In Great Britain, the Chancellor of the Open University has warned that the fears of education professionals could be hampering advancements in education technology.
Lord Puttnam, Chairman of Atticus Education, spoke with the Telegraph and said that there is a “natural conservatism” held by many in education. This is particularly true in regards to education and technology development.
“It is possible that those people, because of their fears, will hold back changes that could happen a lot quicker,” he said. “We really need visionary teachers who can use all these new resources, who are not intimidated by them.”
Josie Gurney-Read of the Telegraph reported that Lord Puttnam had spoken of this before at the launch of Mind Gap, saying that when it comes to educational change, many in higher education are “dragging their heels”.
Puttnam said the reluctance to accept change could be due to fear of status and job loss that may come from a new generation of professors who could challenge their traditional teaching methods. He says the evolution of education is making some people uncomfortable, but when balanced, that the disruption is “remarkable and potentially very good”.
He continued by saying that he has been surprised by the slow developments in education technology and calls for more encouragement , help and support for teachers integrating technology into the classroom.
“What has surprised me is that the most positive and most adventurous professionals are primary school teachers,” he said. “There is a wonderful sense of hope in primary schools and a wonderful sense of how to make the learning experience better.”
Puttnam says that most of the time those who are unwilling to adopt new digital methods of teaching are those in higher education. He says that when it comes to thinking about the future, society looks to higher education and academics, but according to Puttnam, higher education is not advancing with the times.
Lord Puttnam shared some of the possibilities that the Internet can provide teachers by sharing that in one day a million teachers downloaded lesson plans and ideas from teachers at TSL Education, where Puttnam is the chairman of the advisory board.
“Lots of people used to think that teaching was a very private affair and teachers protected their lesson plans and didn’t share them,” says Lord Puttnam. He says that sharing online has proven that this isn’t true. He continued by saying, “What we are seeing is a transition of people coming into the classroom for whom technology is a normal and natural way of life. These are the visionary teachers we need.”