Monday, 2 July 2012

Fear of Change in Education

A quick search on Google Images can throw light on how technology has changed our lives. (@abdulchohan, Festival of Education 2012).  Try this for yourself – search for Google Images for 19th century surgery and 21st century surgery.  In typical images of 19th century surgery you will see men in suits operating on a patient lying on what looks like the kitchen table.  In the 21st century image you will see surgeons in a clean environment surrounded by technology.  Try the same for printing, or banking to see the impact technology has had on our lives.

But when the same search is done for education, there is a difference.  Pictures of 19th century schoolrooms – of children sat at desks in rows facing the teacher – are not so dissimilar to some 21st century pictures.  There are exceptions, but it is clear that technology has not yet made an impact on all classrooms. 

In recent years the rise of the ebook and the ebook reader has been rapid.  @aydinstone points out in ‘Touching makes you feel different’ that just as the car didn’t replace the bicycle and television didn’t replace radio, then ebook readers will not replace physical books.  They will exist alongside each other, appealing to a different audience.

The shift in schools to ebooks or other digital resources has so far been slow.  Typically teachers still assign print textbooks for their courses despite the investment in digital and interactive textbooks by both traditional schoolbook publishers and new market entrants and the ever-expanding teacher generated shared resources to be found online.  Why is this?  @coolcatteacher  blogs that even schools that have computers aren’t necessarily using them for anything constructive or relevant.  What is it that makes the take-up of digital resources so slow?  Teachers are time-poor, sometimes complain of a lack of professional development around technology and some seem threatened by students that may be more technologically adept than they are.

But the fact is that none of us would be willing to go under the surgeon’s knife knowing that those operating would not be using the available technology, nor would we accept a bank with no ATMs and no instant online transactions.  Our children deserve the best opportunities that they can get from their education.  This means teachers, principals, governments and businesses taking responsibility for ensuring that technology is used effectively to enhance and improve schooling.  If professional development is the answer then let’s make it happen!  This does not mean that every lesson in every school needs to be taught online or from a digital resource.  Some journeys are still best undertaken on a bicycle!  But it does mean using the most appropriate resources for the job at hand.

Fear of change is not an excuse.

'He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.'   Harold Wilson

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