June 13, 2012 by samuelshep
So I’m at a conference, killing a few moments and thinking about the debate I’m going to be engaging in this afternoon.
The question for the debate is simple enough: do good teachers need technology? Once upon a time I would have answered the question with a resounding “YES!” but I have grown older and fatter if not wiser since then, and my reaction has changed. For the sake of argument, by technology here I mean digital tech: that is another debate again!
There are two strands here: the first is around good teaching, the other is around the good teacher as a developing teacher. They are not unconnected, but they are definitely two separate sides of the same coin.
So the first point: is there a relationship between good teaching and technology? Leaving aside definitions of “good” for a moment, my answer is this “yes”. Except it’s not that good teaching uses technology, or must use technology. For me one of the qualities of a good teacher is that they innovate, and innovators are more likely to engage with new developments and therefore technologies. And this is where the correlation comes in: a good teacher might use tech in the classroom because they like to try stuff out, and not necessarily because the tech will make them better. And so the tech gets used well, and becomes associated with good teaching practice. A bad teacher will make bad use of any resource, including digital technology. There is a correlation between good teaching and technology, but correlation is not necessarily clear evidence of causation.
But then when it comes to teacher development, I think technology, especially web 2.0 technology, offers enormous potential in the form of networking and sharing of ideas and resources, and the good teacher will very likely be looking for these opportunities to expand and develop. But I know plenty of teachers who barely touch social networking and online sharing, yet are open and active “professional developers” using more traditional resources, and older web technology. For me the correlation here is less clear, and there is not necessarily that direct link.
I’ll update this later once the debate is done!