Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yet another newspaper article saying technology will change education

Last Friday's Irish Times featured an article by Ian Campbell - Moving to transform the educational environment with the latest technology. Campbell writes that "THE ROLE of technology in the classroom will be a hot topic for the Government in 2012", and he quotes liberally from Steven Duggan who is a former teacher and is now worldwide education strategy manager for Microsoft. Duggan declares that the classroom is “Like teaching a blacksmith skills in the age of the car...it’s 100 years out of date". 

Image link to Lee Hughes's blog.
Every now and again somebody pops up with the idea that technology can transform education. Duggan claims that "the quality of an education system will never exceed the quality of the teaching". Partly true I agree, but he neglects the student's own ability to learn with this statement. What about on-the-job learning, mentoring, coaching, and going to the library as well as using virtual learning environments. Duggan's statement is 100 years out of date - I exaggerate not!

Duggan does make an interesting comment about class size (presumably in second-level education): "In terms of educational performance, we see that most successful countries focus on professional development over classroom size. The classes may be bigger but, if pupils have the best teachers in front of them, it doesn’t matter". I like this focus on professional development - we could learn a lot from this in Ireland.

People need to get a grip - please, no more articles about how technology will change education. It already has changed education for over 40 years! My French teacher in Roscrea (John Shanahan) used a tape deck and photographic slides to teach us French - not a blackboard or computer in sight. This was in 1972. Computer-Based Training (CBT) has been around since the 1980s (I know - because I worked as a CBT developer in 1989). We are still struggling with the best way to use it.


  1. I have to agree about Mr Shanahan. I still have a smattering of French spoken & aural thanks to those lessons. Pity Gailge wasn't taught in the same way.

  2. I have to disagree with classroom size, I found that my class of 30 was very hard to teach and control if you weren't strict. Making it even bigger will just make you lose the attention of even more students.

  3. You might like to hear John Shanahan give an account (Spetmeber 2012) of how the Voix et Images teaching came into the classroom in 1967. You can listen to him below on Youtube There is no picture because of no lighting. Worht two minutes though