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June 03, 2009


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Steve Howard

Just a thought for the technology 'flat earth'ers.

The actual technology - be it a cell phone, Google or Twitter is not so relevant.

The *access to* information, conversation, feedback, verification, validation, contradiction, expansion (I could go on, like I often do...) that technology brings us as constant learners (you do agree we are constant learners these days, don’t you?) is not just significant, it is explosive.

10 years ago, or 20 if you were at University then, you had not heard of the Internet or web searches. There was no 'information at your fingertips'. No Wikipedia. If you wanted to find out about something you had to go to the library, buy or borrow a book, sit for hours with your dad and a stack of beer or any of a zillion other methods that were required to get information.

Want to know about the lifecycle of a salmon? Get out the Encyclopedia Britannica or ask your biology-teacher neighbour.

What is Buckminster Fullerene? Definitely a trip to the library for that one.

If you want access to that sort of information today, it takes less than 10 seconds to locate all the information you need and more.

If you want to teach about the social interactions of Australian Aborigines, even if you don't want or need to employ any sort of technology in your classrooom (not even PowerPoint) I bet a pound to a pinch of shite (lovely Britishism that one) that you get on the web and do some or all of your research there. And your class certainly will.

And here’s the rub. If you happen to *not* use Google or Wikipedia or other web resources in your teaching research, you are failing your students. Doing so does not take much technological skill or motivation. It takes a lot more of both if you want to employ mobile devices or Twitter or whatever in your classroom. Your students may learn better if you do, they may not.

But you can bet your bottom that many of your students will go ahead and use any and all technology that they can harness in order to achieve their goals. Many (most?) won’t because they are as technologically ambivalent as you are. But then they will be at a disadvantage for not doing so.

As are teachers – good or bad – who fail to grasp even the basics of the technological tools out there that can help them teach, help them research what they teach and help their learners learn.

Still a flat earther? Well start with a simple thing. Include Google search links in your reference material. Why? Information changes. If you include a link to a search, at least your reference material will be up to date, even if you aren’t.

John Zurovchak

This is a very interesting discussion that is going on here. I have not yet sorted out where I feel that I fit, let alone how others in this profession might feel. I agree with Ellen that I see my job as an elearning specialist to use technology to improve performance. That means that I need to understand learning theory and technology alike. I need to be able to write, design, create, manage and update digital resources so that I can reach more learners and help to facilitate their ability to improve their daily performance.

I'm not sure that I agree with KnowledgeStar regarding the fact that "If you give a great teacher no technology you get students who are learning."

Two thoughts come to mind:

1. If you have a GREAT teacher that does NOT know how to use technology, then you will not get great teaching if technology is the required medium to reach them.

2. It seems to me that in our new world, a GREAT teacher without technology is like the proverbial tree in the forest that falls without anyone to hear it. In my world, if you have teaching without technology, you are not reaching everyone and your teaching simply echoes in the empty space.

As I mentioned above, these are only my experiences and half-baked thoughts on this. I am enjoying this discussion quite a bit.


Well, looks like your posts may still be yanking chains. Perhaps there will be a chain for each title, discipline, notion, self-defintion. Unlike KnowledgeStar, I DO think it's about the technology. Web 2.0 allowed asynchronous, anytime, all the time, just in time LEARNING. Not teaching, but learning. Not presentation, but conversation. And to make the conversation possible, you need the eLearning/Learning/Instructional/Technoloogy/KnowledgeArchitect types of people at the table. The game has changed. Let's play!


I've been reading your latest posts with great interest. And I think you are stuck in the same trap that most of the people who teach using technology fall into.

First, technology is not just something that plugs into a wall socket or runs on a battery or gets information without wires. Technology is words, writing, books. Pretty basic. All the 'stuff' being talked about as Web 2.0 and beyond misses the point. Focusing on technology means not seeing how and why learning happens.

Since the beginning of time there have been good teachers and bad teachers. Good teachers facilitated the knowledge transfer, while bad teachers inhibited that same natural process.

If you give a bad teacher ANY technology you get little in return. If you give a great teacher no technology you get students who are learning. So the issue is not what toys are on the ASTD floor, but what makes a great teacher and how do I become one? Until we focus on that - as well as what makes a great student - the rest is just a diverting magic trick. And who cares what we call ourselves or what titles our business cards reclaim.

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