Teaching Teachers with EdTech

Technology can help teachers keep up with their professional development

Being a teacher isn’t easy. If, like me, you have friends and family who have selflessly chosen to dedicate their lives to this noble pursuit, you probably also have a lot of respect and admiration for the profession, together with some residual guilt about the stuff you used to put them through as a child.

Talking about education technology can often be challenging for teachers, as they sometimes feel that disruptive innovations will do just that, disrupt the fragile balance upon which their enormous workloads rest. But if done right, then EdTech can truly be a teacher’s best friend, not only in helping teach students, but in their own professional development.

EdTech can often be challenging for teachers who feel it might be disruptive

That is the premise that prompted Angela Ney and Colin Rutherford to start Teachers Media in 2010, a blended learning platform targeted specifically at the teaching profession.

“When I was in school, we had floppy disks and an Apple Computer,” recalls Ney. “Things have got slightly more complicated since then, however, and there is so much out there that makes it extremely challenging for teachers to keep up with their professional development, on top of all the other demands on their time.”

By ‘blended learning’ they mean an approach which brings together the face-to-face and online communities relevant to teachers, together with formal accreditation processes and materials. It covers the mandatory Professional Development aspects while building in incentivisation and support that encourages deeper, long-term changes in behaviour.

New isn’t always better, and there isn’t just one right way of doing thing

After obtaining teacher accreditation for all of Kenya, they have set their sights on further global expansion, and are planning to establish in places like Myanmar, Cameroon , Paraguay , Pakistan this year. Teachers Media is supported by various governments, bilateral agreements and partnerships, working with ministries of education to help them reach their specific goals. “our market is teachers all around the world, and our model is to collaborate rather than compete with existing systems and providers. Universities, content providers, non-profits such as British Council and all manner of institutions bring important resources to the table, and it makes sense for these all to be available to teachers in one place.

Teachers remain the key influencers in kids lives and technology needs to support them in what they need to do

“New isn’t always better, and there isn’t just one right way of doing things. Simply training teachers to use technology doesn’t guarantee student achievement. Technology is a tool to enable and amplify great teaching, it is in no way a substitute for teachers. What we’re probably looking at in future is a building up of global teaching standards that will enable us to educate better global citizens. Teachers remain the key influencers in kids lives and we need to support them towards that.”

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