For those that have heard me speak this may be hard to believe, but one of the foundations of my beliefs is that if you can do something better without technology, don’t use technology. However, this assumption is predicated on the premis that one can effectively use technology. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier/better. Its misuse tends to drain our energy, increase our stress levels and make us work more, not less.
Look at the teaching technologies from the end of the last century – the overhead projector and the VCR. Would anyone argue that those devices were a drain on our time and energy? Sure the VCR didn’t work all the time and the bulb blew on the overhead, but those teaching tools were so integrated into daily practice that they became seamless. Could teachers have taught without them? Absolutely. But why would they? The VCR added visual learning and story telling in a much more effective, engaging and convient way than its predecessors. The overhead ment you could face the class when you taught, and save your notes for the next lesson. I have taught for quite a few years, but I have never seen a Level One overhead projector course.
When we talk about the role of technology for the 21st Century teacher, I think we often frame our questions wrong. Until technologies like interactive white boards, cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media become as seamless in the class as the overhead projector, we will continue to miss the point about teaching 21st century skills. It’s not about the technology – it’s about teaching communication, social responsibility, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration in a way that its relevant for the world of our students. And how can those skills and attitudes be relevant for them if they aren’t using the tools that are shaping their world?
Perhaps the argument shouldn’t be “if you can do something better with out technology, don’t use technology.” Instead we should probably ask ourselves “Which Century’s tools should we use?”