One simple observation:
If an educator finds it difficult or time consuming to use a technology to deliver education then logically the student will suffer a similar experience in receiving the education experience.
Sometimes things seem to move very slowly in education circles. It can feel like the rest of the world is moving on with technology while education organisations are waiting for the technology to be made available in their organisations.
This can appear as though teachers or trainers are not able to deliver adequately because they don’t have all the technological tools that they are told that they need and may not all have the expertise to use those tools.
The focus has often been, ‘we need to get with the program’. We need to integrate technology with our students otherwise they will be left behind.
The fact is, many students already know how to use the technology, and they use it every day. There isn’t a lot for them to learn about what it can do and how to use it to communicate. They are already technologically literate.
378,000 iPhones are sold per day while 371,000 babies are born per day.
What we want to do with online education is to engage students in their course by making online content fun and appealing. We want students to find the education experience exciting because of the way it is presented, it has cool ‘things’ you can click on and lots of ‘interactive’ components.
To some extent, some even think that online education is designed to allow students to learn without a teacher or with very little teacher contact and that the other students interaction online will make it successful.
What if we have it the wrong way round?
What if how interactive the technology is or how it integrates with other systems or how a student can logon, read or watch their training materials anytime isn’t what the students really need?
Yes – of course I do and I thrive on seeing students learn from the technology that I work with.
But what if we looked at it a different way.
Let’s ask the basic question.
What is it that a student really wants?
The student wants a few things.
- To learn
- To gain a qualification,
- To be educated
- and ultimately to get a job in a career that they love and enjoy.
But wait, what about the teachers, educators and lecturers. Didn’t they study so that they could have a career that they love and enjoy?
What if we designed education technology so that the educators loved to use it? If the teacher enjoys using it, could it affect the student’s response to the teacher?
Could educators then spend more time interacting with their online students and less time ‘trying’ to get the technology to work for them?
The end result could be:
- More time to spend with students
- More time communicating and enjoying the education experience
- Less time trying to implement technology
- Less time making and re-purposing educational content
- Students should have the opportunity to have more contact with their teacher
- Students that will ultimately be more passionate about their area of study because they get to experience that passion from their teacher/educator
Although we can theoretically learn the majority of our knowledge from reading, watching videos and researching online, the fact is that real experience presented by someone that knows what they are doing and has been there before is far more valuable than content. And even more valuable if they have the time to interact with you and ask questions.
Yes – knowledge is king. But knowing how to implement that knowledge is far more valuable. This is where the educator is the crucial part of the experience.
For example, I spent two hours talking with Slim Dusty’s guitarist last year about the state of the Australian music industry and how it got to where it is now. What I discovered from that conversation was far more valuable than the last three books I read on the music industry.
Nothing is more important than real people that deliver real education and how they interface with their students.
Now our responsibility as education technology experts is to make technology that enables educators to deliver their vast experience so that students that are paying many thousands of dollars for an education are not only getting their money worth but are engaging with the teachers in the most effective and efficient way.
How do we do this – not by making new technology?
We do this by becoming smarter with how we ‘use’ the technology.
One simple observation: If an educator finds it difficult or time consuming to use a technology to deliver education then logically the student will suffer a similar experience in receiving the education experience.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
To be continued…
Mobilestatistics.com,. (2015). Mobile Statistics – Stats on the mobile Smartphone and App Market. Retrieved 16 April 2015, from http://www.mobilestatistics.com/
Chris Richter is an online education technology expert. Chris has over 20 years experience developing online content and online applications for the education sector in Australian and Europe. Chris specialises in online interactive educational development and is a speaker at education technology conferences.