Educators NZ - Beware of tech for tech's sake warns education lecturer

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Beware of tech for tech's sake warns education lecturer

Senior lecturer in educational technology Dr Michael Cowling warns that technology must support learning to be effective. Otherwise, it is a waste of time. 

The Central Queensland University lecturer says pedagogy must come before technology. 

"The technology we introduce must serve a purpose and that purpose must be to enhance learning through improving pedagogy."

Cowling is not an enemy of technology, in fact he has a background in technology and a love of computers. He says there just needs to be a focus on technology improving learning, not simply learning new technologies. 

"My students love technology, but even in my classes I've realised that technology for technology's sake is a waste of time.

"Asking students to use a laptop without scaffolding doesn't work, but if you gather them around an iPad and ask them to collaborate on a diagram, then you are serving both pedagogy and their love of technology."

Cowling recently returned from speaking at the FutureSchools 2017 conference where he outlined how to use the influx of new technologies effectively. He spoke about a project in conjunction with Bond University where 3D printing and AR were used to teach distance paramedic students.

"For our paramedic students, the key was to give them tools to help them learn skills more effectively.

"Those tools turned out to be augmented reality simulation but, even in that project, the pedagogy came first."

The Australian lecturer's opinion aligns well with a recent speech from Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye who says the Government is ensuring technology is used in the best way possible. 

“Access is only part of the equation. Just as critical is how digital technologies are used in schools to enhance the learning experience.

"We’ve invested over $60 million to enhance professional learning and development."

Major investments in professional development and the Government's call to upskill teachers to wield this tech effectively, could well bring the level of awareness Dr Cowling is calling for. 

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