Innovative EdTech: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

I have been thinking about educational technology tools and applications which are touted as ways to improve learning and help teachers become innovative in their teaching practices but are really tools that support out of date teaching practices.  One such tool has been around a long time and can be found in many classrooms.  This tool is the Interactive White Board (IWB).  I do not think that this is good use of money because this tool does not support innovative teaching practices.  I am not the only person to think this.  In Whiteboards—A Modest Proposal by Gary Stager, Gary Stager states,

Aside from producing an illusion of modernity, interactive whiteboards are a pre-Gutenberg technology; the priest chants while the monks slavishly take dictation on their tablets. They reinforce the dominance of the front of the room and teacher supremacy. At a time of enormous educational upheaval, technological change, and an increasing gulf between adults and children, it is a bad idea to purchase technology that facilitates the delivery of information and increases the physical distance between teacher and learner.

I agree whole heartedly and suggest schools spend the money on getting more technology in the hands of the students where they can focus on the 4C’s.

Some might say but I have seen some great things happening in classes with IWBs.  This may be true but it is the teacher that makes the difference not the IWB.  Gary Stager says, “We don’t buy a chain saw for every teacher. If we did, a few teachers would do brilliant work with the chain saws, a few others would cut off their thumbs, and the vast majority would just make a mess. Even in the case of the great teachers, the best we can hope for is one of those bears carved out of a log—not high art.”

I question the use of such tech as it does not support high level Depth of Knowledge  (DOK) either.  At best all we can hope for is DOK level 1, maybe 2!

Buying more iPads or laptops are a better purchase as they can be used for things other than the presentation of material. Having more devices puts the tech in the student’s hands rather than the teacher’s.  It is far more important that our students are using technology for higher level learning activities than the teacher is using a fancy new way to present information. Again, the teacher needs to use the tool effectively in order for it to make a difference.  Getting a 1:1 environment and then using apps like Nearpod will not improve things much either. Where does DOK 3 or 4 fit into the Nearpod app?  It basically is substituting one lecture for another.  It places the interactivity of the IWB on the students device.  This is not innovative teaching and does not allow the student to collaborate, communicate, create or critically think.

Be careful of Ed Tech that is touted as innovative but is actually still supporting outdated pedagogy.  Is it okay to use it sometimes?  Maybe, but approach with extreme caution!

Thanks for reading

Shannon Doak


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