My Thanks To …
My thanks go to Santtu Toivonen (Twitter: @touqo) for prompting this post.
Santtu tweeted “Any evidence or studies that the younger generation of teachers is more willing to adapt their teaching to fit new technologies? #edchat” which generated a fairly long exchange of tweets between him and me exploring a number of ideas, this helping me to clarify my own thoughts.
I will assume that all readers are familiar with the phenomenon that the ability to learn decreases with age. I will not explore this point further.
I will however mention an owner of a training organisation, in her 70s, who understands new technology very rapidly, and a lecturer in his mid-30s for whom using technology is somewhat difficult.
What I Learned
As a teacher, I will use the technology that is available, best suited to the learners’ needs, and which I feel I can use effectively. At one extreme, this could be two rocks to sit on, a stretch of sand between them, and a stick to draw with. (Who knows, I may well do this one day.) At the other extreme, it could be a mobile device that became available to the public earlier that day. I am fortunate: because of my own background in Information Technology, I find new technology particularly easy to use. To give a comparable example from the automotive industry, I would like to think that when gas-powered cars first became widespread, teachers would be very comfortable with the changes in the engine.
Different people have different aptitudes for different things: some find information technology very easy, while others can find it impenetrable. Again by way of offering two extremes, I realised that I had left my teacher behind when it came to learning how to program a computer about half-way through the course – this was back in 1970. At the other extreme, I still meet local teenagers who dread such classes – this could be due in part to the teacher, but having worked briefly with such teenagers they seem to lack the aptitude for the subject. This manifests itself in an inability to follow a set of steps in the order given, for example.
Looking into my crystal ball, I see more changes in degree over the next decade, rather than any changes in kind. The rapid transition from mobile phones to smart phones is a change in kind, but adding more power to smart phones is merely a change in degree: the crest of the Information Revolution is now behind us.
My guess is that tomorrow’s teachers will use the technologies with which they feel comfortable, and they will tend towards those subjects for which they have an aptitude.