Description of an Experience
Today I read an article titled ‘The Transformation of Learning with Technology’ (Bush & Mott, 2009). In this article Bush and Mott argue that teachers are failing to use technology to transform teaching and learning. Despite predictions of “a significant transformation of teaching and learning that would be facilitated by technology” (p. 3), technology implementations in education have consistently failed to transform teaching and learning. These visions of dramatic learning improvement have been largely unrealized, despite the passage of four decades. Bush and Mott assert, “this failure stems from a penchant to implement technology in ways that automate the past” (p. 3). In automating the past, teachers are using technology to replace traditional forms of teaching and learning, instead of using technology to transform teaching and learning to create a new future for students. Bush and Mott thus importantly question, “Why hasn’t technology dramatically improved learning? We’re left to ask, metaphorically speaking, ‘Dude, where’s my flying car?’” (p. 3). The technology-driven transformation of education seems tantalizingly just out of reach.
This article has reaffirmed my understanding of the RAT Framework and the importance of using ICTs to transform teaching and learning. This article, in conjunction with the RAT Framework, has helped me to evaluate my use of ICTs in the classroom and has made me aware of the tendency to use ICTs to automate or replace traditional ways of teaching and learning. For example, whilst on professional experience placement I frequently used PowerPoint to present information to students. This use of ICT was more efficient than writing information on the whiteboard but it did not lead to transformed teaching and learning. I also frequently asked the students to present their responses to writing tasks using Microsoft Word. This use of ICT merely replaced students writing their responses in their workbooks. In accordance with the RAT Framework, I have been using ICT in the classroom to replace traditional ways of teaching and learning rather than to transform teaching and learning.
Bush and Mott state, “our cities’ skies are not filled with airborne cars, and human beings continue to learn in about the same ways they did forty years ago” (p. 6). Many teachers (including myself) are using technology to maintain existing practices rather than to ‘revolutionize’ the way they teach their students. Traditional forms of teaching such as direct instruction and lecturing still account for more than half of all teaching practices. These traditional forms of teaching seem to be relatively untouched by the enormous investment in technologies in schools. Rather, “new technologies have become peripheral to the daily routines of teaching and learning” (p. 6). This is highlighted in the examples from my professional experience placement, as I used PowerPoint to facilitate my direct instruction and Microsoft Word was peripheral to the students’ writing task. Bush and Mott argue that the vast majority of educational technology implementations focus on making things more effective and efficient for teachers and schools, and not necessarily on improving outcomes for students.
It is important that teachers have an understanding of the RAT Framework in order to evaluate their use of ICTs in the classroom and whether these ICTs are functioning as replacement or transformation. The aim is not to replace traditional forms of teaching and learning with ICTs. Rather, the aim is to use ICTs to transform teaching and learning and to create new ways of teaching and learning, in order to improve learning outcomes for students.
Bush, M. D., & Mott, J. D. (2009). The transformation of learning with technology. Educational Technology, 49(2), 3–20. Retrieved from http://www.jonmott.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/et-bushmott.pdf