Education technology in classrooms takes a beatingMarch 20, 2017, 6:55 pm GMT
Education technology in the classroom is a waste of time and money, a debate on the topic concluded at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF).
Introducing the motion, moderator Dino Varkey, chief executive officer of GEMS Education, said education technology spending globally will reach US$19 billion by 2019, according to Fortune magazine. At that cost, expectations of measurable returns are increasing.
James Cantenera, CEO & founder, TULA, Philippines, opening the debate for the motion, stated that investing in technology in classrooms should not the imperative today; with public funds in education being finite.
India spends $243 per student per year per child, while the Philippines spends $176 and Ethiopia spends $91 per, Centenera added.
With the state of educational facilities being appalling, teachers earning low wages and advances in curricula being limited, the priorities today must be to bridge these gaps, he argued. "Education technology will have its benefits one day, but right now it is wasteful before the classrooms are ready."
Countering the motion, Zaki Khoury, regional director, international organisations – Microsoft Gulf, said education technology is "not about the digital divide but about digital dividend". He argued that how students access ICT devices has evolved significantly in recent years, and claimed the OECD report, which served as the foundation of the motion as dating to 2012 and therefore archaic.
"It is fundamental that in today's technology revolution, we really need to leverage the assets we have and also use the opportunities to the maximum. There is no stop for innovation and we need to adapt for innovation. With the changes around us, can you believe that we can come to a conclusion based on emotion that are using same tools built on methods of learning created hundred years ago? Instead of choosing between education and technology, we must focus on education and technology."
In response, Antony Jenkins, board member of Blockchain, former CEO of Barclays UK, said that the tech giants are missing the big picture of the everyday realities of the educational system.
"Billions are spent on electronic white boards, tablets and software; it just lines the pockets of tech companies," he said. "All these deflect resources from things that really matter – investing in teachers, for one."
Munira Rajkotwalla, a student of GEMS Wellington, Dubai, and the youngest participant at the debate, argued against the motion, highlighting her own experience with blended learning - a programme where only 50 students have been hand-picked to study online as against conventional education. She said that not just results but also the number of hours spent on studying endorsed the value of education technology, asserting that technology offers flexibility for students.
"This has made a huge difference to my learning and in a survey of the other students in my class and those using traditional means we got, on average, higher marks in our IB," she stated.
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