Fear of technology holding back educators

Released 24/08/2010

Roundtable panel suggest teachers too scared to optimise technology for learners

Despite Web 2.0 applications offering new benefits to education, teachers are too scared to embrace them, according to a roundtable panel.

With young people surrounded by technology in every aspect of their lives, educators must harness the social practice of using mobiles, gaming consoles, traditional personal computers and the internet for the power of learning, said the roundtable panel, which was held in association with UKFast.

Michael Wilkinson, director of i-education, said: "People who haven't been born into this technological society have had to learn new technologies and then make application of them in the learning process. In looking at schools and universities, there is a change in management needed to demonstrate what power technology can offer.

"The teacher's role is changing and becoming more about facilitating effective learning as opposed to the transferral of knowledge."

Jon Toothill, client services director at Lightbox Education, added: "A lot of lecturers are entrenched in doing things in a certain way and don't necessarily have the confidence to try and use technology and be prepared to get it wrong. The problem is that the younger pupils are more used to it than we are."

Unlike when class sizes prohibited the levels of learning that high achievers could be given, the panel identified the endless possibilities that learning online now offered. Students can now be empowered to go out and learn on their own, drawing from a variety of new sources.

Tony Lowe, MD of Webducate, said: "One of the problems that lecturers at universities have is that they can see themselves becoming irrelevant.

"If you're a specialist in physics but in the world you are ranked 150th your students can go out and watch a video from somebody at Massachusetts Institute of Technology instead."

The panel also suggested that rather than fear this competition, teachers must educate their students how to utilise these different sources and check their reliability.

Wilkinson concluded: "What is important, particularly in the compulsory schooling system, is to up-skill today's learners in how to find resources with the right relevancy and look at its original source to ensure you have trusted information. It is about providing them with the tools to find the right information to support different aspects of learning at any given time.

"You can watch a video online but to give it context you need someone to facilitate the learning, to explain various aspects, to scaffold learning for those people who don't understand the entire topic and bring in a range of other sources and personal experiences to facilitate more effective learning."

 

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