There is an onslaught of technology on the modern classroom. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students alike are being told that technology is the whetstone with which we can all sharpen our education system. Technology can open doors, expand minds, and change the world.
That may be true, but it’s not the panacea that it’s been made out to be. As much innovation as the iPad may bring to the classroom, it’s not going to replace a teacher anytime soon. In fact, the influx of technology like iPads means there is a greater need for teachers. We need teachers who are part early adopter, part integrator, and part mad scientist. The modern teacher must be willing to take chances and able to figure out how not just how technology works, but how it works for each student, and where its use is most appropriate.
Personalized tech-infused learning is the future of education. We started Edudemic to share the best education technology resources. Now it’s no longer good enough to just share resources. So we started Modern Lessons in an effort to bring all teachers, parents, and students around the world up to speed on modern technology. It is our goal to help bring personalized tech-infused learning to classrooms around the world. Not just the ones in first world countries, but to find efficient ways to bring technology into the classrooms of every country.
There is a problem, however. When someone mentions using technology in education, the conversation shifts away from education and pedagogy, and transforms into dreams of shiny new gizmos and gadgets filling our classrooms. That’s a problem – It’s not about the technology. Rather, the sleek and ever more powerful devices that are coming down the pipeline are simply one part of a teacher’s toolkit. The technology is not the lesson, it is there to enhance the lesson.
A classroom with one iPad or one laptop for every student may offer opportunities that a classroom with one computer for the teacher to use does not. But technology in such abundance is not education’s magic bullet. Instead of having an all-technology-all-the-time classroom, teachers should leverage the technology when it can ameliorate the lesson. You can flip your classroom without relying solely on technology. Project-based learning activities don’t have to happen in totally tech driven environments.
Our classrooms are changing, and without a doubt they will look quite different in five or ten years than they do today. New technologies are being developed quickly, and with so many different trends taking hold, it is yet to be seen what will be shaken out and what will stick. Will MOOCs or a similar online learning concept start to take over? Will we have robots for teachers?
One thing we feel strongly about: teachers aren’t going anywhere. Whatever word you choose – teacher, tutor, preceptor, or something else – the role a teacher plays in the classroom is huge. Everyone knows this on a personal level, and can identify a teacher or mentor who has had influence on us or changed our trajectories in a positive way.
Teachers are not, and cannot be automatons handing out information to students. They are leaders, guides, facilitators, and mentors. They encourage students when they struggle, and inspire them to set and reach for their goals. They are role models, leading by example and giving direction when necessary. A computer can give information, but a teacher can lend a hand, or an ear, and discern what’s necessary for a student to succeed, and to want to succeed.
So yes, technology is going to play a critical role in the future of education. But not as big a role as that of a teacher.