The phrase “technology in education” has always been associated with physical objects: the latest laptops or desktops, powerful tablets, or the fastest mobile phones. Even tech giants like Google equate technology outreach with raising funds to buy computers and tablets for school children in marginalized areas. While this is a reasonable aspiration, the question that needs to be asked is this: who will teach these children how to use educational technology?
Educators Need to be Trained Too
The Independent recently reported on the so-called “technology gap” and stressed that education technology is multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary. Moreover, while the physical devices are key instruments in learning, “the teacher has to be comfortable using the hardware and be supported by a principal leading information and communications technology (ICT) use across the whole school.
The content on the device needs to be curriculum-aligned, relevant, appropriate, and engaging.”
In an earlier article, Bold Business highlighted the need to make technology education culturally sensitive and relevant to the student’s environment. This is especially true in developing nations where students are faced with far more serious problems than not having new iPads. In these areas, electricity, internet connection, and sometimes even desks and chairs are more pressing issues.
Purely hardware-driven initiatives are doomed to fail if educators are not adept at – or are afraid to use — technology themselves. Ireland, for example, has been known to focus on deploying hardware in classrooms. Programs launched as early as 1997 costing the state some €550m centered on getting more computers into schools rather than continuous teacher training and content development. Overall the effort was a dismal failure.
Ireland Tackles Teachers & Technology Challenges
A new initiative was launched to turn things around, the Digital Strategy for Schools. It includes teaching teachers professional development, research, leadership, and practice as important parts of the curriculum. Hardware or equipment is just one aspect of the bigger picture.
The five-year program will last until 2020 and will adopt the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teaching. One of the goals includes providing information to teachers on how to innovatively use educational technology in their day-to-day teaching. Additionally, they will be trained on best practices in order for the technology to be transferred to fellow teachers and later on to students.
Ireland is embarking on a brave journey of looking beyond shiny devices and focusing on the heart of the matter: teachers need to embrace technology first before they can effectively teach.
After that, the next bold step is to focus on the student and ensure that he or she can truly extract the best lessons from today’s advanced technology.
Originally Published at: http://www.boldbusiness.com/digital-transformation/teaching-educational-technology/