To Tech or Not to Tech (Part 2) ……

Wednesday, September 20, 5:00 p. m. As the class starts, my thoughts drift towards the  realization of how important it is to understand the art of instruction before we step out to teach or introduce technology as a learning aid in order to avoid unnecessary expenses.

As our professor skims through last week’s slides for a bit of revision, I find myself thinking about the online course which I need to start working on immediately. Will it will be interesting to learn how and if artificial intelligence can aid learning?

This week’s lesson is focused on understanding why policy is important and what kind of constraints are there in their implementation. This makes me wonder that even if we introduce technological interventions, will they be useful in Pakistan,policy considering the dismal state of affairs in Pakistan regarding the educational landscape and Pakistan’s history of lack of implementation of policies?

It’s not hard to understand why a teacher must be trained to apply teaching methods. After all, developed countries with exquisite educational systems like Finland spend loads of resources on teacher development. This shows how much impact a quality teacher has, not to forget the impact of quality resources designed according to proper methods. This means the book I was trying to write was seriously lacking in some crucial areas! This is what happens when you try to attempt something without proper knowledge. By the end of the course, I will, hopefully, be in the position to attempt this after gaining proper knowledge. I can divide the chapters according to pedagogical stages and get feedback from an expert. Doing something as crucial as writing a book without proper background knowledge of how learning takes place was audacious in the first place.

Incorporating technology as a learning aid needs to be justified! Whenever I used to see an educational app, appI would be like, this is so cool! Now when I see an app I ask myself, “Was it necessary”? I mean my daughter who went to Montessori school is doing just as fine my son in math, who is attending a school where technology is being incorporated at pre-primary and primary levels. This leads to the question: Is there an age for technology incorporation? After all, platforms like Minecraft do offer extremely creative learning solutions – for older kids. I guess I would need to be convinced more to become a tech-enthusiast. Assigned readings would be a great place to start with the research!

After going through the importance of the development of policies, there was a class activity where we had to search policies regarding technology integration in schools in Pakistan. The policies which we found were great; however, a general observation reveals that there is an alarming lack of implementation of these policies. This leads us to a serious question: Is Pakistan ready for technology in the first place? What are the challenges in teaching and learning anyway?

Before I started this course, my answer for the first question would have been a resounding YES! However, I have now come to realize that we technology is simply a delivery mode. We shouldn’t be using technology just for the sake of it. We have to base our choices on pedagogical requirements as opposed to basing them on technological methods of delivery. This poses an important query: Is integrating technology the core issue of Pakistani education or there are more underlying issues?

The Pakistani education sector is plagued with issues. From poorly trained teachers, to lack of proper pedagogical understanding, Pakistan has to work on the base of education first. The purpose of introducing technology in the classrooms is to possibly work on enhancing learning. But for that certain learning and teaching techniques must be in effect in the first place. But that’s not true for the Pakistani landscape. Teachers need to be trained first and foremost on “how learning takes place”. Because introducing technology without this prior understanding will be like cutting a teacup with a butcher knife! It will result in an ineffective use of technology, which might hinder learning or prove to be a complete waste of resources.

Then certain environmental factors need to be taken into consideration as well. Most of the people in Pakistan cannot even afford internet. They might as well be transported back in time if technology takes over as a primary mode of instruction delivery. Efforts must be made at government level to ensure availability of internet in all areas of Pakistan (Jones, 2013).

Added to that, English is the dominant language of the internet. About 80% of the content on the internet is in English. On the surface of it, this does not translate into good news for Pakistan (Jones, 2013).

However, good efforts have been made by certain organizations to improve this situation. An example of this is “Time for English”, which was launched in several schools in Islamabad and it helped to improve the level of English in many schools. Ventures like these can significantly improve chances of using technology for learning purposes (Ilm Ideas, 2016).

In essence, to introduce technology in Pakistan it has to be decided whether it is a priority concern as compared to other issues in the education sector. If we are to introduce it, then certain pedagogical concerns have to be addressed first in order to ensure effective use of technology and to avoid wastage of resources. Without these basic criteria in place, learning will generally serve to hinder learning in Pakistan.

Note: Visit this link to find out more about some of the more popular educational apps.

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