Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teachers' concerns over online learning

While most non-educators find the use of educational technology appealing, several teachers - new and veterans - are hesitant to welcome the new tools into their classrooms. This may come as surprising to some, as blended learning was created to enable personalized instruction and to fix several frustrating aspects of school. However, out of the many common concerns that teachers have, researcher Thomas Arnett found three worth addressing:

  1. Several teachers find technology to be a distraction from the real work and real challenges of teaching. Arnett notes this is legitimate and important concern, and also notes that schools and districts often purchase technology in hopes that something great will happen once the devices reach teachers' hands. Instead technology complicates class time, as schools often fail to provide technology training for teachers. It is suggested that schools should rethink their instructional models by addressing specific educational goals and then finding ways to use technology to meet those goals.
  2. Teachers are also concerned that they will be replaced by technology. With apps such as iTunes U and websites such as Khan Academy that provide individualized learning and free tutoring, it's no surprise that this is a common concern. It also does not help that technology is seen as a low-cost substitute for teachers. However, Arnett suggests teachers should note that their roles are going to change - for example, teachers in blended learning schools will focus more on mentoring students, working with small groups, and managing projects.
  3. The last common concern is that online learning will undermine teachers' professional judgment - meaning, teachers fear that their work will only consist of grading assignments as students spend all their time with online curriculum. While this may be true for low-quality blending learning programs, this is not the case for high-quality programs. In the latter, teachers' professional judgment will actually expand as they will need to provide more coaching and mentorship, and will need to create a classroom culture in which students realize the real-world relevance to what they are learning.
Arnett notes that as more schools accept technology within their classrooms, "the nature of teaching is going to change." However, with proper instruction and high-quality programs, blended learning can provide teachers with new opportunities that can benefit the classroom.

To read the original article, "Addressing teachers' concerns about online learning" by Thomas Arnett from the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, click here. What do you think about the use of educational technology in classrooms? Do you agree with these concerns and how Arnett addressed them? Let us know!

About Thomas Arnett: Thomas’ research focuses on the changing roles of teachers in blended learning environments and other innovative educational models. He also examines how teacher education and professional development are shifting to support the evolving needs of teachers and school systems.

About the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation: The Clayton Christensen Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation. Founded on the theories of Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, the Institute offers a unique framework for understanding many of society’s most pressing problems. Their mission is ambitious but clear: work to shape and elevate the conversation surrounding these issues through rigorous research and public outreach.