Another unconvenient truth for teachers

Great technology and computers alone cannot substitute poor teaching: This conclusion taken from the latest OECD report on the role of technology in the classroom is a very unconvenient truth, especially for someone that writes periodically on the subject…

“There is no substitute for teachers” is a widely agreed “truth”; the fact there is no substitute even for bad teachers is another “truth” in most of our schools. And there will also be an agreement on the fact that technology alone can’t improve bad teaching.

Remediating bad teaching is therefore a key issue for the future of our school systems. How would you define bad teaching? There is no common definition and it will vary when you ask students, fellow teachers or parents. What an education inspector will define as bad teaching may distort the reality as the focus may be put only on curriculum instructions compliance.

Bad teaching may be not taking into account students’ diversity, not paying attention to students’ skills even if they can’t be evaluated in an academic way. Bad teaching may be a boring teaching. In one of my blog entries, I even mentioned a study  that shows that brain activity in class was less than brain activity during sleep (see below)!

sleep class

But what if technology can indeed have a positive role on teaching? Technology alone is not the magic solution as it often comes as an imposition to the teacher. So what about having the teacher designing the way technology will be used in the classroom.

The OECD report also says that  ”it is vital that teachers become active agents for change, not just in implementing technological innovations, but in designing them too”. Learning design may very well be one strategy towards sustainable innovation in the classroom as it can only be achieved with the teacher’s active involvement in figuring out what type of change is desirable and feasible. Instead of passively training teachers into the use of technology in the classroom, we should have them entered a learning design studio, as described by Yishay Mor.

There are ways to go beyond this unconvenient truth revealed by the OECD report. But which truth – if any – can be more convenient?

The Open Education Europa portal, that plays a vital role to opening up minds towards greater innovation in the classroom, recently gave “Eight Teacher Truths in the Digital Era“.

1. Learning aims, not tech dreams

2. Create conditions for risk-taking

3. Effect a change in teacher attitudes

4. Ensure the tech works flawlessly

5. Save teachers time

6. Find new ways to share knowledge

7. Meet teachers and use influencers

8. Create spaces for experimentation

Whatever you chose, remember that there is not a single truth for good (and bad) teaching!

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