Friday, December 26, 2014

Technology Does Not Replace the Teacher

This year I'm serving as an instructional technology coach for my fellow faculty members. It has been interesting getting started on this--it's a new position at our institution, and I'm sort of making my own way. I've been working with colleagues on an as-needed basis to support online teaching, to work with how to use our CMS to support instruction, and to brainstorm ideas for other tech tools they might use to support their teaching.

While I've been met with a mostly positive response so far, and quite a bit of gratitude for my willingness to help with their concerns about teaching with technology, I've had a few interactions this fall with colleagues who seem very skeptical about the value of technology to support teaching and learning. They seem to view technology as a stumbling block, or even a negative influence in the classroom.

I think I understand where they are coming from. Teaching with technology can be daunting, and particularly if one doesn't feel personally comfortable with the technologies at hand. And even being comfortable using a particular technology does not mean one is comfortable teaching with that technology.

The hard part for me is that some educators seem to fear technology in the sense that it feel that the increasing emphasis on educational technology might imply that technology could (eventually?) replace the teacher. I find this very frustrating. As if a computer could somehow replace the nuance of a skilled, dedicated educator!

I've been thinking and thinking throughout this fall to find a way to articulate this. When we were discussing this earlier this fall, my friend and classmate, Alice Keeler, put her thoughts on this topic into words in what I think is a very helpful way:

My take on teaching and education is that it is not about the content and the facts. It is about the relationships and connections. ...This indicates to me the intense value of a teacher. The value is not in their ability to transmit facts, but in their ability to care for their learners. Good teachers can not be replaced by technology. What technology does is allow teachers to spend more time focusing on their learners and building those relationships.

And then, just today, my Twitterfriend Justin Tarte shared this graphic, which he graciously gave me permission to use here:

Image by @justintarte (used with permission)
(Thanks to @ijukes for the inspiration!)

Technology does not replace the teacher. 

Technology CANNOT replace the teacher!

However...I wonder if it's possible that thoughtfully integrating technological tools into your teaching practice may allow a good teacher to find different ways to connect with students, and--even better--find different ways of helping students engage with the content of the course?

What do you think?

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