The exponential increase in mobile subscriptions in Africa is increasingly influencing many spheres of society – from banking to disaster management. The impact of mobile technologies on learning, teaching and education delivery seems less influential, but it has in fact increased. This growing influence is already having disruptive effects on our education systems. What is the nature of this disruption, and will it revolutionise education to such an extent that we may no longer need teachers and lecturers? This topic is the focus of the eLearning Africa 2012 Debate which take place both online and on stage on Friday, May 25th, 2012 at 17.45 -19.15 in Cotonou, Benin.
The motion that will be debated is: “This House believes that we have underestimated the disruption mobile technologies will cause to formal educational systems in Africa and is concerned that their increased use undermines the traditional classroom setting, making teachers redundant.”
“Technology is the only way of providing kids in Africa with up-to-date information in a way that makes them part of the global community,” says Biologist and Educator Cheryl Douglas, one of the debaters arguing for the motion. Douglas is an advocate of technology-enhanced learning. “Teachers are needed to help students sift through the information and analyse and debate it,” she says. “If teachers are unable to do this, they are already redundant.”
Wayan Vota, a senior director at the ICT4D not-for-profit Inveneo, takes a similar stance and does not think that we should be writing teachers off so quickly. He says, “Much of Western civilisation, thought and philosophy are based on three great teachers: Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. And they did their best work with nothing but sheets. Not even the printed word! How arrogant the technologist who thinks mobile learning will eclipse the power of human interaction in education!”
Otieno says, “Mobile technology will definitely make teachers redundant. For example, consider the Graphogame technology which uses phonetics to teach pupils early reading skills in local languages. This technology is more orthographically correct compared to the teachers who have almost no knowledge on teaching reading in local languages or in the mother tongue. In addition, it will be quite costly in terms of time and money to train the teachers afresh as currently they are trained to teach early reading in English. In the case of Kenya, it seems more economical to use these phones rather than teachers to teach early reading and to then have a few teachers supervising.”
What do you think? Are you a teacher or lecturer who agrees that your job is on the line in 5 years’ time? Are you a researcher who thinks teachers will always matter and can never be redundant? Have your say in the comments section below and in our Facebook group, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @eLAConference. Voice your opinions using the hashtag #ela12debate.