The Federal Government has invested $2.4 billion on the integration of ICT into schools. This is in addition to money our education systems have invested in meeting technology demands in schools.
My colleague, Dan Haesler wrote a good opinion piece today on the role of technology and I am the first to acknowledge that technology is a powerful tool in enabling powerful pedagogies and facilitating learning and ideas among teachers.
But what I want to know is are these tools making a difference to the quality of learning and teaching? Have our students become more reflective, creative, innovative, inquisitive, empathic as a result? Are they more literate and numerate? Where is the data and importantly, what is the catalyst for re-imagining schooling – pedagogy or technology?
I came across two articles recently that reflect opposite ends of the spectrum – one in the Wall Street Journal on virtual schooling and the other in the New York Times on the Waldorf School of the Peninsula. Waldorf’s mission is to ‘awaken children to their own individuality and unfold their higher capacities of thinking, feeling and willing.’ And it’s not extended by technology but pedagogy. Teachers help develop learners, technology helps develop skills.
As Will Richardson writes:
We [teachers] have to be about the thing that technology cannot and will not be able to do, and that’s care deeply for our kids as humans, help them develop passions to learn, solve problems that are uniquely important to them, understand beauty and meaning in the world, help them play and create and apply knowledge in ways that add to the richness of life, and develop empathy and deep contextual understanding of the world. And more.
There is a lot to discern but we must be honest in asking whether the tools are supporting the learning and the teacher or whether the learning is supporting the tools. Are we really investing where it counts?