Yes it may seem technology is advancing faster than ever before but so what? We should’t have to fear the evolution of teaching in schools, scared that our teachers may be replaced by a robotic teaching substitute that knows everything (having been pre-programmed with Google) in the near future.
Like everything technology in schools has its advantages and disadvantages. We both can and cannot live without it depending on what we require from technology.
On a positive note, some of the advantages of tech as teaching tools would be that they are cost effective because they are much cheaper than hiring a teacher who will demand a pay rise, health insurance, housing allowance and such before going on strike. Sound familiar? Welcome to Zambia.
Technology in schools is also good because information can be disseminated at the touch of a screen or click of a button between the teachers themselves and the pupils.
Also, there is no need to build physical classrooms because lessons can be learnt online and even marked online, which is becoming a very common habit lately in most schools. Learning can be done whatever time the student wants to learn, compared to a teacher who has a fixed timetable and extra lessons would cost the student more money.
Looking at the disadvantages of technology, even with all these various gadgets and tools being created like the ZeduPad which make learning much easier for kids, there is no substitute for the experience and knowledge that teachers come with. Sometimes even the internet fails to fully cover some topics and rather than opening a hundred tabs on your computer browser trying to piece information together, a teacher would easily explain any concept to the students.
Secondly, there’s different kinds of students with different learning abilities hence the need for educational material to be suited to each one and teachers are far much better than technology in this area because they know the students personally. The internet will most likely give an explanation of things to suit everyone, but not everyone will grasp concepts like the next person.
This third disadvantage is the typical cry of any Zambian with a mobile device. BUNDLES. Internet data bundles have become so expensive for the average Zambian living on less than a dollar a day. It almost seems like data bundles are now tailored for middle class to high class people. The cheaper bundles offered by most service providers are not large enough to facilitate internet browsing for longer periods so by the time the bundle finishes, you wouldn’t even have found what you were looking for. Sad, isn’t it?
Lastly, the cost of the gadgets themselves. Not every teacher and student can afford them. Even though there are incentives in place now such as the Airtel Smartphone scheme, which is a concern seeing as they just hiked their data bundle prices, and not every student will own a gadget too especially in the rural areas so the devices with teachers will almost be pointless if not only acting as a teaching aid.
So you see, we can’t entirely wipe out teachers, even if it seems cheaper. They bring to life many subjects that seem lifeless on a mobile device or technological tools.
Are we seeing teachers wiped out anytime soon? We doubt it. Atleast not here in Zambia. Not in a very long while. Technology will still survive only as teaching toolkits, not as teachers. We can bet on it.