Toñi Legidos Martínez
Upper School Teacher and Digital Leader
It is evidence that, in today’s society, technology has colonized all aspects of life with amazing speed. That future that just a few years ago we saw so far away, went back in time and without even realizing it, it was already here and we have had to adapt, sometimes even without intending to.
Education has not been immune to this process, rather it has been one of the most affected fields and has had to reinvent itself. Both educational centres and teachers have had to retrain and, above all, keep up to date with everything that happens in the field of technology, with the aim of preparing our students in the most effective way possible for a professional -and personal – future, which probably hasn’t been invented yet. What a responsibility we teachers have!, as proposed by the European Commission in this Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027.
If a few years ago, just before the pandemic, we had told many teachers from all educational levels (there is no age distinction here) that, in just over two years, they would be working and teaching effectively with all the technological tools that they use daily, the answer would undoubtedly have been “don’t even dream of it”, “I am too old for that”. I know it firsthand. But today, technology and education are two concepts that can never be separated.
How do you find the balance between both of them? Is it inevitable an education subordinated to technology? Are computers, tablets, digital screens going to replace teachers, paper and pencil or books? Of course not. Today teachers are more important than ever so that all this technology is used effectively and productively.
“Their use offers surprise, novelty, innovation and vision which, together with the skills that they achieve naturally in the classroom, help to create new ways of learning”
Jorge Calvo, Is technology beneficial in the classroom?
When technology is used properly, there are numerous benefits for the teaching and learning process. To make things as simple as possible, I’ll point out three benefits for students.
- Commitment, motivation and responsibility with their own learning: access to digital learning tools gives students options that involve them naturally in the learning process. Students have greater independence and a more efficient workflow, with the ability to manage and share their assignments in one environment, accessible at any time.
- Collaboration: students can greatly benefit from developing their collaboration skills. By sharing a digital workspace, students can create and edit content together and exchange information and ideas. Teachers can help students to engage in expressive activities by allowing them to choose the communication tools they are most comfortable with and by encouraging students to work together to show what they know.
- Digital Portfolio: students can use the software chosen by the centre (for example, OneNote, Seesaw, Teams, etc.) to build a digital portfolio of their work. This gives students alternative ways of expression (audio, video, arts) and means to demonstrate their learning, which can lead to increased self-confidence. Teachers can easily access each student’s area to give digital feedback. Students have instant suggestions from the teacher on how to progress, they can leave answers for them or ask more questions to progress, which also helps to develop their communication skills. Digital portfolios allow students to reflect and demonstrate their growth. They can also remain available and easily accessible to students, parents and teachers.
What role do teachers represent in this new way of education? Especially when it comes to the possibility of offering personalized learning and individualized teaching.
Assuming that all students do not learn in the same way or at the same pace, technology makes possible for teachers to differentiate content and assignments, using a variety of teaching techniques and tools (enriched videos, interactive activities, video games). Digital and online resources can be selected and shared at an appropriate level for each student, ensuring that content is accessible and standards can be met.
Another interesting aspect is the possibility of offering formative assessment and digital feedback. Teachers can offer feedback in different formats. They can digitally annotate work, leave voice recordings, a video, or a link to additional online support, which personalizes the feedback and starts a formative conversation where the learner can respond in a similar way. This shows instructors that their feedback is being acted upon.
But we teachers still have perhaps the most important task in this whole process of digitizing education: selecting content and devices. The technological world offers an infinite market of tools and devices, and teachers and schools are in charge of choosing the ones that best suit our curricular objectives, and of course, the needs of our students.
Ultimately, all this could not be done without teachers, who must have good technological and continuous training, which must be offered from the schools so that we are up to date with new technologies.