Can Technology Replace a Teacher? – Expert Speak
Technology has invaded every aspect of our life; from banking and investments to booking cabs and grocery shopping and most importantly information & communication. About a decade and a half ago when I was teaching in a reputed school in Hyderabad, I remember “basic “and “logo” as languages that were being taught to students as part of “computer education”. Honestly, I was clueless and wondered what they were and how they would help. I now know!
Technology has always been a part of a teacher’s life. Imagine what a teacher would do without a blackboard (now white or green or glass board!). The black board, according to me, was the earliest form of technology that the teacher had to adapt to. Using it creatively to draw attention to key points, deftly draw a figure and label it or get children to produce a little bit of work on it (participative learning) were some of the ways it was and is still used. Slowly, other forms of technology aids like the radio, tape recorder, TV and OHP were introduced and integrated into the teaching-learning processes. Each one brought its own challenges and successes. And now in the 21st Century and the so called Digital Era technology cannot remain in isolation from a teacher’s life.
So what forms of technology does a teacher use? Are they a boon or a bane?
The most common technology integration with the curriculum is in the form of AV Rooms with “smart boards” where most teachers show multimedia lessons. It is important to make the learning session in an AV Room a true learning experience by not making it a “movie show”, but by preparing for the lesson and integrating various activities like reading, writing, drawing, brainstorming, analyzing either individually or in pairs or in small groups and ensuring that the concepts are related to their day-to-day life. The other form of technology integration would be use of a computer lab or tab-lab for self-learning by students. Students should be given prior instructions to go through a prescribed lesson and complete a paper-pencil assessment or an online assessment at the end of the lesson that would help measure the achievement of learning outcomes.
With Internet being cheaper and faster and more easily available, a slightly higher level of technology usage would be where teachers ask their students to research curricular topics online and make presentations. Use of online worksheets, personalized and adaptive learning, “just-in-time learning” through online tutoring and online collaborative learning are slowly finding their way into the teaching–learning process. Video conferencing (VSAT) is also being used to beam lessons “live” across schools.
And how does technology impact a teacher’s administrative role? Mundane data entry, marks calculations and analyzing student skills’ development have become a lot easier now thanks to the ERP with customized formats where all that the teacher has to do is to enter the student data correctly and lo and behold – the report card is printed. Earlier, so much of time was spent in doing it manually. Communication with parents is easier with the bulk SMS that can be sent at the click of a mouse – imagine the teacher spending so much getting students to write circulars in diaries. And question paper creation and printing has also been made easy through the use of document software. Lesson plans, worksheets, question papers, student records, etc can be stored and easily retrieved as per the need.
The flip side? Teachers tend to rely too much on online resources and “Google” to prepare what they need. They prefer not to innovate and create. Many a times, technology resources can let them down at crucial times; back up plans must be in place to ensure that technology supports rather than letting them down.
A teacher will always be integral to the teaching-learning process and technology will never ever replace a teacher. Technology can help the teacher save time and make lessons meaningful and interesting, and it can be a useful aid for a teacher in making the student learn the “way” he wants to learn. A lot of time needs to be allocated to training teachers in the effective use of technology, especially with newer forms being integrated each day. Teachers need to seamlessly integrate technology as it the paper and pen for the children born in the 21stt Century!
Chief Learning Architect
CarveNiche Technologies, Bangalore
Padma J is a management professional from the Education Sector with over 25 years of work experience ranging from Teaching & Training to Business Operations; creating new business models including customized learning solutions in K-10 schools, Technology & Multimedia Education, Training of Trainers & Teachers, Technical & Higher Education, Corporate Training and Skill Development. Find more about Padma J.