A nation wide survey conducted last year discovered that teachers want more technology in the classroom. Access to computers seems to be high and a lot of teachers are using websites, images and other media in their daily classroom routine.
However the problem, according to the survey, is that teachers feel they don’t have access to the “right” kinds of technology. The biggest barrier to technology, unsurprisingly, was budget constraints.
Teachers have their hearts in the right place. Most teachers cite ‘motivating students’ as their reason for wanting more technology in the classroom.
What surprised me was that 943% of teachers believed that interactive whiteboards ‘enrich’ classroom education. I understand the limitations of classroom technology and also the often low levels of training teachers have in using technology in the classroom. Particularly, teachers aren’t always well versed in areas like the internet and social media. However, I cannot fathom why interactive whiteboards (a 20+ year old technology) is still desired in a classroom environment. I had access to them over 10 years ago and nobody in my school was interested in using them. Their application, quite honestly, is limited.
Overcoming budget is an understandable problem. One idea might be to apply a BYOT (bring your own technology) attitude. Allowing students to bring mobile devices to class – and use them directly for learning – will help raise motivation levels. Also, students are more likely to enjoy using computers (internet and social media) than they are using interactive whiteboards.
Teachers should start moving towards a more participatory methodology for learning. Provide students with the basic ideas or questions and let them use the resources that they’re comfortable with (online environments) and it might be surprising what they can produce.
Perhaps the problem in modern education is that we’re too focused on telling students what tools they can use to solve problems (such as learning, knowledge acquisition and skills building). Instead, let them choose their own tools. Why can’t a pyramid be modeled in Minecraft? Why can’t student presentations be done via youtube?
The best part is that teachers don’t even have to think of tools that students might choose. Students will do that! Technology? Not a problem, students will use the technology they have and whatever they’re comfortable with. Teenagers are happy to work when doing so on their own terms. Whatever students are studying, just give them core ideas and let them figure out the rest. Study after study proves that student will work when they work for themselves.
Motivation goes up. Creativity goes up. Original content and content creation goes up … all without the teacher lifting a finger.