With this unexpected shift away from traditional four wall classrooms in many parts of the globe almost attributed to the pandemic, some educators and schools are still in a state of confusion and laxity on whether they need to make a move, adopt and integrate technology in teaching and learning (with recent focus put on online learning). In fact one may even wonder whether online learning will continue even after this pandemic is gone! To me, the question of when or whether online learning will continue or not would not be of concern.
My questions would be “As educators or curriculum implementers, what does this mean for future learning? How are we preparing? How have we responded to this unexpected shift? What does this unexpected shift mean to our classroom practices? Does it call for Ed-tech replacing the four wall classroom teaching? These questions puzzle my mind in light with the grievances at hand in the education sector that is, severe learning losses, struggling schools with Ed-tech, to mention but a few. Therefore building Ed-tech infrastructures in our schools could be a long-term strategy to address the above questions in our education sector.
Adoption, integration and implementation of technology in schools
Whereas some schools have decided to start embracing technology, others are still hesitant. I still hold a belief that educational institutions have the unaccomplished task of adopting and implementing technology in teaching and learning. As educators, we have to learn a lesson from this pandemic which is actually an eye opener to all the stakeholders in education. For how long shall we keep saying that we cannot afford the use of ICT in our educational institutions? I believe that we need to integrate and use ICT in our education, make online learning not only a solution to pandemics but rather an integral component of our education system!
With adoption, integration and implementation of technology in education, the way of teaching will change. We shall be in position to reach and interact with our learners effectively through several internet tools such as zoom (most pronounced these days), share documents, give feedback to the learners, be innovative, creative and productive teachers, to mention but a few.
Why adopt, integrate and implement educational technology?
As said above, we need not to view educational technology as a primary solution to the unexpected pandemics, but rather an integral component in our education system. The whole world has been affected by the pandemic and it is understandably clear that the corona virus has severely affected the education sector leaving our learners and teachers with no hope.
Very few schools for instance in Uganda have resorted to online learning as a strategy to engage learners during this period while others that cannot afford Ed-tech are waiting to resume learning in January 2022. It would be incredible for such schools that have opted for online learning to maintain and make it an integral part of their school system even after the pandemic. Educational technology could have saved our schools a lot had it been that technology was part of our school systems. We wouldn’t be registering such learning losses we are registering now!
A 21st century teacher verses educational technology
A 21st century teacher needs to be familiar with technology tools for a better delivery in his or her classroom. If we the educators are not embracing and equipping ourselves with the changes in technology, we shall not be able to deal with these waves such as the Covid-19 that are not only interfering but also affecting and undermining our efforts in the education sector. In this 21st Century, all the pre-service and In-service teachers need technology skills. Teachers need to be systemically prepared to use technology in schools and in the same way, schools need to be open to digital technology such as knowing how to use application programs, making connections, using the internet, content creation etc.
Our learners in this digital age
It is of no doubt that our learners are digital natives and are more familiar with technological usage. These learners have the ability and skills to use different Ed-tech in learning. Our learners understand that we do not possess the same level of digital skills as they themselves do. So teachers who do not possess such digital skills tend to evade Ed-tech in the teaching and learning process. Teachers who are not skilled in technology will often ask one of their learners for help. This is a reversal of roles which is not bad, but how long should learners keep helping a teacher to for instance connect a digital projector to a laptop? Think about this!
Both pre-service and in-service teachers need to nurture their Ed-tech competencies through a series of professional development programs. These could be school based trainings and workshops.
Digital technology should be conducted alongside traditional classroom teaching. We should not undermine or even ignore the role played by digital technology in simplifying teaching as well as transforming our schools.
Educational technology is speedily penetrating the education sector and so, we need to embrace it in order to realize technology’s potential in education.
Check for free resources from ICTug.com and learn at your own pace so as to become a teacher befitting the 21st Century.
About Ogwal Isaac.