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Technology in the Classroom. Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

| 24 March 2015 | Sebastian Feller


A life without technology. Sounds a bit like a fairy tale or ancient history, doesnít it? Once upon a time, people had no computers, no smart phones or smart watches. Students learned from text books, using pen and paper.

Well, not anymore. Technology is on a steady rise, veining through every facet of our modern lives. We have online banking, online shopping, online job searches, online travel agencies, online tax voicing, online this and online that. And, of course, there is a whole industry of online learning. There are MOOCs, online tutorials, and interactive programming classes, and trillions of other things to do online. You name it.
One scary thing about technology: kids love it.  (Or is this a blessing?) Today classrooms are stuffed with "cool" toys like tablet computers, interactive whiteboards, projectors, laptops, and the like. The promise by those who sell all that stuff: your child will excel in school and later on in life. Awesome, you may think, letís do this. Letís equip every classroom with cute gadgets to turn our kids into super smart learners.  Just like that.

Hold on a second. This makes me think: how come not every kid with a soccer ball and a pair of solid soccer cleats turns into a pro-soccer player? And how come I havenít turned out a superhero electrical engineer? In my younger years I was fascinated with electricity experimentation sets, playing around with the latest electricity experimentation kit non-stop for hours. Well, I guess there is more to excelling at something than simply having the latest equipment at the ready.

Together with my colleague Ilker Yengin, I set out to understand what it takes to improve teaching and learning through technology.  One of the main questions we had was: what is actually needed besides the educational technology in order to boost learning? Over this question, we sparked a discussion with colleagues from all around the world, exchanging our experiences and viewpoints. We talked to people from academia, schools, businesses and government organizations and eventually edited the book Educating in Dialog. Constructing Meaning and Building Knowledge with Dialogic Technology (2014). The book gives a selection of contributions to the debate on educational technology and how it is and should be used for teaching and learning. You will notice (at least thatís what I hope) that many central ideas in the book are not about technology per se but touch on the pedagogy behind it. Personally, I believe that the pedagogical side of things has been neglected for too long. As a consequence, we are facing now a huge gap between the technology readily available and the knowledge people possess on how to use it meaningfully.

This situation opens up new areas in educational research. I am excited about what is going to happen here! One thing is for sure: nothing will be the same anymore.

Comments: fellers(a)ihpc.a-star.edu.sg

Tags: educational technology, technology, pedagogy, educating in dialogue, educational research

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