If you can’t see the video above then read the transcript below.
Hello and welcome to Learn 4 Life News on TouchCast.
I’m starting a new season of films today for busy teachers.
Each week I will look at different aspects of the Edtech and mainstream news, blogs and other social activity online; beginning with a quick look at how various educational bloggers are very skeptical about the use of Edtech in schools.
A lot of practising teachers don’t have time for technology in their classrooms – only one thing has to go wrong, and in this increasingly time-efficient world, that’s one time too many.
I was an IT specialist back in the 80’s. 90’s and noughties and I was a full-time ICT teacher at primary level, so I was able to devote far more time to working out solutions and workflows than the average teacher. But even I had constant problems with the tech going wrong or not working as it should, so I can understand people’s frustrations.
Let’s look at a couple of blogs and whether people’s perception of Edtech measures up to the reality.
First up is the Quirky Teacher blog whose byline is the Self-Professed: Supporter of Traditional Education.
Oh, by the way, in the interactive version of this film on TouchCast you can stop the whole film when a web page or other resource appears. Just click on the picture and it will take you to the resource and minimise my video. Give it a try now with Quirky’s Blog.
In her piece on May 10th – 2016 – Characteristically hyperbolic – entitled – What if the Revolution Turns out to be the Apocalypse?
Quirky (because we do not know her real name) states:
‘The Future may not be as rosy as we may think, and preparing children for some imaginary world that may never materialise is probably the worst thing we could do.’
She goes on to fire from the hip at Lord Baker’s Proposals mentioned in Helen Ward’s piece in the TES:
“Knowledge is ‘not enough’ if students are to find jobs after the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, says Lord Baker.
Quirky states quite categorically:
‘… I dispute his assertion that jobs for life are disappearing; we still need teachers, accountants, engineers, doctors, PAs. Customer Service Reps etc.’
Yes – of course we will need some of those professions but if we look at long term trends in changes in employment, we see this to be just boxed in “instututionalised” thinking, quickly cobbled together “off the cuff” unfortunatley.
She goes on to press her point:
‘The fact that the author cites 3D printers and driverless vehicles as being a key feature in changing the nature of the workplace makes me very suspicious. Even if driverless vehicles become a reality, the sheer cost of implementing this kind of technology on a wider scale would negate any benefits. 3D printers also seem to make a mockery of basic economics: why have economies of scale (factories specialising in x, y or z cheap widget production) when you can have a really inefficient process that makes mostly useless mock-ups of Grand Designs houses or personalised Star Wars toys?’
No I’m afraid I can’t let her get away with that. This is what I would call Lazy Casuistry and it smacks of someone desperate to prove a point but who hasn’t really studied anything to do with the realities of the job market, manufacturing, resources and what is, in fact, the case.
I tackled this whole area some time back in a very detailed blog – looking specifically at the reasons for the rise in 3D manufacturing and the changes in the job market where people are now building their own kitchen table businesses. The figures are there.
The future is always built on the past – firing at one technology because it doesn’t fit in with your worldview is a little ignorant, to say the least.
If you read my blog you’ll see how there is a natural progression, over years and decades, where technological change does happen and it happens, with the input of, often, very traditional academic institutions as well as emergent innovative markets.
The facile examples Quirky gives off the top of her head don’t really cut it I’m afraid.
She then goes on to extrapolate a dystopian future citing such things as reversed social mobility (although social mobility was only a few decades in the last century following the second world war ); population increase; the dearth of housing; debt-ridden younger people.
It seems a very vague bar room philosophy of trying to bash tech in schools with reference to the future.
There is a wider cultural and technological change happening all around. My concerns are the use of that tech to pin down populations using data and surveillance.
Many teachers are all too happy to put down tech and use it as a proxy for all their other concerns about the world.
When you do see positive comments it is usually connected with things like making jobs easier when using data – QED this recent tweet from Tom Sherrington:
So I was pleased to read a more nuanced argument from Jose Picardo.
“Overlapping Arguments: Why we love to hate technology”
is more insightful and considered discourse.
Jose, unlike Quirky, isn’t throwing his toys out of the pram but considering which ones to keep; which ones are best used in the best context with traditional teaching resources – and that’s a judgement call most teachers make every day.
As a language teacher, he takes the analogy of what is lost in translation – how the literal cannot be carried over from one language to the other without an entire loss of context.
He isn’t constantly “baying” for evidence – (evidence of what you may ask yourself?) – or looking to non-existent futuristic windmills to battle against but puts forward a very reflective piece indeed and I urge you to read it.
Please do read the L4L Blog and listen to the Podcasts. I’m also in the middle of writing a course on building a cheap easy portable Video unit for schools.
Have a productive end of the week and don’t work too hard at the weekend.