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  • Writer's pictureJulien Morizio

Tech as a Tool for Ed, or Ed as a Tool for Tech?

UNESCO's latest report on technology in education, recommending the ban of smartphones in schools, urges educators to reflect upon the role of technology in the learning process. For some teachers, this consideration may be challenging as they have been trained to fully embrace technology in their teaching methods.

A case in point is Quebec, whose ministry of education has made it a required professional competency for teachers to "Mobilize digital technologies." While this requirement may seem progressive, aiming to equip 21st-century learners with necessary skills, it could inadvertently lead to an overall philosophy of education that adopts the idea that "the more tech, the better." Continuing to drive towards a potential overreliance on technology in education would be ignoring UNESCO's warning against using tech for its own sake rather than as a tool for learning.

Perhaps it is time to reassess this competency for both current and future educators in Quebec. By simply removing the term "digital," this competency would convey a more balanced approach, acknowledging that problem-solving and addressing diverse student needs are the primary objectives, while the means to achieve them can be flexible. Digital technologies can indeed facilitate collaboration and communication, but the focus should remain on human-centric education, with technology serving as a supportive tool.

Two elements of this competency, namely "Collaborates via digital technology" and "Communicates via digital technology," seem less relevant when viewed through a human-centric lens. Digital technologies are increasingly user-friendly, and if students are adept at human interaction, they can undoubtedly adapt to using digital tools when needed. However, relying solely on digital communication and collaboration may neglect the importance of developing essential soft skills, better nurtured through face-to-face interactions.

Looking ahead, as we continue to prioritize socio-emotional learning, there is a possibility that human interaction will regain and remain the priority over digital technology in the classroom. But that would require a massive shift in the tide in education policy, especially when we consider the many entities who have vested interest in it. As Butler and Hibaq describe:

"There was little robust research to demonstrate digital technology inherently added value to education, Unesco said in its 2023 Global Education Monitor report. Much of the evidence was funded by private education companies trying to sell digital learning products. Their growing influence on education policy around the world was 'a cause for concern', it added."



Global Education Monitoring Report Team. UNESCO. Global education monitoring report, 2023: technology in education: a tool on whose terms?

Gouvernement du Québec / Ministère de l’Éducation. 2021. REFERENCE FRAMEWORK FOR PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCIES For Teachers.

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