How Technology Changes Student-Teacher Interaction

how-students-use-technology-infographic--c84d534271Learning technologies change student-teacher interactions in several ways, but there’s one specifically that really stands out and makes the most difference in our classrooms. Technology has an especially strong effect in the 1:1 classroom, since the students are so in touch with their technology.

Tony Wagner, the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, and the founder and co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than a decade, recently talked about this in his article ’Graduating All Students Innovation Ready‘.

“Knowledge today is a free commodity and growing exponentially. Opportunities for learning are ubiquitous and accessible on every Internet-connected device, students who know more than others no longer have a competitive advantage.”

The Role Of Information

One could argue that this not only applies to students, but is equally pertinent to teachers. At one time, teachers were considered the “content experts” in the classroom. They easily possessed more factual knowledge than a student on any given day.  However, in a classroom where every student has access to the internet via a cell phone or laptop, this is no longer the case. Teachers are well aware that much of the knowledge they acquired from years of college and thousands of dollars in student loans can now be “Googled” by their students in less than 1 second.

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The result of this is that it’s no longer about what students know, it’s about what they do with what they know, and how they do it. The role of the teacher is evolving from having students answer every question, to teaching them how to question every answer.

The internet is an amazing source of information, but it obviously does not stop there.  We must also teach students to find and identify reliable and valid sources of information.  Then teach them how to use this information to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions. It’s crucial that we move students from consumers of information, to creators of information.  This is where the role of the teacher currently lies – Not as the content expert in the room as in days of yore, but as the guide, mentor, and facilitator. We need to teach them to process and use the information that they have at their fingertips.

“If we teach today, as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” -John Dewy


  1. Theo Myer

    September 14, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Eric has valid points if all we are doing in teaching is low level recall. If a teacher moves beyond the lowest level of Bloom’s taxonomy, then his thoughts on how technology affects the student are irrelevant. If our goals include developing thinking skills in the students, then Google expands our playing field but does not fundamentally change the game.

  2. Jennifer bishop

    September 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I totally agree with this, the problem occurs when we take into consideration how we test student and teacher achievement. So even though all the answers are available online and the students would know how to get them, during a standardized test they are not able to use the computer in such a way and are expected to know that information, not how to find it and apply it. That puts us at a difficult crossroads in education right now between the classroom and the tests. So can they come up with a test that allows students use the information technology they have available and test if they can apply the information they find? Tough test to create, but doable.

  3. Mary A. Axford

    September 17, 2013 at 9:43 am

    This post talks about teaching students to find, use, and evaluate information without once mentioning an institution’s greatest resource for doing exactly that – the librarian. It is what we are trained to do. I work in an academic library for a major research university, and I am my library’s liaison to three academic departments. I spend a good bit of my time teaching classes on research skills and meeting one-on-one with students to help them find the best information on their topics. Do you have a librarian? Please find out and use this great resource that is available to you! And by the way, we can often teach about new information technologies. See, for example, the blog I co-author, Academic PKM, which often discusses technology tools for academic librarians and researchers.

    • Eric Patnoudes

      September 17, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I agree with you that librarians are an amazing resource within our schools and I refer teachers and students to them quite often. However, the message of the article was specifically geared towards exploring how the role of the teacher is changing in a technology infused classroom. An article to discuss HOW we would teach our students to become digitally literate in terms of research and information fluency would most definitely include librarians as part of the learning process. Conversely, notice the title of the article as it states teacher to student interactions as the focus.