English Breakfast: Is Innovation a Game Changer Automatically?

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Source: https://pixabay.com/de/glühbirne-licht-birne-energie-1246043/ 01/30/2017

Every new technology led to the belief that the paradigm of education would shift entirely. Be it the radio, the television, recording material (e.g. video cassettes or the CD) and now the raise of ICT and the internet. But interestingly enough, educational approaches did not change as expected. Today, I would like to talk about the reasons for that and under which circumstances technical innovation could change education altogether.

A Paradigm Shift Is Not a Given

In education, at least in Austria, people thought that the sheer throwing-in of technology would change the way pupils would educate themselves. But at the intersection of knowledge and methodology there is human interaction. And the human interaction is not a constant, but a variable. In essence, every new technology needs to be assessed with the societal background in mind. It takes many years until something is regarded as proven by society. Only then are more and more teachers willing to use it in class.

The Importance of a Good Teacher

Those teachers who think that they could be replaced by a machine, are the ones who should. Everyone of us remembers that one teacher who had a lasting impact on our lives. The one who challenged us the right way and talked to us in a language that we understood more so than the abstract concept of education. Everything depends on that teacher. If he or she is able to integrate technology successfully in class, that paradigm shift could happen. If that teacher is averse to technology, it could never be a game changer. 

Basically, the idea is that all teachers should be trained to use technology effectively in class. Not a specific technology, but in general. That way, we are able to catch that one teacher for each and everyone of us. It means that the pedagogical approach ought to change as well. And that is where teacher training institutions come in. If they are sold on the use of technology, teachers are going to use it in class. Otherwise, it is a matter of individual idealism and belief. 

The Intersection is Human

If we learned something from the desperate tries to integrate technology in class in the last 30 years, it is that the educational approaches need to be developed simultaneously. If there is a thought-out approach for an effective use, the technology has a chance. That is exactly why the internet as an educational resource has a better chance of reaching the classroom. Nowadays, we know how to use it. There are effective templates for that and endless material on the web. If you evaluate technology by its effects on education, think of the grade they are integrated in society and you might get an answer.