Education experts urge teachers to maintain balance, practice caution

It becomes integral to our daily lives, useful both at home and at work, so it’s no surprise that it’s made its way into the classroom too.
Technology, from something as simple as a dictionary application on a cellphone to slightly more advanced computer software, can be used in the classroom as an important educational tool.
While this can have a positive effect on pupils and enhance their learning, education experts have warned of the pitfalls which come with this.
Aaron Koopman, head of programme at the faculty of commerce at The Independent Institute of Education in Sandton, said negative results could include slowing the development of social and collaborative skills, an addiction to technology and an opportunity to access inappropriate material online.
According to Koopman, it’s important for teachers to practise caution when it comes to technology use, particularly at school level as this is where habits of lifelong learning are adopted and abandoned.
“One of the most important areas of risk is where technology affects the development of social and collaborative skills.
“While there are ways in which technology can be used, such as online engagement with people on another continent, it is also critical to promote collaboration, which means teachers must ensure that the face-to-face engagement skills of young pupils are developed,” Koopman said.
“Another area of concern is where it effectively replaces teachers, similar to home environments where screens become babysitters.
“It is also problematic when technology is passive, for instance e-books cannot be annotated,” he said.
Siyabulela Fobosi, education researcher at the Public Services Accountability Monitor in Grahamstown, said although the use of technology in classrooms was a good move, it was a challenge for rural schools.
“A critical question to think about going forward is whether the pupils and teachers in both rural and urban contexts are equally prepared to embrace the use of technology in classrooms.
“Rural schools face challenges of poor basic infrastructure, few material resources and no electricity in some places,” he said.
Adding to this is education expert Dr Bukiwe Mbilini-Kuze, circuit manager at the Amathole West education district, who warned that technology should not completely replace live teachers.
Koopman concluded the most effective way to use technology is to support, extend, reinforce and enhance teaching.
Most effectively used to support, extend, reinforce and enhance teaching