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Tech is not the be-all and end-all

Although I said I'd blog every day in November, I meant "school days" and didn't intend to blog on the weekend. But I had a few minutes between tasks and was browsing Twitter and came across Draper's post:
It’s (still) not OK for teachers to remain digitally illiterate. Here’s why…
Now, for starters, I encourage any and all teachers to aim towards integrating technology into their classrooms in a meaningful and appropriate to their task way. I'm a tech guy.  I enjoy experimenting, and failing, with technology in my classroom as we push against physical & virtual pedagogical boundaries.
However, I decline to agree that a teacher who does not integrate technology into their classroom is in any way neglecting the best interests of the student so long as the teacher is focusing on critical thinking and social & emotional learning (and their subject matter), and is, in their own way experimenting with their craft.  That latter part is important -- if they are only doing what they did last year, and not responding to student learning needs, then yes, they need a wake-up call.  But the other end of the phone may not be technology -- it may be professional work on classroom management, discussion, questioning, assessment & feedback, etc.
Why do I not make it a seemingly moral obligation to demand technology use from teachers?
Because of transfer. If you earnestly teach a student to be critical thinkers in any context, then that (should) help them be critical in other areas.  And if you don't agree with that, then how can you justify them using tech tools (smartphones, say) when the technology of their tomorrow will be augmented & virtual reality, holograms, directly-beamed-into-head-images (who knows?)... will their digital-critical-thinking skills necessarily transfer between digital realms any more effectively?  Put in their core the ability to question & reason in any space.
The same argument can be made for misbehaviour.  Technology doesn't create the misbehaviour; it accelerates what was already there.  So if you work on students' empathy and understanding, conflict resolution and bullying (management?  I'm not sure the right word) then when they return to their digital spaces (either after school, or in their next class) they have internalized personal approaches to human (and digital) interactions.
Focus on good teaching. Focus on making learning visible. Focus on social & emotional learning. If a teacher experiments with technology, that's great! But don't imply any less professionalism for a teacher who is focusing good teaching in a non-technological environment.


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