Let me begin by saying that I can’t claim to have any tangible knowledge about teaching methods and practices. My only knowledge of teaching comes from having been a student for quite a while now, so obviously my observations will be a bit skewed.
The way I see it, being a teacher is almost like being a salesperson. There is a degree to which teaching seems like it’s not just about conveying information, but also selling it – cultivating interest and self-motivation in students as a way of encouraging their retaining the information conveyed. Motivation is often seen as something that one person gives another, an invisible gift, but what must be understood is that motivation can be just as effective and efficient when it’s developed internally. Getting into students heads is key in education. If you can get a student to be self-motivated then the battle is practically won. The key to selling information is ensuring the recipient has autonomous reasons for accepting that information.
Alright, so how do we connect this to technology? To know how to teach students you’ve got to understand the way they think, where there coming from, why homework assignments illicit groans. The last few posts on here have discussed the concept of digital natives, a generation of students who are growing up in a world of computers, smart phones, tablets, and eventually even mind-blowing things like 3D printers.
It seems to me that introducing new technologies in a classroom setting is almost akin to introducing a tablet to my 94 year old great-grandfather. At first there’s excitement, then confusion, and then maybe apprehension. The problem with digital natives is that having been raised in the digital age they are comfortable with familiar technology, but may have more frustration when difficulties arise with new technologies than older generations simply because of their past experience. It’s like riding a bicycle during your formative years and then suddenly being handed a unicycle.
I like to think of teachers as guides through education. There to encourage, fill in the gaps, and many other honorable tasks. This becomes, in my mind, even more important in the face of implementing new technology in classrooms. Familiarity with computers does not mean students will easily adjust to using tablets in a classroom setting – it only means they are familiar with computers. Not to say that students ought to be underestimated, young minds pick up things relatively easily, but I don’t think they should be overestimated either. They need guides to help them face the wave of change that’s rapidly crashing through education. Guides who not only understand their technological mindset, but who are prepared to learn and fail and try again alongside them.