3 min read

"Technology at the core"

Technology drives South Korean 'smart' schools.

Not much mention of learning in this video. Instead it's all about the technology. Because that's what makes a school "smart". Apparently. I know it's the job of the media to focus on the shiny. I'm not even that bothered about the hints of 'Big Brother", or the counting of calories in school lunches.

But I was a little worried.

Because if you look closely and pay attention to the model of learning, and imagine that the shiny tablets are just a normal tablet made out of paper, and that the large MS Windows powered touchscreen is just a black board, it demonstrates the model of learning that exists in behind all of the hi-tech, 'smart' shiny on display. A model that's largely untouched over the last 100 years. In which a person stands up the front and tells a bunch of other folk what's important.

And this reality is accepted around the planet, because this model of learning fits with people's idea of what good learning is - because that's what they had. And so they see their vision of school and learning, understand it and feel affirmed. Most people also want the future to be bright and shiny, so that overlay of shiny technology, onto their existing model of learning makes perfect sense. As a result so does this video.

But this is a model of learning design, learning delivery and learning engagement that doesn't fit a an increasingly inter-connected world where students will need to be problem-solver, life-long learners and thinkers and creatively engaging with a whole host of issues, problems and people.


Everyone knows that.


Well, we in education profess to know that. We in education stand around and blather paragraphs like that - and feel positive about ourselves as educators and individuals engaged in professional pedagogically valid practice.

I mean c'mon right - all good teachers know it's not about the technology. Good learning is about good practise right? Technology is just a tool. Right?

But haven't we in education been seduced by the shiny as well? There was video projectors and IWBs, and then there was e-portfolios and online parent portals, and now we've got smartphones and iPads and tablets. And they've all been heralded as revolutions in learning. And we go to conferences and follow hashtags, and build wikis to share apps and howtos and FAQs - and we call it PD and educamps and tweetups.

It's meant to be a conversation about learning, but if we're really honest, we do get lost in the shiny technology.  We present our vision of the future, and pimp ourselves as futurist educators, with our devices and our hipster looks. We've done a really good job of justifying it to parents and ourselves, and we rolled that technology across the school landscape,  and oddly enough, we don't really pay much rigorous attention to the actual impact to learning, positive or negative. Mainly because deep down we know, it's really hard to go back, even if (just on the quiet) the school can't afford to maintain and provision 50 iPads around the school next year. So we find ways to move on to the next shiny technol.... oooh look... augmented reality.

So we can fool ourselves into feeling comfortable scoffing at this video - because that's not real learning, and we know it wouldn't happen in our place.

But the sad truth is this. This video happened because we let it happen. We've spent so much time talking about technology as the future of education, and having that as the starting point of the conversation, that we've forgotten that the unsexy, deep understanding of what teaching and learning is, doesn't actually require shiny technology.

It requires taking the time and making the effort to create personal, honest, focused relationships with young people. To show them. To teach them. To learn alongside them. To give them social skills, work skills, thinking skills. To model what it is to be a learner. To give them respect and a place to stand and be heard.

The saddest part in this video was hearing a teacher say that all of this technology now allowed the shy ones to speak up.

What does that say about us as a profession, and about our lack of understanding of our role in the classroom?

What's at the core of who we are?

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Continue by Tim Kong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.