“RE@L Thought for the Week!” Vol. 8, March 7, 2018: "Technology Will Not Replace Teachers....Teachers Who Use Technology Well Will Replace Those Who Don't!"
Recently we published a RE@L Blog that stated: “Any Teacher Afraid of Being Replaced by a Computer Should Be!” (Click on the graphic to the right for the rest of that story).
It’s a true statement, too. No computer, at least as we envision them today, will ever have the complexity of thought and action that an experienced, caring teacher does. Humans exhibit a complexity no machine can match.
That said, it’s also arguably true that computer-driven robots on an assembly line are usually cheaper and more productive than humans. The early dream of robotics was to free humans from repetitive and often exhausting work, and use their talents elsewhere.
Take our many K12 schools for example. When some of us started teaching back in the early 60′s, the only low-tech tools in the classrooms were the occasionally-used, time-honored movie projector, the filmstrip projector, the emerging overhead and colored chalk.
The computer revolution had just started in the business world and a tsunami of changes in the way we do things overflowed into the 100,000+ schools across America.
Wow! Have we come a long way, too! Computer-based this and computer-enhanced that….but we soon learned that a powerful, new tool must be in the hands of a well-trained teacher if it was going to help more kids learn more. We’re still learning that lesson, but it’s still a long way from being part and parcel of a well-tuned classroom where students are also using the new tools effectively.
We educators are finally beginning to understand that better uses of learning tools won’t happen for our kids until these tools are better understood by their teachers.
Very few teacher-training institutions are effectively teaching or modeling the many uses of these new EdTech tools. Too many higher-ed faculty spend too little time in our K12 classrooms today. They are largely unaware of what constitutes current, productive use of tech tools by teachers and students, and what is not productive.
K12 teachers are so busy trying to meet the needs of increasingly diverse students, they have little or no time to learn new skills that utilize technology properly. But not all of them! How do they do it? Read on.
We are also seeing new cadres of teachers who find ways to learn these needed, new skills. Read the caption of the graphic to the left! We see these teachers on Twitter, exchanging ideas and tips within their own #hash-marked circles. We see them too on Facebook, on Pinterest, on online Webinars asking and answering questions on what works and what doesn’t. Teachers find a way to connect and learn from each other.
Among the answers teachers share on what works are: “Put these new tech tools into the hands of small learning teams with well-defined goals and ample resources.”
Answers from good teachers on what doesn’t work are: “Drop the tech tools on the kids’ desks and run!”
Here’s one idea we need to revisit for modernizing K12: a 12-month school year with more days or half-days of staff-development opportunities interlaced between teaching and learning time. Put more responsibility for learning in the hands of the students, so that they “own” what they learn. Teachers must give their students the needed tech tools to make that happen, and show how to use them. Teachers must be leaders in finding more workable solutions!
Some one of us once said: “To remain a good teacher, you must remain a good learner.” Model that plan with your students. Become partners in learning. Develop lifelong learning goals and skills.
No computerized robot will ever surpass a teacher! Yes, those robots will get better….better-designed, better-tested, better-tweaked and better-produced by those better students you teachers taught so well how to use tech-tools wisely!
It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
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