Teachers and Edtech: A match made in heaven!

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“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.” – Nancy Kassebaum

When EdTech is mentioned most folks focus on the benefits that it accrues to students. They are right, learners certainly gain from these digital tools. The twist of this discussion is that teachers are potrayed as villains who resist  technology. The fact that edtech is essentially a tool for teachers is neglected. The truth is that anything enhances learning is a bonus and welcomed eagerly by teachers to do their jobs more effectively.

The dilemma though is that most teachers haven’t embraced EdTech fully especially assessment data. I discovered this when interact with teachers virtually or offline. when Most are worried that they pressure on students to perform will become more intense as data can be accrued rapidly. They know first hand, the impact that high-stakes standardized assessment will have on students’ motivation and performance.

This has become an obstacle that often prevents teachers from embracing technologies that were created to eliminate a need for harmful standardized assessment instead of increasing personalized, or differentiated instruction.

In regular instruction, the teacher maintains a personalized or differentiated learning approach via face-to-face relationships. The learning objectives, concepts, and skills are intuitively broken down into pieces that can be easily digested by individual learners. Each piece is presented in a way that feels contextually relevant–using metaphors that make sense to the individual. When the pupil doesn’t “get it,” the teacher instantly adapts his or her approach. Teachers are constantly adjusting and forming on-the-spot  assessments and adapting accordingly.

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Awesome teachers adapt their teaching in this way continously…for some of their students. It just isn’t feasible to do it for everyone. No matter how badly they desire to do so for everyone, it’s beyond their limitations to do this for everyone. Due to this, a percentage of students in a traditional classroom reap the benefits of the instructor’s personalization skills and other students don’t.

This leads to a quandary for most classroom teachers, the students who need the most personalized attention are also the hardest ones to reach. The reality is that the students we connect with are often the ones with whom we share the most similarities with. In the best case scenario, the one’s who get the most attention are the one’s who validate our efforts with frequent successes or in my case, challenge us the most.

Computers, however, aren’t human, they have no such bias. If used well, gaming and adaptive learning technologies offer tools that can empower teachers to do their jobs more effectively, more precisely , and more equitably.

Critics of digital learning technologies focus on the fear that teachers will be replaced with robotic avatars. They envision classrooms with students staring at screens. Let’s focus upon a more optimistic future. Gamifying assessments and digital adaptive learning technologies will provide an opportunity for teachers to more effectively act as mentors– facilitators. Let’s imagine a future where teachers can more easily and equitably adapt their own teaching style, curriculum and learning in ways that keep them closely connected to their students.

Remember technology is a tool that teachers should leverage because technology delivers insights and analytics in very useful forms that allow them to focus their precious resources on helping students.

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