The problem with #edtech debates

“Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.” — Pseudo intellectual guff

Listen to his royal highness Tom Bennett bad-mouthing iPads in his likeable Scottish lilt. Hear the knowledgeable David Didau proclaiming confidently that the only tech we could ever possibly need in our classrooms is — at a push — a visualiser. Read the always thought-provoking Martin Robinson inveigling you eloquently into turning off everything that can be turned off. Or follow the increasing number of trendy lesser spotted twittering trads who profess 140 characters at a time that great teaching and effective use of technology in teaching are somehow two separate things.

It’s easy to conclude, isn’t it, that it has become almost faddish to espouse anti tech sentiments of late. As if the more vociferously anti tech one is, the greater expertise in education one is seemingly able to demonstrate.

The debate (from dis- battere, Latin for fighting the opposite) around the use of technology in education is often reduced to binary nonsense. One’s either a happy-clappy, app-smashing, iPad-wielding technology zealot or a technology-eschewing, chalk-wielding, iPad-smashing Luddite. If, like me, you can see opportunities as well as the challenges and are neither in one extreme nor the other, this debate is probably boring you to tears and has been for some time.

Some folks ‘addicted’ to newspapers

Nevertheless, think what you may, this debate is worth having. You see, to suggest that technology changes everything is just as daft as to suggest that it changes nothing. So it is only by having this debate that we expose the unreasonableness of dogma and the foolishness of the extreme.

Some folks ‘alone together’

But let’s make it an informed, intelligent debate, devoid of pseudo intellectual guff whenever possible. Yes, children still need to learn stuff despite Google. No, the internet is not making us stupid. Yes, digital natives are a myth. No, social media does not cause us to be ‘alone together’. Yes, we use a lot of technology. No, relying on technology (as we rely on electricity or public transport) is not an ‘addiction’. Yes, great teaching doesn’t require technology. But great teachers don’t renounce it either. Yes, interactive whiteboards are expensive and often under-utilised. Yet I would like to keep mine, thanks. Yes, iPads can be a distraction. But no, they don’t have to be.

Technology isn’t always the solution, but isn’t the problem either. Let’s have an informed debate. Over to you.