transform, not just replicate, the teaching and learning experience"- is the title of an interesting article appearing on the edscoop website. So how would you bring about an experience that is transforming and inspiring to students? We should use technology to collaborate, research, inspire, stimulate, simulate, model, record, analyse, project, predict, diagnose, suggest alternatives, construct, deconstruct, engineer, reverse engineer, rather than just entertain, mollify, frighten, stupefy or shorten the learning experience!
For there to be an effective use of Educational Technology in the Learning Process, there needs to be a justification for its use. So if you could use technology to make the teaching of Statistical Theory or tenses and clauses more effective then surely its use is justified. If the use of technology can help students to observe and follow the dissection of a frog or a guinea pig without actually having blood on their hands, then its use is justified. The documentary film on global warming titled, "An Inconvenient Truth" is a good example of the use of technology to simulate and predict weather patterns leading to climate change and their impact on the future of the planet itself!

No comments:

Post a Comment