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Teaching and technology

March 6th, 2009

Can you teach/ think about knowledge/learn in a “21st Century way” without access to technology? That’s a really interesting question! (My dog liked that question too because when we were walking this morning I was so engaged in thinking about it that I was less focused on her scavenging/ bird chasing behaviours than usual).

Anyway, my initial response was of course you can teach in a 21st Century way without access to new technologies. (That’s probably not a surprising response from someone who still struggles to use the remote control for the TV!) Then I began wondering whether you can you teach in a “C20th way” without access to paper and pens which led on to thinking about how the tools available affect what you can know, how you can know it, and who can know it….which led me (somewhat reluctantly) to engage with the possibility that modern technologies might in fact be an integral part of “C21st” learning. So it seems to me that regardless of whether or not an individual uses technology, it does inevitably affect what schools are/ or should be about.

I think technology also adds to the possibility that people will be able to change their teaching to be more future-focused. Jennifer’s wonderings reminded me of 2 conversations I had earlier this week. In the first, I was talking to a colleague about a developmental theory that suggests that the ability to reflect on the limits of our knowledge doesn’t usually emerge till late adolescence. If this is so, what are the implications of this when we are talking about developing “key competencies” in younger students? The conversation went down the track of wondering whether the real benefit of the key competencies was in helping teachers to think differently about what is important in school.

The second conversation was with another colleague who was questioning whether or not self assessment was a realistic goal for young children, when in her opinion this was a skill many adults struggled with. This conversation also went down the track of wondering whether a main benefit of self assessment in classrooms could be in helping teachers to think differently about what is important in school by highlighting the possibility of engaging students more fully in their own learning

Similarly, I think technology too could help teachers think differently about what matters in education. I am new to blogging – this is a somewhat scary and alien activity for me…but my nervousness about putting out half formed ideas for anyone to read and interact with, has made me think a lot about what I value in writing for example, where those values come from, and whether or not those values are still really important for today’s world. For me trying to interact in a new virtual community, has the potential to help me see more clearly what I take for granted normally – just as going overseas can help you see what is unique about being a New Zealander more clearly than when you are at home. Perhaps this only applies to my generation – but there are currently lots of teachers who belong to the same generation!

So reluctantly I think I would now argue that the web and modern technologies are integral to C21st education. For teachers who are technologically challenged like me it could also help destabilize some beliefs that might otherwise get in the way of change. This does not mean however that I think “technology rich” schools are necessarily C21st schools.

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  1. | #1

    I think you can teach without technology as has been done for millennia. However, I think you can’t teach technology without technology and the 21st century is and will increasingly be very technology orientated.

  2. Rachel
    | #2

    Hi Ally, I’ve found a few interesting blogs out there in the blogosphere that you might find relevant/interesting to this discussion thread. Check them out here http://www.shiftingthinking.org/?p=285

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