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Technology innovation in education

In the recent ICT Conference held in Durban organized by Schoolnet and sponsored by INTEL, prestigious speakers from around the world were invited to share how they perceive 21st century education.

The following words and phrases were reiterated by the speakers alongside technology: Collaboration, innovation, peer-coaching, pedagogy and teachers’ professional development.

What I really liked about the conference is that the focus wasn’t on the new technologies and hi-tech gadgets but rather on teachers and pedagogy.

As Bruce Dixon, (Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, http://www.aalf.org/) described the transformation of learning environments from Print media (in the 14th – 19th Century) through to broadcast era, (20th Century) he portrays the 21st century as the Collaborative age. Therefore ttransforming education is essential where ICT is embedded in the curriculum (as opposed to having ICT as a separate and disconnected subject).

BUT again highlighting that it is NOT the technology that makes the difference but the pedagogy.

The guidelines for changes to take place are directed by Prof. Symour Papert quote:

use of technology by children –
to do things they couldn’t do before
to do at level of complexity that was not done before”

Bruce, leaving us with yet another inspiring quote “laptop – an instrument whose music is ideas” reminding us that the evolution of innovation is by letting technology increase our pedagogical capacity to innovate.

What can technology innovation do to enhance education delivery?
(Think about the evolution from basic ICT skills to 1:1 laptop per learner)

  1. address learner diversity
  2. pedagogical innovation
  3. technology effectiveness and personalization
  4. effective means of assessment
  5. re-imaging curriculum which is relevant for 21st Century learning

Teachers who adopt technology will find that their teaching is leverage and powerful.

Ferruh Gurtis, Intel Turkey, reminded us that with all the efforts to achieve what is needed in 21st century education we need to keep in mind that “Computers aren’t magic- teachers are”!

There is no doubt that technology can assist education but in that saying we have to ensure that it is provided to ALL, together with the support, training and maintenance required.

And for that, I”m afraid, we need the policy makers and the long term vision. Inspiring teachers, I think, may just turn to be the easy part.

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