Could You Teach Without Technology?

In November last year I wrote a blog post about how I was missing my interactive whiteboard (IWB). My projector had broken and I was without it for all of Term Four. My classroom program suddenly became less authentic, less personalised and less engaging for both the students and myself.

Ironically, the same thing has happened this year! I have been without my IWB for two months and there are no signs of it being fixed any time soon. Luckily, I team teach in a double classroom with Kelly Jordan this year and we both have an IWB. So while this is hard to adapt to, I’m not totally lost!

All this has got me thinking…

Could I teach without technology?

I’m thinking the answer is no.

I mean, of course I could teach. I’d be capable of it. I just don’t think the teaching would be engaging, personalised, authentic, creative or collaborative enough to make me want to do it!

Not many people know that about three years ago I was ready to give up teaching. This would be hard for some people to believe considering how obsessed I am with the career now!

I had been teaching for about four years and I was already getting bored of it. Every day seemed to be the same and I felt confined to the four walls of my classroom.

Technology saved my career and aren’t I glad about that!

I was granted Teacher Professional Leave in 2008 which allowed me about 30 days out of the classroom to explore how technology could be used in the classroom. Through school visits, professional development, a visit the Education Department and a lot of experimentation I suddenly became extremely engaged in my career again!

I became familiar with blogs, web 2.0 tools, iPod Touches, interactive whiteboards, global collaboration and suddenly I was no longer confined to the four walls of my classroom. I instantly saw student engagement levels increase and student learning improve.

I became hooked and wanted to learn more and more about how technology could amplify my teaching and enrich my classroom program.

The journey I’ve been on over the past three years has been hugely satisfying and I am now more passionate than ever about my career.

Technology fuels my passion while enriching my students’ learning; it is now non-negotiable in my classroom program.

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What do you think?

Could you teach without technology?

How did you get into technology?

Why do you like using technology in your classroom?

15 thoughts on “Could You Teach Without Technology?

  1. I could get by, but it’d be history more by delivery of content from my head, or gov’t in the same manner, rather than student-centered construction of knowledge & understanding entirely through authentic materials. It’s not the technology: it’s what it gives access to, and the processes it enables. I teach my gov’t classes entirely through the news – no reason not to. That’s real. And the technology enables them to collaborate authentically, practically in real time, and in a manner that looks & feels little different than what they find in the news. I handed over control of a few blogs to groups of my AP Gov’t students, and theyre running them like any other news analysis & commentary blogs – I can actually read the news, in part, from them. That’s construction of knowledge, and it’s the technology that enables all of it.

    So, sure, I could teach – but I’m sure my students would not be able to learn as much.

    • @ Jeremy,
      I should have said in my post I’m hugely aware that it’s not about the technology as such; it’s about what it enables and what you can do with it. I agree, that my students would definitely not learn as much without the technology we use. Just for example, their sense of the world would be so limited without the authentic collaborative opportunities across the globe they’re experienced.
      I love the example of your blogs – how fantastic is that for construction of knowledge!

  2. Great, thought provoking post. As an ICT teacher, I definitely couldn’t teach without technology! However, in my life before this job, as a classroom teacher, I would have equally found it hard. I got ‘into technology’ because I’m a big fan of doing things easier and better, something that technology often allows me to do. I worked in the corporate world before becoming a teacher and used technology every day for work. It was a bit of a shock to join the teaching profession and find many colleagues who barely knew how to turn a computer on, let alone how to use it to knock down their classroom walls and let the world in. I’m definitely still learning which brings me to where I really, really depend on technology – to open up the world of like minded educators from whom I learn so much.

    • @ Gillian, what an interesting perspective to hear how you came from the corporate world. It’s so funny that the rest of the world is using tech, we’re supposed to be teaching students things that are relevant to the outside world, yet a lot of teachers are not using tech! Hmmm…..
      I also agree wholeheartedly about tech opening up your world to like minded educators. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without that network!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. I’m with you. Capable: yes. Would I want to: no. Tech saved my teaching career too. It made me eager and I think part of that is due to the constant learning that it forces me to do.

  4. I’ve been using technology since soon after I began teaching, initially with EPals and then just growing. It excites and motivates both me and my classes. I’ve had an interactive whiteboard for the first time this year and love it! I’m soon changing schools and will be without an interactive whiteboard at my new school – something I’m not looking forward to. Still, we’ll manage and will still keep on using the many other tools available to us.

    • @ Cathy, oh dear – that would be so hard to adjust to no IWB after having one! I’m sure you’ll do a great job being creative with other tools. I agree that tech excites and motivates both me and my students. I’m really hooked!
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. Kathleen, I would really struggle to teach without technology, even though when I first started there were no computers. As I studied Commerce at Uni, as soon as I started teaching it was assumed I could teach typewriting, even though I had never learnt to type. From there I moved to teaching computers, after returning from maternity leave. I hadn’t seen a computer before I stepped into that classroom of Commodore 64s! Therefore, I have always learnt with the students. There has always been something different for me to learn, especially with the computing subject.
    However, in the last decade, I wondered when retirement would take place, as teaching was also getting stale for me. (I have taught in the same school for the past 25 years due to my marriage to a farmer). However, like you, web2.0 tools have grabbed and hooked me completely, making teaching so exciting and engaging, with something different almost each week. The ability to connect, collaborate and connect with others around the world is just amazing and just when you think nothing more amazing can happen, it just does! Keep up your great work.

    • @ Anne,

      What a similar story – even though you have been teaching much longer than me we both reached a point where teaching became stale and technology revived us! I hope you’re not going to retire for a long time yet! We need teachers like you 🙂

      It’s fantastic that you have learnt alongside your students for all this time – something that many teachers are still getting the hang of.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story.

      Kathleen

  6. Let me first start off by saying that I have had my own computer since I was 5 years old. My father is a tech engineer and has always put different pieces of technology in my reach while growing up. I can personally say that technology is apart of me, and honestly, I don’t know if I would have it any other way. I am a strong proponent about using technology in the classroom and I believe my students are excited about my need for technology as well. We use computers, elmos, video streaming, and more. I currently do not have a SMARTboard in my room, but will next year and can not wait!

    I think it is very important that students be exposed to all types of technology, no matter the age. Our society thrives on computers,etc and if we want our future leaders to succeed with and produce more advance pieces of technology, let’s start in Kindergarten! My students get so excited when they visit the computer and thoroughly enjoy playing the games. I love that they are “playing games” and learning at the same time. No matter what age, I truly believe you need to have fun, and having the opportunity to have hands on with all of the technology in the classrooms, while you’re learning – it sticks better!

    • @ Amber, thanks for leaving a comment. It’s great to hear from someone who has really grown up with technology. Your enthusiasm for technology would really shine through in the classroom and I think that also helps – no matter what you’re doing, if you’re enthusiastic about it, the kids are more into it too! I have certainly found that with blogging!

      I agree that using technology from a young age is important . I remember when I was at primary school and only the grade 3-6 got to go to the weekly ICT specialist class and there were only computers in the 5/6 classrooms. Times have changed!

      You’ll love having your interactive whiteboard! 🙂

      Hope to hear from you again,
      Kathleen

      • I would love to try and get a head start on activities to use with 5-6 year olds on the SMARTboard. If you have any ideas to share or resources to look at please let me know! I want to be prepared and ready for my students to use it as well.

        • @ Amber, I have so many favourite resources that I wouldn’t know where to point you first but I recommend you check out my Diigo site and click on the tag IWB. That’s where I bookmark all my favourite sites to use on the IWB with my students (aged 6-8).

          As you get to find your own favourite sites, you may want to even start your own Diigo account. I find it a wonderful way to organise everything.

          Good luck,
          Kathleen

  7. I could not picture my class without technology. When the internet is down I feel I can not do anything productive in the library. Everything revolves around technology now. The students expect the use of the Interactive board, the tablets, computers, etc. Technology provides all those first hand experiences and the students can visualize whatever we are trying to explain to them.

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