Perception that technology in classrooms reduces role of teachers wrong: Microsoft global edu expert

New Delhi: The perception that introduction of more technology in classrooms will reduce the role of teachers is completely wrong and governments should focus more on training teachers rather than just handing out devices to students, according to global education expert Anthony Salcito.

Salcito, Microsoft Worldwide Education Vice President, told PTI in an interview,"governments are recognising that education is the fuel for future in a much more clearer way, the clarity of industrial shift to digital age in the industrial revolution has created a demand for shift in talent that is required to train students in the new age".

"However, this perception that technology in classrooms will reduce role of teachers is wrong..totally false. Value of teachers has never been as greater in human history as at present and the role of technology is to also empower the educators, that is the proper channel through which education should be imparted to students," he said.

According to Salcito, who has worked with different state governments in India on training of educators said, "governments of developing countries with fewer resources must be extremely clear about the overall vision they have for their education sector with special focus on enabling training of teachers and learning outcomes rather than just focusing on handing out of devices to students".

"What often happens in emerging economies is leaders who are driving hope for change and trying to revitalise education systems and outcomes will often use technology as a tool to inspire others and they will usually start with an acquisition agenda. They start with--I will buy a device for every student and we are going to outfit every class for the internet".

"Those proclamations are often misguided because they make it about the thing rather than the actual people transformation and what we know is that the most important element we have to shift is the mindset of students and educators for the future," he said.

Putting device acquisition first could also trigger challenges from stakeholders such as teacher unions, and reduce individual purchase of devices because people will debate the advantages of technology versus other investments or even result in readiness gaps because some schools will simply not be ready digitally, have no infrastructure or physical space to use the device effectively, Salcito pointed out.

The best educators trained by Microsoft under its Educator outreach programme who have used technology innovatively to bring a change in student learning experience, represented their respective countries at the E2 Education Exchange Conference in Paris held last week.

Echoing Salcito's views, Vinnie Jauhari, who leads the Educator outreach program for Microsoft India said, "the focus should entirely on empowering the teachers first before we jump to empowering students. The practice of jumping straight to students can be seen as reducing role of teachers but not bringing technology. It is the need of today and let our teachers be trained enough to introduce the students to the world of technology".

"During the programme, we cater to schools from wide range of geographical locations in India, from elite private schools in metros to municipal schools in rural areas and educators training has brought out tremendous results," she said.

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