Many children now start school technologically literate. They can use a keyboard and are familiar with tablet technology and smartphones. As educators we have to ask: What effect does this interactivity have on teaching and learning?
There is no question that technology engages students but what they learn using that technology and how they learn still depends on the craft and skills of the teacher.
I canvassed issues about technology and pedagogy today at the FutureSchools Expo in Sydney.
Pedagogy in the 21st century has to put the emphasis on the 4Cs – collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication. In our fast-changing world, more of the same knowledge and skills will not address the challenges of the future.
Our education system must equip young people with the capacity to think, solve problems and respond to and thrive within a changing society.
Our challenge as educators is to ensure quality pedagogy works within the world of contemporary students and to keep upskilling our teachers to meet these needs.
With the avalanche of information available online, the teacher is now more the facilitator of learning than the holder of all knowledge.
The teacher poses the questions, provides the tools and research methods, as well as delivering subject content and guidance for problem-solving in a collaborative environment. It is an evolution in teaching practice that offers exciting possibilities.
It's important that we value the knowledge that students acquire outside of school and use those experiences to make learning relevant.
Our challenge is not just to harness the potential technology can offer to support quality pedagogy, but to use technology to extend learning opportunities and curriculum breadth for all students.
Technology has allowed us, for example, to establish our first virtual school with Aurora College, which is linking students in rural and remote NSW to specialist teachers, extending curriculum options and providing new opportunities for gifted and talented students.
Technology is a wonderful enabler for learning and innovation, but great teachers still need to have high expectations for every student, a deep understanding of their subject content and a capacity to inspire and motivate students, just as they have done in previous generations.