If you feel that teachers will become redundant anytime in the near future, the following factors might compel you to think otherwise:
- Technology cannot make a kid social - For a preschooler, learning the English alphabet and words from the World Wide Web or mobile storytelling apps for kids is certainly a possibility. However, on the flipside, staying preoccupied with gadgets and gizmos for hours on end can rob a young child of his/her basic social interaction skills. Let alone making friends, (s)he might face problems in properly communicating with parents and relatives. In your kid’s formative years, a caring human touch and guidance is incredibly important.
- Technology cannot gauge individual student capabilities - Powerpoint presentations and video classes have become integral parts of modern-day education. In the absence of a capable teacher guiding students through the slides/presentations, there is no way of ensuring whether every learner has been able to glean the maximum value out of these sessions. The learning capacities of all students are not the same, and teachers are the ones who can make sure that no one lags behind.
- Technology enhances the need for tutors - Far from emerging as their substitute, tools for education technology (most of them, at least) increase the need for knowledgeable, tech-savvy teachers at the helm. At schools and colleges, there has to be human trainers to familiarize students with online catalogs, use of response pads, ways to use interactive keyboards, and even how to access the internet. At home too, parents (doubling up as teachers) need to show their wards how the latter should use mobile apps for kids, gaming machines, and the like. Without teachers, technology is nothing but an empty machine.
- What’s suitable for kids? - There is no doubt that technology helps in bringing a wealth of information right at the fingertips of students - but is all such information and visual content suitable for impressionable minds? Just think about the numerous adult websites, gambling portals, fraudulent in-app purchase options in apparently ‘cool’ iPhone apps for kids - and you will get the picture. Only a human guide can determine the sort of information that a kid should access from the web or from mobile apps.
- Technology cannot make up for a bad teacher - Cutting-edge technology can process examination results quicker than ever before, but it can’t raise the examination marks of your kid. If a teacher is not skilled/sincere enough, (s)he won’t be able to use the technology on hand properly - and neither would students be able to resolve their queries satisfactorily from him/her. If a teacher is of inferior quality, availability of the latest education technology is far from being good compensation.
- Technology can become the focus and not the medium - Knowledge-sharing from teachers to students is meant to be helped along by projectors, PPT slides, iPhones and iPads, and other commonly-used gadgets in the field of education. However, many students often make the mistake of assuming that learning how to use these gizmos is what their final academic goal is all about. Teaching has been, is, and will forever be about gaining knowledge on different subjects, and technology should never be treated as anything more than a medium for it.
- Technology lacks compassion and understanding - No matter how interactive and user-friendly an educational app for kids might be - children cannot confide with them about their personal difficulties. If a little boy/girl is in some mental strife (due to family problems, a big fat bully in class, or any other reason), a counselor with lots of empathy is what (s)he requires - not a silent, mechanical robot. A successful teacher is not one who only gives great lectures in class - that person also needs to have a feel of the psyche of each of the students.
- Availability of technology - While the spread of education technology over the years across the globe has been impressive - the day when every student from all over the world has access to homogeneous technological aid is still way off. Let alone the developing, third-world countries - even in the US and the UK, it is (as yet) not possible to ensure that all academic institutions have the same gadgets and devices, and expert personnel to use them. There are many renowned schools and colleges, where human guidance is the only thing that guides along students.
- A glitch in technology should not mean a break in education - Internet servers can be down, mobile learning apps for kids can get virus-infected, and projector machines might not be available for a couple of weeks. None of these rather common incidents should result in an unforeseen break in academic sessions, provided that there are qualified teachers leading the classes. A professional, well-trained educator would always find ways to keep students engaged in a worthwhile manner - even in the absence of any technological aid.
- Technology cannot inspire students - While a sincere, learned teacher most certainly can. Apart from parents at home, teachers at schools/colleges often serve as the role models for young children - someone whose example they can follow. The maximum that a computer can do is to help people find inspiring quotes. No form of technology can bolster the motivation levels of your kid, in case (s)he is feeling bogged down. A teacher lends focus to a kids’ learning activities.
It has been projected that, by the end of next year, nearly 1.8 million new teachers would be required - only for primary schools across the globe. This, in turn, highlights the fact that technology (although a valuable aid) is not being considered as a substitute of human beings. Education technology has certainly become necessary for present-day students, but only tools and gadgets are not sufficient for their development. Teachers are not going anywhere...at least not in the foreseeable future!
Author’s Bio: Ross Smythe is the chief concept developer at Teknowledge Mobile Studio in India. He often writes on the web, on various topics related to education technology.