Technology can do a lot to facilitate good learning: Some of the stuff we ask students to do doesn’t really need to happen when they’re all together in the classroom, and technology can make it possible for the students to do these things in other places (such as at home, in Hub Central, on the train, or lying in the sun on the banks of a river), and give us more time in the face-to-face sessions for interaction. Some of the ways we have of assessing students are very labour-intensive on the teacher’s side, and using technology for these things can allow the teachers to put more energy into other bits of the students’ learning experience. It’s not feasible to give every one of your six hundred students one-on-one time to explain concepts in multiple different ways, but technology can give them the opportunity to access further resources to support their learning.
Yes, technology can facilitate good learning, but the unfortunate thing is that all of these wonderful ways it facilitates learning depend on the technology actually working. When the technology fails, all of your excellent learning design goes straight out the window.
Of course, if you are a good teacher the technology will not be the only method you are using to help students learn so it won’t be the end of the world. And if you are a good teacher, you’ll be able to roll with the punches and come up with some workaround that will allow the students to learn well anyway. And if you are a good teacher, you’ll have a good working relationship with your students so they’ll be gracious when things go wrong. So it shouldn’t really be a problem that the technology fails sometimes.
Only it is a problem that the technology fails sometimes, because what if you’re not that good a teacher?
If you’re a certain kind of teacher, then when the technology fails, you’ll moan very loudly about the technology not working, and blame the technology for the fact the students are not succeeding. For a certain kind of teacher, the failure of the technology to work perfectly for all students all the time is the perfect excuse to explain everything away. It couldn’t possibly be that you don’t give any concrete examples in your lectures — no, it’s the failing technology. It couldn’t possibly be that you are never available to answer student questions — no, it’s the failing technology. It couldn’t possibly be that you don’t give your tutoring team clear direction about what you want them to do — no, it’s the failing technology.
So that is why the technology has to work perfectly all the time — so that there’s fewer weak excuses for poor teaching.