I gave a talk a week ago at TEDx RockyView Schools, and I wanted to share it with a little bit of context for it with you. One of the biggest hesitations teachers often have when I am working with them on enhancing their practice and working with digital tools is that they are somehow losing in the process. There is an overwhelming feeling out there that the more teachers ‘put out there’ of their work and skill, the less value there is of having them in the classroom. I used to be unsure how to respond to that fear.
For a time I thought (mainly to myself) that if the world was changing in such a way that teachers could be replaced by online tools, then I would want to be aware of those tools, familiar with them, because someone has to know how to keep the ‘machine’ running. If all of us were on the ropes, I would at least be as valuable as I could by understanding the new technology. Then if the teachers were all ‘let go,’ I would possibly still have some value in the new system. It was a naïve perspective.
In doing my research for this talk, I found that I do believe that we are in the midst of a change because of technology and that we most certainly need to become familiar with technology. This is not because technology will replace us, but rather because it could replace us if we aren’t pushing our teaching practice to be as effective as possible.
Make no mistake, there are billions of dollars at work trying to figure out the ‘next way’ in education, you need only look to the United States and the various initiatives at work there to see how money and cost-saving can effect education. However, if you look to Alberta, Canada, you will also see some amazing efforts by teachers to integrate technologies both personal and publicly purchased, to change practice based on current research, and the possibilities the democratization of knowledge has brought to a modern education system. These changes have been brought about by an environment of research and study, willing to look at how to best blend the expertise of teachers with the innovation technology brings. It’s not perfect, but it does inspire hope that instead of looking to replace teachers with some learning program or hardware solution, the answer will continue to be a blended, human approach to learning.
Enjoy the talk!