Tuesday, 12 April 2011

From the allergies of the blackboard chalk, to the radiation of interactive board: What has changed?

We all remember our first day in school with that huge board in black (blackboard) with the teacher coming in class with his chalk palette (white, blue, pink, green and yellow).....Years later the whiteboard was seen as a nice innovation where chalks had been replaced by less dusty markers of different colours. However, the whiteboard did not really kick off in schools in its early days due to the perceived high cost of markers.  From the blackboard to the whiteboard, nothing changed in the way of teaching rather than the educational technology was improved.

Then came the overhead projector, which saved the teacher from having to write on the boards, rather he would display things that are already written. This is a facility for the teacher. He could also display images/graphics which otherwise he would have had to draw these on the board or bring photos and pictures in classrooms. Again, the pedagogy has not changed, although the technology has improved and facilitated the work of teachers. Educational technology at the service of teachers in this way is great as it facilitates the teaching process, but every new technology is costly, and it has to be mastered, then implemented. Many of them never arrived in our primary school classrooms, the overhead projector for instance. The same logic of improvement applies, when the digital projector was invented and could work with the laptop. The teacher could now project multimedia in an easier way to enhance student understanding. 

Well, we argue that the interactive whiteboard does nothing more than being another piece of modern technology of the digital world that we are living in. What is the difference between the digital camera and an analogue camera? its fundamentally the technology but at the end of the day we have the picture. What has changed? The picture is obtained quasi-instantaneously (remember of the Polaroid camera?) but it is also conserved in digital format. 

Now the question is: If we have an interactive white board, does it mean our children will learn better? 

If we have the interactive white board, does it mean students with ADHD syndrome will improve in terms of attention, hyperactivity control and performance in the class?

If we have the interactive white board, how many students will we still be having in the class?

Will we be in a position to have one PC, laptop or tablet for each student to replace his copybook? What will happen when the ‘copybook’ of the student gets lost or broken?

Are we ready to invest in this technology for each and every classroom when the pace at which the technology gets obsolete is just unbelievable!! Think of IPAD - IPAD2 is already out - how many of us got the chance to even see a real IPAD 1 in front of us?

Technology is like digital games. We have not yet mastered one level of the game when the next version of it is already on the market....What needs to be changed is the pedagogy and traditional ways that teaching and learning has been going on and those methods that we are currently employing.  Those methods that we call teacher-centred are still at the heart of the educational process, and this has to change. We are equipping ourselves with better tools but we are working the same way. If the way of driving is not good, a better car will not make any difference unless it is K2000 which can drive on its own...unfortunately there is no such educational technology that can teach on its own.