Argument: Technology adds little to the fundamentals of teacher-student instruction

Support and analysis

  • Jacob Marley (online debater). Economist online debate. 10/15/2007 – “While technology in the classroom will teach students how to use that technology, it does not actually support the basics of education. It can be useful, but adds little quality, as nothing can replace a teacher and their skills. Technology is a resource, much like anything else – its effectiveness is dependent upon the user.”
  • By extension, if the teacher lacks the fundamental knowledge, skills, communicative ability, inspiring persona that are fundamental to teaching, the teacher-student educational process cannot benefit from added technology. Technology can act only as a conduit between the teacher and student, but cannot change or even enhance the fundamentally necessary human interaction between teacher and student.
  • Merellis (online debater). The Economist Debate Series: Education. October 15, 2007 – “I support the proposition on the basis that education should be viewed as a process, not as an institution which can benefit from calculators, books or computers. These technologies enhance the way that students can approach the learning process, but they do not inherently improve a student’s ability to understand a given subject, whether it be math, science, language or music. Ultimately, education involves a teacher challenging and engaging a student or students through instruction and guiding those students toward their own experiences and exploration of that subject.”
  • Marsconsultant (online debater). Economist Debate Series. October 19, 2007 – “I vote against the proposition. Whilst I beleive that new technologies and new media improves the ease of access to education, I am yet to convince that it addes to the quality of most education. Effective interactions between students and teachers I believe is the key – which means more quality teaching time and face-to-face interactions.”
  • westcoastUS (online debater). Economist Debate Series: Education. October 19, 2007 – “I have enjoyed good teachers and have experienced new phenomena through technology (mainly the internet). However, technology cannot substitute for having an in person teacher who is knowledgeable, well prepared and interested in their students. Further, technology cannot substitute for many educational experiences such as the in person interaction with other people (we’re social animals) and directly experiencing certain things as a part of the learning process (would you want blood drawn by a nurse who has only done it through on-line training?). A good teacher without much technology can always give better results than a mediocre teacher equipped with the latest technology. Technology cannot substitute for well motivated teachers who have received good training. It is my experience that the technology as deployed today is generally not being used to the best possible advantage and has not fulfilled its promise. I have to vote ‘pro’ regarding the proposition.”

Only human-human, teacher-student interaction can inspire and invigorate

  • Informed reader (online debater). Economist Debate Series: Education. October 18, 2007 – “As a student I lived through the change from teachers writing on a blackboard to writing on a piece of plastic on an underhead projector to using powerpoint. Their is a reason that we clap for a good instructor at the end of the year and the phrase ‘death by powerpoint’ has entered normal speech. One needs a connection with an actual person to bring excitement and purpose to education.”

Good technology can be put to bad use without good instruction

  • jondwitts (online debater). The Economist Debate Series. October 20, 2007 – “I strongly believe that technology can add to the quality of education. However it must used in an innovative and interesting fashion or it adds nothing to the lesson. Students in our schools mostly know more about the software the teachers are using than the teachers themselves. Students are not engaged or inspired by a teacher reading the bullet points from the PowerPoint slides they are projecting up to them. However using mobile phones with cameras to document thier Geography field trip, and sending teh pictures they have taken straight to a server in the school for students, staff and parents to see, is an engaging use of teh technologies available. It, as always, comes down to the fact of how good the teacher is, not how good the technology is.”

Technology can even distract from important student-teacher interaction

Only humans can teach