ITL Research, ICT, Innovative Teaching & the moral imperative

I am currently reading the ITL Research findings report, paying particular attention to the section written by Michael Fullan where he discusses innovative teaching & learning (p33). One piece that struck home with me was his discussion of the 3rd driver of system reform which is that ‘pedagogy needs to drive technology‘ and that the ITL research shows that ‘when pedagogy ( innovative teaching practices) is clearly the focus a lot of other things fall into place, including strong use of ICT, and improving the learning of 21st century skills on the part of students.’

One complaint made by many teachers (and I am guilty of it myself) since the advent of 1:1 computers in the DER program is that technology becomes just another distraction from the learning that should be happening (and ‘used to happen back in my day’ etc.). It is all too easy to blame the laptops for distracting the students (playing flash games when they should be typing up the notes from the board). Technology is seen as the bane of a teacher’s existence, or at least an annoying consideration that we shouldn’t have to deal with, we’ve got to get tougher on these kids, etc. Ban the laptops, burn them (ok that was going a bit too far).

The point I am trying to make here is that rather than seeing laptop technology as an annoyance (or a curse) the REAL problem here, and the one we’d rather ignore, is that increased ICT access highlights the lack that is inherent in so much teaching and learning.

Lack of relevance
Lack of engagement
Lack of meaning

Rather than seeing increased ICT access as a negative, we should see it as an opportunity for us to reassess what we’re teaching and what the students are learning and to make the teaching/learning process more engaging, relevant & meaningful.

It means we’ll have to modify, alter or even throw out what we’ve been comfortably delivering for many years. We’ll have to begin to ask students what is relevant for them. We’ll have to find new ways to engage and challenge these young minds. This is our new moral imperative (or perhaps it has always been our imperative) and we must not turn our backs from the future to waste our/their time looking back at a sepia tone past.