Reflections from a Study Tour to Israel, MOFET 2013
Technology is progressing so fast that we never seem to be able to keep up to date with it.
As teachers, we sometimes feel that we, the “Desert Generation’s” main objective is to lead our students into the “Promised Land,” and by doing so we ourselves may be left behind, just observing the technological miracles envisaged by this new generation.
There is no question about whether or not technology has an impact on education. Technology has, and always will, have power on shaping education. The real issue is the approach that we take when handling the changes and challenges that technology conveys.
Rabbi Kook, a significant thinker of the 19th Century said “In every era, you need to learn how to use the elements that influence the generation”. Adapting this to the 21st Century, the approach seems to be to learn what the future holds technologically, so that we can prepare this generation to cope with it. When examining new and futuristic technologies, one needs to keep in mind the definition of Technology, as given by Allan Kay, an American Computer Scientist. He said: “Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born”. With the constant and endless changes in technologies today, we need to keep this definition in mind. Think about the new upgraded cell phone that you have just purchased. How long will it be before a new version comes onto the market?
In the past 30 years, research on education and technology has shown that since computers were introduced to schools, no change has occurred (Prof Hannan Yaniv, 2013). There is, however, a need to change the way we think about technology and education. These life changing technologies challenge the digital pedagogy and the approach we take to these changes. Instead of using new tools to change the way and what we learn we are doing what we have always done, but more efficiently (Jay Hurvitz, 2013).
Prof Sheizaf Refaeli from the Haifa University claims that disruptive technology can lead to disruptive change. The more established the organisation the more resistant it is to change e.g. Education.
Thornburg’s definition of disruptive technology is as follows: “an impossible-to-predict game changer that will fundamentally alter the conventional landscape”. The technology which he predicts will create the third education revolution is the always-connected mobile device.
Research shows how Africa is leapfrogging from an unwired, non-existent e-learning infrastructure to a wireless e-learning infrastructure with whole integration of online and wireless technologies and learning management systems (Brown, 2003). As a result, the potential of using mobile technology in Africa to bridge the digital divide is being re-examined and researched.
In this regard many questions are being posed to researchers and policy makers in the Educational field. For example:
- “Do we understand technology enough to develop policies about it in education?”
- “When is learning effective?”
The leading answer seems to be that children need to become “designers for learning” and not the “consumers of learning”. To achieve this end, there is a need for cultural change, and then one has to ask what the role of the teacher is? The teacher will then be accountable for the quality of the content being learnt.
How can Technology be the catalyst for change? Examples from the Technion
- Use of mobile technology, such as laptops, in crowded classrooms to create active learning
- YouTube – used as a platform for assignments
- Cloud Pedagogy – learning can take place everywhere, no classroom boundaries
Virtual realities, simulations, mobile technology, virtual platform, cloud pedagogy and digital pedagogy, need to be examined to create lifelong learning. This will equip our students for a future that we ourselves can’t even envisage.