Technology rush could risk "dumbing down" our kids
PAUL Hamilton uses the latest muscle-control technology in the classroom, but he warns fellow teachers not to allow the rush to adopt cyber learning to dominate what they know about the way children develop.
The Matthew Flinders Anglican College teacher will use his long service leave in the next three months to lecture at conferences in Australia and the United States, on the benefits and pitfalls of IT applications in the classroom.
His concerns have been highlighted by one recent app that allows students to "practise" their handwriting on their iPads.
It works by the use of one finger on the screen, teaching nothing about pencil grip and letter formation that really can only be learnt with a pencil and a piece of paper.
Mr Hamilton, who is Matthew Flinders' primary school head of learning technology, said some technology afforded little value in the classroom and risked "dumbing-down" education.
"Teachers must take a proper approach based on their knowledge of how kids learn and develop," he said.
Mr Hamilton said the technology was a tool, not the lesson.
His concerns have been heightened by the appetite in the US for educational technology conferen
ces of the sort he will speak at in San Diego next month.
They attract tens of thousands of educators looking for information but who quickly discover they are being pushed product.
"Some conference speakers are actually evangelists for products," Mr Hamilton said.
However, he has embraced Thalmic Labs' MYO Armband that allows him to use a gesture to change the screen in his Powerpoint presentations.
The software package allows five separate muscle movements to deliver commands via Bluetooth to his laptop, changing pages or highlighting areas of text.
Mr Hamilton, who already has a speaking style heavily supported by hand gestures, now can seamlessly attract the attention of his students or audience while changing pages or points of reference on the screen.
He will use this strategy at the Australian Future Schools conference in Sydney in March.
The 2013 finalist in the International EdTech Digest Awards Recognition Program, which honours tools, trendsetters and leaders in the education and technology sector, he is a leader in the implementation of augmented reality in schools.