Recent declarations in the media by some high school principals that computers are a ‘distraction’ is unhelpful at best and shows personal preference as the default argument in this critical issue.
Attempting to divide technology use into a convenient either/or argument and blaming the machine for poor learning outcomes ignores a simple reality – change and innovation is a fact of life and schools are not immune.
I had the opportunity last week to hear Singapore’s acting education minister speaking at a conference on technology in schooling. Ng Chee Meng believes Singapore’s future success relies on the possibilities technology can bring to learning and teaching. Instead of debating whether to ban computers in schools, Singapore has been asking broader questions about what technology means for education overall and how can teachers respond to the opportunities in classroom settings.
In 2015, the OECD released a report Students, Computers and Learning. It stated that the real contributions ICT can make to learning and teaching haven’t been fully ‘realised and exploited’ yet but to deliver on the promise that technology holds requires all countries to design…..’ a convincing strategy to build teachers’ capacity’. Improving the knowledge (pedagogical and pedagogical content) base of teachers as well as their understanding of learners all takes place in the context of a technologically rich world. We can’t hermetically provision teacher learning from technology, yet we can explore ways in which technology extends teacher practice by helping to develop in students the habit and power of deeper thinking and inquiry, personal autonomy and creativity.
Intel Corp says that in 2006 there were 2 billion devices globally; 15 billion in 2015 and in 2020…..200 billion connected devices! Today’s learners already recognise the promises that technology holds – it’s up to us to deliver on the promise.