Teaching with technology – only as good as the user

Teaching with technology is like exercising with a heart rate monitor.

A heart rate monitor is a very useful bit of high tech kit. If you are training in cardiovascular exercise it can be great, but only if you know how to use it. (And by use it I mean more than simply strap on the chest strap and press the appropriate button on the watch). Simply wearing a heart rate monitor doesn’t improve the efficacy of your exercise program. You have to watch the feedback and plan your sessions. A heart rate monitor is also not a useful tool if you are into yoga or weight training. And finally, just because you own a heart rate monitor and occasionally use it doesn’t make you physically fit – you actually have to lever yourself off the couch and get moving.

So too, with teaching, just because you use technology in your teaching doesn’t mean that your students are learning any better. If the correct tool is used effectively, it can help learning, but it doesn’t do the job for you or your students! There is also no magic bullet, a one size fits all tech solution which can be applied to all courses (or even all science courses). It really depends on what the challenges are and how they can be addressed.

At the end of day learning is still hard work, there is no short cut. Just as physical fitness requires effort. Using technology may make you feel ‘with it’, and it fits in with your style of teaching it is probably a good thing, as congruency between your personality and teaching style improves the experience for everyone. But be careful not to equate the feel good factor and actual learning.


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