Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blinded by science

There's a dangerous assumption that using more technology in education will automatically raise students' motivation to learn. If we replace the books, notepads and pencils with iPads and laptops students will somehow become more enthusiastic and committed to their studies. It's a bit like the encyclopedia salesmen of old who claimed that by buying their fine 12 volume set you would ensure your children a rosy future.

A short post by Bill Ferriter, Are Kids REALLY Motivated by Technology? includes this excellent slide that makes a point worth remembering. Technology is already taken for granted by today's pupils and students so just using the net in education isn't going to motivate them much. The real motivator is how we use the tools to create meaningful learning experiences.

I've read several articles about how the introduction of one laptop per child in various countries has not significantly improved test results. The simple introduction of shiny new devices won't change anything unless matched by a major rethink of teaching and attitudes to learning. If we continue to teach traditionally then the technology will change nothing. Similarly, even if we change the way we teach and use the technology creatively, if we continue to assess learning according to traditional criteria we won't get any useful results either. The teaching, learning, use of technology and the criteria for assessment all have to change for results to be significant.

Photo: Running Shoes by Timothy Takemoto, 
Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on April 13, 2012

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