Wednesday, May 17, 2006

THE LIMITS OF TECHNOLOGY

I read a very interesting comment on the fact that technology is still very much a minority affair if we look at things on a global scale. Indeed, what use is a blog to the billions of people on the planet who have never made a phone call, let alone surfed the net ? Even in the parts of the world where life is a not a daily struggle for survival, expensive high-tech teaching techniques using PCs must seem a an irrelevent distraction from the hard job of educating people when you have minimal resources.

Two thoughts come to mind, both based on what I read in other educator's blogs. The first comes from one of the first things that Ewan McIntosh blogged about in August 2005. He mentioned the rapid decline in the number of english students studying foreign languages. The point being that even in a well-funded system with lots of high tech teaching goodies, learning can still fail to take place if other factors such as the desire or perceived need to learn are not present.

The other thought comes from the points that Cool Cat Teacher has made, that we have to use the technology/resources available. It's no use bemoaning the fact that the PCs we have are out of date or the internet connection is painfully slow (I know, I know I do it but that's different.LOL). You need to create with what you have, not what you want.

Conclusion ?

1 Learning can take place even in the most difficult situations if we use our imagination and teach with what we have to hand, be it our hands, a piece of chalk or an out-of-date PC running Windows 95. Our students can't wait for the school, educational ministry, state etc to get their act together.

2 The technology we need to totally transform a classroom is far less expensive than we might first imagine. While I'd love to teach in a school where every student has their own laptop and every classroom is connected to the internet, I don't think it's necessary. Even access to just one computer is enough to get the ball rolling. This combined with things such as mobile phones and cheap (relatively) digital cameras and mp3 players can produce great results which will enthuse your students.

3 There are limits to what technology can do even in the best teaching situations. It is a poor substitute for the passion, imagination and knowledge that good teachers bring to the classroom.


"Better good enough today than perfect tomorrow."

Or to quote the Rolling Stones;

"You can't always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you just might find,
you get what you need."

2 comments:

Vicki A. Davis said...

You are so right! I agree with you! If we keep waiting for tomorrow, our students suffer today. So many things are free and I'm doing so many exciting things with six year old computers!

teacher dude said...

I feel that we have to use what we have otherwise the students suffer. Yes, we should push for the best teaching conditions possible, but sometimes our ability to influence change is limited.