When talking about the digitalization in school, the voices of the skeptics are the loudest. Quite often, I bump into an article, a post or a personal conversation in which the voices of the doubters are very loud and the level of disbelief that technology is able to elevate education is high. To elevate the quality of education to be exact. They say, technology did not help at all in previous decades. Why is that and under which circumstances could technological evolutions succeed? A short comment ...
The societal context
Those who say that technological inventions did not contribute to improving education, do not understand that all inventions have to be considered within their societal context. A lot of these invention did not become a natural part of our lives or were capable enough to do so. Only in the last five to ten years we use computers capable enough to become a natural part of our daily lives. The same thing applies to smartphones. We use them so intuitively that we cannot imagine a day without them.
And that seems to be the key criteria. Do we use the technology on a daily basis for it to become an integral part of our life. That did not apply for recorders, interactive whiteboards or video cassettes in previous years. Nowadays, smartphones, tablets and notebooks are being used very differently. These technological inventions have the potential to change the educational interaction because they became an integral part of society. And in this society, we need children to use this technology effectively to take part - at all levels.
Those teachers, who think that they could be replaced by technology are the ones who should.
Some critics say that the critical thinking skill is being jeopardized by relying on the gadgets and the earlier we teach young children to use them, the sooner they will unlearn this skill. That is absurd. To those I say that they do not understand technology nor pedagogy. It is not the pedagogical goal to not teach critical thinking anymore. Quite the opposite in fact. Technology should help! If it is being used as an additional source of content and communication, we should be fine. But technology is not going to change education by itself. Skilled teachers and a thought-out pedagogical implementation are more important than ever. And no technology could replace the importance of a teacher. Critical thinking is the nature of a thought process. And this process should and can be taught regardless of the technology.