We could either move forward together with the changes, and have a say on how education progresses, or we could become like Kodak, the great film and camera company, resisting change and get left behind. Kodak used to dominate about 90% of the market. Where are they now? There was nothing wrong with Kodak's technology and is still being used today, but where are they as a company? Let's not fall into the same trap of resistance within education and lose our direction.
When the electric typewriter first came into the market place, it caused quite a stir. One would have thought that it would have improved the lives of secretaries and office workplaces dramatically. While it did help with improved productivity, some people did not want to pay the price to upgrade and couldn't see the benefits of the improvements at that time. The same response was repeated with the entry of the first computers. Business owners complained about the costs involved and it is almost difficult to believe that there was even some resistance when it has become such a necessary tool in the workplace today. There are very few people who do not use a computer or mobile phone or some kind of electronic gadget. Times have changed and we need to move with the times, rather than get left behind like Kodak did, merely as a result of our resistance to change.
Why change? Despite the many benefits that computers can provide students and teachers, including individualised learning, it will almost certainly solve 99% of all the student behavioural problems in schools, if used correctly. I speak from experience. I have never taken a class to the computer lab without having a happy and enthusiastic class of learners ready to explore, provided that every child had access to a computer or shared computer.
Does this replace the teacher and student relationships? Certainly not! It should merely enhance the practice of working together collaboratively through the facilitation of the teacher. If the teacher has prepared appropriate learning experiences for the students on the computer, then the teacher should be free to move around the class and hold meaningful, educational discussions based on the various learning goals. This also provides students with some extra quality time with their teacher, adding value to that learning relationship.
Do we have to be on the computer at all times? Of course not! There is also value in the hands-on, kinaesthetic experiences that students need to explore. It is from these valuable learning experiences of discovery and wonder that they can frame the rest of their online learning experiences upon. It provides context for their electronic world. Without real and meaningful experiences, it would all just be a bit second hand. On the other hand, if used in conjunction with these collaborative, inquiry experiences it will provide an engaging learning experience for all students, hence the improvement in student behaviour.
Students have more ownership of their learning and can have the freedom to explore their interests without being held up by the slowest student in the class. It certainly will help students with special needs and reduces any complaints of boredom. Parents can also benefit from these results at home by linking up online with the child's current learning projects from school. This partnership between home and school is also essential in the progress and motivation of the child. Everyone wants to achieve when the crowd is cheering them on!
Pedagogy is changing and that can be challenging for teachers. That does not mean to say that teachers have to swallow every ice-cream flavour of the day that gets served up for them. Teachers are professionals in their own right, and should have the freedom to choose what technology to use in the best interests of their students or even when it might be necessary to refrain from using it at all and go outside to get a bit of sunshine, fresh air and exercise!
After all, E-learning is not designed to replace the teacher, but enhance learning. Happy learners equal happy students.
Have a happy learning week together!
PS: I am wanting to work with other teachers towards providing useful online resources for educators and parents. If you would like to put a resource up on my website for others to use, or would like to get together to work on making online resources for teachers, then please email me. I would love to hear from you!