Thursday, July 3, 2014

Outdated Technology and Outdated Pedagogy

Found this one via Twitter this morning (thanks, @BSGSCSFoster!) It's a gem, and well worth the eight minutes to watch it.

I laughed, but honestly, the Apple IIe from my elementary school days--clunky and odd as it looks today--stirred a passion for educational technology that brought me to the point where I'm now working towards a doctoral degree in the field.

I know that many people sing the praises of all things technological in schools, as if stirring more iPads and SMARTBoards and student blogging and mystery Skypes into the mix will automatically make teaching better, and learning better, and schools, in general, better.

I know that many people also decry technology in school, fearing that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater in our rush to replace old and "outdated" teaching methodologies, techniques, and tools with new technologies.

But I think that setting this up as a fight between technology and pedagogy is a fallacy.

It's not an either-or proposition.

While I'm a technophile, I like to think I'm a reasonable technophile. I do advocate for technology in education, I admit. But I advocate moderation! Honestly, I believe that good teaching comes first. Technology shouldn't (and truly can't) replace a great teacher. Strong pedagogy trumps high technology every time.

But does that mean we shouldn't (thoughtfully, carefully, wisely) include technology in education today?

I say no.

We need to recognize where we are and when we are. North American culture today is high tech, thrives on novelty, and emphasizes individualism.

Please hear me well: I'm not saying we need to cater to this in schools. I am saying we need to recognize the power of these cultural forces, and recognize that our students have been shaped since birth by this culture. We need to teach the students we have in our classrooms today, be responsive to them. We need to recognize that they may have proclivities to technology, and be willing to adapt our teaching accordingly.

But that does not mean we need to chuck everything we are currently doing to embrace the electric glow of the future. In fact, I think we need to be ruminate on how we can redeem educational technologies, and use them to wisely to enhance our teaching and learning. Simply having them present will not do this. But, neither will simply excluding them.

Being deliberate about incorporating technological tools when it makes sense to do so (because it will have a positive impact on your teaching or on your students' learning) seems like a wise rule of thumb to me.

Today's state-of-the-art, cutting-edge educational technology will eventually be outdated and almost seem like a joke in light of what will then be the norm. But that may be true of some of our pedagogical practices as well.

Image by Neil Turner [CC BY-SA 2.0]


  1. Yes! Please say more! I'm hoping you have a series of blogs about how to do this, it would be most helpful.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Teresa. I have a series in mind, actually... We'll see wen I have the time to craft them. :-)