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ONLY ON ABC-7: Will technology in the classroom make teachers obsolete?

El Paso County’s three largest school districts are in transition. Traditional teaching is taking a technological turn. But ABC-7 is discovering tech-savvy classes come with some concerns. As students learn virtually with digital tools, some teachers wonder, are they being phased out?

From the switchboard operator, to the milkman, to the iceman, technology makes jobs obsolete. As technology evolves, so do modern job requirements. Kids graduating with virtual marketing, software, and online design skills have a better chance of finding jobs in a world of blogs, apps and social media. The new classroom must prepare students to be college and career ready.

“I’m here because my position in EPISD has been dissolved,” said veteran teacher and El Paso Teacher’s Association President Norma De La Rosa. De La Rosa spoke with ABC-7 at an EPISD job fair.

De la rosa has spent nearly 40 years in the classroom. This spring, she and 180 other academic coaches learned their positions no longer exist.

“I do believe we’re going to be playing a different role,” said veteran teacher and president of the Ysleta Teacher’s Association.

Valencia started as a choir teacher, but realized she’d need to go back to school several times and did.

“The Macintosh was introduced into the classroom, and I was thinking, you know what, that’s the boat to jump on,” Valencia said.”

“I remember being in the classroom and teachers thinking this Apple II is going to replace me and that never happened,” said EPISD Director of Instructional Technology Tim Holt.

Administrators say computers can’t replace teachers, but as budgets tighten, teachers worry.

The computer can’t talk back to the student and give them that pat on the back and say hey you did a great job,” De La Rosa said.

“Learning is a natural human thing that requires that guidance from people with experience, people with a certain knowledge base to be able to then provide that content to our students,” saidMiguel Moreno, head of SISD’s Instructional Technology Department.

It’s up to the teacher to evolve with it. Teachers like De La Rosa may just have to get yet another certification….

The El Paso and Socorro districts offer curriculum instruction to help teachers grow.

“Not only are we asking our teachers to move away from from the traditional model of teaching, we’re going to be moving away from the traditional model of professional development,” Holt said.

“We go into this field knowing we’re going to be life-long learners we can become experts in our field but even the expert has opportunities for growth in their field,” Moreno said.

Life-long learning may mean educating yourself outside of what districts offer.

“For someone like me who didn’t grow up with technology, it takes me a little longer to have to learn, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn how to do it,” De La Rosa said.

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