Edtech as a study subject core, or elective for educators? What we missed before the COVID19 pandemic.

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The #COVID19 pandemic has surprised many of us in the education sector and led us to question the education system resilience preparations for not only the country in general but also at the institutional level with bias on institutions of higher learning.  We are surprised that even academic institutions of higher learning cannot proficiently carry out online/distance education as many resigned to failure. Now, this is not about lack of resources as we often conclude in an attempt to shy away from the realities.

We all know planning and preparation are key to succeeding at anything. Having a resilient education system whether at the national or institutional level has never been a matter of wishes else, all magicians should qualify as academicians. In the country, there are a couple of academic institutions that have fairly sailed through the pandemic teaching students, and most of these had before COVID19 integrated #Edtech within the curriculum planning and implementation. I should inexcusably add that majority are foreign academic institutions.

A Study carried by the Uganda Communication Commission, somewhat related to one I am working on indicates that educators/teachers are concerned that their digital skills do not match those of “digital natives” (students). I tend to avoid the term “natives” because it comes with far-fetched assumptions when fundamental competencies are put to reflection. Nonetheless, if educators/teachers can’t use digital facilities and resources how do they comfortably teach students using the same tools? Many educators/teachers have vaguely considered running a Zoom video class to be the standard for Edtech and the absence of it is not eLearning.

There is enough evidence to show that little or no preparation of educators and education administrators was present at the break out of the COVID19 pandemic.

Whereas the education landscape and the expected outputs have changed in tandem to the 21st Century needs, training of the facilitators of learning has remained stuck, preparing educators for the ‘past.’

I once met a business manager from some country working on an advanced Excel system. I mistook him for a hired I.T guru but during our chat, he revealed that his not an I.T wizard but the management course he did at university required students to work with complex Excel formulae in a core subject for all. In our institutions, some students including teachers, leave school without knowing how to use Microsoft applications. Why should we be surprised that they cannot effectively teach online or eModerate a digital class? The underlying false assumption among students is that these digital subjects are cut out for I.T students to master and the rest, passing the exam with a ‘C’ should suffice. I am familiar with a brilliant accountant/lecturer who was interviewed by a bank for a job but the bank couldn’t lodge the accountant’s lack of digital skills, also the panel questioned what the accountant was teaching students who are supposed to be interviewed on digital accounting proficiency.     

As you can see already, the educator/teacher challenge has a source and not just a source but rather a principal foundation. I must say that for teachers/educators, digital skills are the starting point for one to appreciate learning and practicing with Technology Enhanced Learning & Teaching (TEL&T) which course all educators from kindergarten to higher education need exposure during training and/or practice to be proficient in hybrid or blended education environments but also appreciate how pedagogy, context among others influence the technology to be used.  

Owing to all I have stated, educators/teachers need to be trained to have the skill set required of educators of the 21st century. I have drafted an Edtech syllabus for teachers/educators in training and/or practice under the name Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (TEL&T). The syllabus can be adjusted to any level of academics (lower to higher learning). If you are an institution involved in training educators/teachers, you can contact me for details. support@tel4educ.ug  

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