Sunday, June 6, 2010

Technology doesn't change anything but people do

Over the years we've seen plenty of technologies that promise to change the way we learn/teach/think but have often failed to deliver, especially in education. The problem is that technology doesn't change anything unless those who use it really want to change. It's all about us genuinely wanting to change the way we work and seeing that some technologies can help us do new things in new ways. If you are perfectly content to work the way you've always worked you may see new technology as a threat and resist. When technology doesn't bring about the promised revolution there's often a backlash claiming that it was overrated though in reality we sinply didn't want it to rock the boat.

I think this is the main problem facing everyone involved in net-based education. We often enthusiastically lead people to believe that a new technology (web 2.0, social media, augmented reality etc) is going to change so much but the reality is that it won't unless people actually see the opportunities and make them happen.Teachers who are dissatisfied with the traditional view of education can make changes to their teaching by wisely using new technology. The desire for change must be there before the technology is bought in, otherwise it will probably flop.

This is taken up in an interesting new article in Campus Technology by Trent Batson called Innovation in Higher Education: It's Not the Technology. At the end of the article there's a nice summary:

"Clearly, the myth that the technology does something itself to bring about significant human change in teaching/learning/assessment practices has been “busted.” Campuses are instead accepting the obvious truth that some human change must come first, that time and human commitment to a sustainable support system must precede technology adoption, and that educators themselves must lead technology initiatives."

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