In the Australian Broadcasting Corporation podcast, Future Tense: 21st Century Education, (Davies, 2016) Greg Whitby, the Director of Catholic Education in Western Sydney, claims that the focus on technology is a “waste of time”. He says, “If you focus on the technology, you ignore the central problem and the central issue.” Whitby is making the point that the focus of integrating technology should not be on the technology per se but on applications and how they can improve teaching and learning.
The themes of the podcast can be summarised by the following comments by the interviewer, Antony Funnell, “Technology doesn’t educate people, people educate people,” and, “It’s a matter of balance.” Interviewees emphasise the point made by Fennell that it is important not be seduced by the glitter of the gadget but to remain focused on delivering quality education.
Funnell’s interview of Paul Callaghan, the Director of The Free Play Independent Games Festival was particularly interesting. Callahan uses the neologism, gamification, to describe how learning opportunities can be structured as games that facilitate cognitive learning. Callaghan makes the point however that there are limits to which learning can be structured as games; important life skills such as resilience may not be able to be successfully learnt using games.
The podcast leaves little doubt about the challenge and complexity of integrating a vast array of technologies and applications to improve learning outcomes including teacher training. Teachers will undoubtedly continue to play a key role in education as posited by Fennell but their role will change as technology and applications become increasingly pervasive. In this respect I am drawn to what Roblyer & Doering (2016, p.36) describe as the switch to “learning to learn” skills and the three forms of literacy that are thread through all 21st century learning: technological literacy, information literacy and visual literacy.
Davies, A. (Producer). (2016, August 19). Future Tense: 21st Century Education [Podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/21st-century-education/419770#transcript
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A.H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching: Sixth Edition. Essex, UK: Pearson Education.