At Edtech startup pitches, you often hear the phrase “we’re disrupting education”.
But technology is not helpful when its main aim is to replace the teacher. Not only does that needlessly discard very valuable pedagogical knowledge, but students would also miss out on the special human-to-human skills teachers have when it comes to understanding them as the people behind the numbers. Crucial qualities like self-knowledge, ethics and empathy are developed by the daily teacher/pupil interactions in the classroom.
Learning is a team sport with many roles and activities, and the place of technology is to enhance and improve that experience – not replace it.
The real promise of technology in education is to improve the aspects of the learning experience where the teacher and system are struggling to deliver. Some places where the struggle is apparent include: individual assistance based on solid data, tutoring, peer support and services to help students find great resources and develop in a self-determined way.
There are many great examples of technologies which help both teachers and students get further.
Kahoot motivates and turns learning into an exciting quiz game. Labster provides students access to lab equipment and experiments they could otherwise only dream of, and now students can even begin to create their own lab equipment in the best Lego and Minecraft tradition.
Teachers are crucial for encouraging learners and developing skills like peer support and feedback. A great example of technology supporting this is Peergrade, which allows teachers to create peer assessment sessions and monitor student performance.
Better still is when technology gets deeply integrated into the pedagogy itself, as is the case with Sugata Mitra’s “School in the cloud” experiments.
This leads us to something that’s very close to my Bibblio heart – namely the importance of curiosity, exploration and self-determination in learning. Technology has practically erased the barriers to creating and distributing great learning materials, but it also has the potential to give every learner a 24/7 librarian. Imagine the opportunities that would create for discussion and sharing great resource findings between teachers and students, or among students themselves.
Learning is a team sport. Teachers and technology are on the same team, and helping them to work together we can take educational engagement and attainment to new levels.
Mads Holmen is the Founder of Bibblio