Some while ago, now, I asked for answers to the question Why use technology in teaching? I was preparing to run an afternoon workshop for some fellow students on a HE teaching course and wanted to present them with some convincing reasons to consider technology in their teaching, so I turned to twitter and the blogosphere. At the time I promised a follow-up post summarising the discussion, so here it is.

I put together the slides for the initial presentation using SlideRocket, and you can flip through them here:

Becka Currant kicked off the discussion by pointing out that “too many assumptions are made about digital fluency.” This is something that I’ve since come to agree with: it’s all too easy to assume that because young people appear comfortable with technology, they are completely turned on to the consequences of its use. Becka also pointed me in the direction of this typology from JISC’s Enhancing Learner Progression project which does a great job of explaining the separation between students’ level of technological experience and its contribution to education.

Doug Belshaw pointed out Ben Grey’s post from Tech & Learning and his crowdsourced followup, along with Doug’s own response. All three are worth a read, so go ahead and check them out.

Tomaz Lasic made an insightful comment that many the skills we were looking to achieve with technology (or education in general) are far from new:

“2nd century BC” skills that even some of the old Greek wise heads were talking about — democracy, participation, freedom of expression & thought, active citizenship — you know those pesky old things that never seemed to go out of fashion with thoughtful people.

Tomaz followed up with a thought-provoking post on his own blog, which underscored the point that I was trying to make originally: that it’s vital to consider what we want to achieve with technology, not just how cool it is.

Catherine Werst suggested that one of the best reasons for using technology to teach is that it pushes us out of our comfort zones, forcing us to question our assumptions about what it means to teach:

Technology presents opportunities and challenges that stretch us to become better teachers.

Jenny Evans drew on her work with Wolverhampton City Council interviewing kids for an e-learning promotional video (the site seems to have some odd certificate problems, but you can view the video there). She summarised her experience thus:

We got loads of interviews with kids about what they got from from technology — a really strong theme of improving life chances emerged.

Finally, Paul Jinks suggested that teachers tend to use technology when it makes their lives easier and students use it when it’s necessary for their assessments: a paraphrasing of his earlier blog post. Although I agree with this in part, I think this overgeneralises a complex situation. I also live in hope that some, if not all, teachers can be persuaded that improving their own teaching practice and using technology is one (though not the only) way to do this.

In summary, this post turned up some really useful opinions on why we use technology in teaching. Indeed, it’s worked so well that I’m going to try to keep up the theme of “Ask the Readers”, as it fits in well with my desire to learn from this blog and help others to do the same. I hope you’ve found the responses as interesting as I did, and encourage you to continually ask the question “Why use technology?”

This is the first time I’ve summarised a discussion from a previous post. Did it work? Did I add enough value to justify the new post? What could I have done better? Please let me know in the comments below.