I SPENT PART of the 2022 Irish Learning Technology Conference listening to colleagues share their research findings. One of the sessions I attended offered a quick view of Brendan Ryan's action research into the realm of teaching for critical thinking.
Half way through Brendan's presentation I realised I fit the stereotype of "newer is better" because I unabashedly seek out new tools and techniques.
Brendan's research documented the need for critical self-reflection as an important academic deliverable. If we insist upon repeatedly upskilling students in the use of new edtech tools, we could be reducing opportunities for self-reflection. That sort of focus does not enhance academic standards.
Technoguilt and Technolust
As Brendan explained, the absence of criticality has been raised by many voices (Selwyn, 2012, 2013, 2015; Kirkwood and Price, 2014; McDonagh and McGarr, 2015; Bayne, 2015; Jameson, 2019; Crook, 2019). Yet our lust for bright and shiny new tech rambled on. Brendan didn't promote the development of an anti-technology position. Instead, he challenged the "taken-for-granted discourses that guide policy and practice in this area". The research participants of this study were nine teachers working in Further Education and Training (FET) and the intervention consisted of a two-year ‘critical technology integration’ (CTI) professional development programme. Drawing on in-depth interviews, thematic analysis exposed a reality where some practitioners struggled with technology integration and a phenomenon of ‘techno-guilt’ where teachers blamed themselves for not using technology enough. The research also highlighted the real-life challenges of developing criticality within an environment where techno-positivity is dominant in discourse and policy, and where there are significant limitations to teacher agency. The study concludes that criticality needs to be central to technology adoption models and that teachers and learners need to be enabled to explore technology critically with the authority to decide on if and how they will use technologies for learning. Adding this dimension to professional development liberates them from the burden of such techno-positive discourses and provides them with greater ownership of this change agenda.
More about Limerick Clare ETB
A few years ago, a crew from our Youth Media Team interviewed people from the Limerick Clare ETB.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business in the Technological University of the Shannon.]