Third alternative for teachers to utilize technology?

I am writing this blog after attending the conference “Preparing World Class Teachers Through Online Education : The Future is Now!” is held on April 20 and 21st, 2012 at Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore. It was my first hand experience to interact with a huge set of teachers and educators. Before the conference, I was questioning that by attending the conference, what is the value provided by me/received by me?.

The conference was conducted superb and more than 300 delegates attended the conference. Foe me this was the first time I met this many number of teachers. There were a lot of teachers who were aware of technology. Guru presented mobisir learning from the field in the conference and challenge for online learning in India and a few teachers came to discuss with us how it works and I installed our mobile app on few of their mobiles and they were happy. I was privileged to meet Dr.Hema Ramanathan in conference.

I attended paper presentation sessions. Teachers were presenting usage of EDUSAT or usage of moodle or usage of mobile for learning. Most of the sessions looked theoretical and they were missing the implementation. As most of the sessions were abstract sessions, I got over enthusiastic and asked them whether they have implemented the technology in their organizations and the results obtained. After talking to a few of them, I realized that they are trying to learn about technology by searching on the web/ magazines. This was a good starting point and it was unfair that I expect them to implement technologies. Let me do unfair comparison of teacher with a software professional to see how things are different for the teacher.

  • Learn by action: Teachers used to perform offline tutoring earlier. when online tutoring became available, they happily migrated to the same and added with extra money. so teachers are waiting for existing methods made available through the use of technology in the simplest form with flexibility and space to commit errors. A software professional uses benefits of online learning by attending webcasts, webcasts and even attends Bangalore sessions through online webcasts. For a lot of paid conferences, the sessions are posted online, post the session and for no charge, he can attend and learn recorded sessions.
  • Flexibility to learn Teachers cannot have planned leave to learn new education concepts or new technologies, during the day. Even after gaining theoretical knowledge, teachers have limited opportunity to become aware of where new concepts are effectively implemented and where not. A software professional have a flexible job that allows me to attend trainings, extend work hours, attend a late night webcast and go to work late the next day. What would they do if software professional have dependents waiting for them the whole day? .
  • Awareness to technology Only few teachers are involved with software implementation in their institutions. That is person who is provided with leave grant or permission grant to work on software implementation. This makes simpler tasks for IT professional a complex tasks for teachers. For example, discussion forum usage is complex for teachers.

Concluding, I do not have answers to question of my blog. They have expanded more. How will we be able to take technology to teachers when they do not have a formal awareness of using technology for their own benefit?. I see two alternatives

  • Train them to make use of technology for education.
  • Provide them education through technology can come with his own idea of how to use technology effectively.

Is there a third alternative for teachers?