It always seem to be the most rational solution to addressing today's learning needs. Most of the time, it also seems to be the only way to prepare learners for the future. Of course, we're talking about educational technology.
There are instances, however, that the above may not be true. Let's look at 5 instances when technology becomes more of an hindrance than an aid to learning.
It's always easy to jump on the bandwagon. I guess it's part of human nature to always have an urge to 'fit in,' 'be part of the clique,' or to 'keep up with the Joneses.' Idiomatic expressions aside, one of the biggest detriments of technology to learning is deploying tech for the sake of tech or using tech just because "everyone else is using it."
It's always nice to be updated on the latest trends in educational technology. However, it would always be best to do a readiness check first before doing anything. (We all know what happens to those that try to "keep up with the Joneses.") This then brings us to the second instance: organization readiness.
2. Organization 'un-Readiness'
As mentioned above, we don't want to deploy any tech in our classrooms just because everyone else is doing it. We might want to do a readiness check first before deploying any type of edtech approach in our organization.
The most important check we might want to do is the Stakeholder Readiness Check. For the sake of this post, let's look at a typical company as an example. In doing this check here are some questions you might want to ask yourself and your stakeholders:
- "Is the management supportive of deploying tech in the classrooms?
- "Do we have someone from the top, mid, and staff levels who are willing to champion the cause?"
- "Are our instructors/educators trained, capable of, and comfortable with employing edtech in class?"
- "How receptive are our learners to applying edtech approaches in their learning?"
- "Do our learners and staff have the resources (investment of time/effort or monetary) for edtech?"
The key to successfully deploying edtech approaches in the classroom is to get the entire organization's buy-in. (Of course, also expect to have some detractors - though they should be minimal). It also critical that we have champions on each level of the organization who can be tapped as resource persons. Finally - and most importantly, we must take into consideration the readiness of our learners. (Ooh..this is the OD practitioner in me talking).
When we get more detractors than advocates, then it is advisable to resolve all concerns first. I'm sure we've heard a lot of stories of schools and companies that failed in employing edtech (or showed negative results) because not everyone bought into the entire concept. One such example I encountered is that of a principal who forced edtech when the teachers were not trained or knowledgeable enough, and students/parents thought they did not have the appropriate resources. The school eventually dropped the approach because it became detrimental not only to the learners but to the entire organization as well. (No name-dropping, of course!)
3. Improper/Incomplete Implementation and 'un-Sustainability'
Here's another pitfall for employing edtech - improper implementation... or in layman's terms: "failure to follow through."
I've also personally seen some schools improperly implement edtech - and what happened was that resources were just wasted. Such an example was a school that tried to implement BYOD - tablets were required for students, but they were only used for e-book textbooks and nothing else. What's worse is that no one in the school is in-charge of the devices, so when they broke down or aren't working as they were supposed to - no one knew what to do. What made it all such a waste was no one in that school knew the potential of BYOD - that those tablets can be used for more than just textbooks. And do take note, these were top-of-the-line models from a leading tech manufacturer. Such a waste!
Reasons for improper/incomplete implementation can stem from a lot of reasons; but most are probably due to a lack or resources - both human and material.
So, yes, before deploying any tech in the classroom, we need to do another important check - the Resource Check. Here are some questions you can ask:
- "Do we have enough knowledgeable personnel to properly deploy and maintain such technologies?"
- "Do we have enough resources (funding) to ensure that we can fully deploy and sustain edtech?"
4. Differences in Learning Culture
This one is all too familiar for me. During my stint as a learning manager, our clients asked our team to administer a self-paced computer-based training (CBT) module to our staff - a certification course to support a new product. The results were disappointing - 89% failed the certification. What we did instead was to use the same content, but with an instructor-led approach (ILT). Lo and behold - 98% passed the certification. Same content, different approach, a positive result - and do take note, we did this quite a few times.
Our team's conjecture - there really exists a difference in learning culture between the UK (our client's headquarters) and the Philippines. Our Philippine History teachers have discussed that Filipino culture is based on oral tradition since time immemorial - and this has translated into our preference of face-to-face instruction in modern times (and our team was there to experience this first-hand).
Even if the learning culture in your organization is not conducive to edtech - don't worry, there's a way to change it. It would, however, involve a lot of effort and commitment on everyone's part. (The OD practitioner in me is speaking again - check out Lewin's 3-stage Model of Change: Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze)
5. Not Adopting the Learner-Centric Approach
There is one truth about edtech - and that is it employs a learner-centric approach. At first glance (or first impression to some) - edtech still doesn't stray away from the traditional instrutor-centric approach. Considering that the most popular uses of edtech are virtual classrooms, webinars, and video-conferences that require an instructor, it's easy to fathom that edtech is still reliant on instructors. This conjecture, no matter how rational it seems, is not entirely true. Edtech has always been, and will always be, learner-centric.
Given the edtech approaches mentioned above as examples, though appearing to be instructor-centric and almost similar to a classroom session, THEY ARE NOT. There are different kinds of learner-centric activities that an instructor can use while facilitating online classes (ex. 3-minute rule, polling, use of annotation tools, group breakout rooms, etc.), that make sure that the learning is focused on the learners.
There is also a big tendency to use instructor-centric approaches when we design content for virtual learning environments. However, we need to consider the context of our learners. They are in front of a computer (or tablet/mobile) with no one able to see what they're doing. It's easy to be distracted and it's easy to get away with doing other things; unlike a classroom setting wherein the facilitator can control the participants. With this apparent difference in learning contexts, we therefore need to change our content to engage our learners more.
There you go!These are the 5 instances where technology can be detrimental to learning. If you have anything to add to our list above, please feel free to let us know through the comments section below. Cheers!