UK teachers struggle to find right place for classroom tech

Should classrooms exploit the latest technology - and teachers undergo the learning curves - or be a citadel of peace in a world of blinking, beeping, talking devices.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

From line drawings in textbooks to interactive white boards, educators have been trying innovative ways to get students' attention for years. But some teachers say all this technology introduced into classrooms just distracts from the real job of teaching, reports the BBC.

If their districts can afford it, teachers have a plethora of new teaching tools to choose from——computer projectors, interactive white boards, televisions, DVD players and software galore--but teachers are of mixed minds on whether technology hinders or helps them in the classroom.

The obvious disadvantage for teachers is that with the new technology comes a learning curve on how to operate it as well as how to profitably integrate it into the classroom.

"There's always this awful thing when you have planned that lesson on the (interactive white board) and something goes wrong because there is something wrong with the system.

"You either have to be extremely organised and plan two lessons - one on paper and one on the white board - or you have to depend on all your resourcefulness as a teacher to pull something out of your hat," said Elizabeth Baker, a teacher from a school in west London.

Drama teacher Steve Powter thinks the new technology, especially the interactive white boards, are engaging students.

"Rather than sitting behind desks and looking at a piece of paper, the pupils can play with thing on screen and move things around. The kids are used to it. They walk into a room and if the white board has something written on it they follow it instantly."

Some teachers use the white board as glorified overhead projector, but Powter says in the right hands it can save lots of preparation time.

It is clear that there is a learning curve for teachers. Stuart Coe, director of mobile learning software company Maroonsoft, Powter says that the white boards can be daunting for teachers at first but eventually they will get used to it. Coe's company has responded by creating digital notetaking software for IWBs, called Lessonpad, that makes using white boards simpler.

Other teachers feel that schools shouldn't try to compete with all the technology that kids have outside of school and focus more on the basics.

"Children's worlds are so electronic already - schools should be a relative place of peace away from all those electronic goods," commented Alyson, a teacher in training who does not wish to be named for fear of damaging her career prospects.

Editorial standards