Pro Tech

Each week in EC&I 830 with Dr. Alec Couros, we are taking on a debate topic regarding contemporary issues with educational technology. Myself and my rockstar partners Jana and Kristen were the lucky group to take on the first week’s topic of whether technology in the classroom enhances learning, and our stance was AGREE!

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Agreeing that technology does enhance learning is consistent with my long-time personal opinion, so I was super happy to take on this side of the argument. As a “pro-tech” person, it is easy to say that I agree with this, but to actually convince others and hopefully win (I am very competitive), I felt pressure to put together a solid argument, and understand the big picture of what it means to actually effectively use technology to enhance learning. I truly enjoyed the challenge of researching and developing our opening debate statement, as well as actual in class debate and counter arguments that followed. Kyla, Wendy, and Amy who took on the disagree stance of the debate, did an absolutely amazing job supporting the ways in which technology can be a detriment to learning, and their research and arguments were extremely valid.

When thinking about whether technology enhances learning, I think the most important thing to consider is the role of the teacher. The research and opinions on the disagree side of things often say that technology is being haphazardly thrown into lessons or used ineffectively to do tasks in which it is not actually needed. Technology is a tool, not a replacement for a teacher. Setting up appropriate learning activities and providing guidance, structure and opportunities to use technology to bring learning to a whole new level is a huge part of what teachers do in their classrooms. The SAMR model, is a great way for teachers to consider how they are using technology and to what level it is actually effecting the learning for students.

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Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning by Katherine McKnight, Kimberly O’Malley, Roxanne Ruzic, Maria Kelly Horsley, John J. Franey & Katherine Bassett was the main research article my group gravitated to as they so perfectly describe the ways in which technology not only enhances learning, but increases student engagement. The article describes in detail how technology:

  1. Improves access
  2. Enhances communication and feedback
  3. Extends purpose and audience for student work
  4. Shifts teacher and student roles
  5. Restructures teacher time

These 5 roles technology plays undoubtedly transforms the ways in which teachers and students are interacting, communicating and learning together.  So many barriers are broken down when traditional roles of not only the student and teacher shift, but also when the ‘textbook’, materials, output and assessment are vastly improved.

Preparing students for their future education and careers in the 21st century should also be at the forefront of education, and as we’ve read about Future Work Skills 2020, students need skills like cognitive load management and virtual collaboration, in order to engage in diverse spaces and media they will encounter. One of the arguments of the disagree side was that multi-tasking is detrimental to student learning, and that technology can be quite the distraction for students. Thinking back to my learning and experience in EC&I 832 and a blog post I wrote, schools need to be providing students opportunity to learn digital etiquette, manage distractions, and ultimately  become better digital citizens. If schools do not play this role and provide students a chance to master these skills, how will they ever succeed in the technology driven world around them?

Not only does technology enhance learning in a classroom setting, but technology IS the way students communicate, share, and spend their time. If students are using technology to live so many moments of their lives, we should be seeking to use it to enhance as many moments of their learning as we can.

 

 

Debate #1

Our class debates sure started out strong! The question is…Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?

My first reaction was:

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But after listening to both sides of the agreement I was more like:

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I decided it may be beneficial for me to do a bit of a ‘classroom inventory’ to explore a) the technology I have in my class, and b) the ways that I use that technology, to see if it really does enhance learning in my own classroom.

What I found was this: the typical SMART board at the front of the room that I know I don’t use to the best of my ability, at a small table near the back of my class I’ve got a listening center set up with a CD player (yes those still exist) and 3 iPads. Our school also has 2 laptop carts, each with a class set of laptops. However, being a Prek-12 school with over 500 students and specific high school tech classes, my own class’ use is limited to once per week at most. I’ve also got my iPhone, too, which I admittedly use for school use such as Seesaw, Twitter, or email. Even though our division has cautioned us of the potential risks of using our personal devices for school use I still cannot get out of the habit just yet. That brings me to Seesaw.

This is the third year now that I have used Seesaw in my classroom as a digital portfolio of my students’ work. Even though I may not use it to its fullest potential, I strongly believe that it has enhanced school/home communication. Has it directly enhanced my students’ learning? Well. I don’t know. I will have to explore this further in another post.

When I do have access to the school laptop cart, it is typically a chance for my students to do research for their Genius Hour projects, to type up a piece of published writing they are proud of, or to put together a presentation (I taught them how to use Google slides this year and they love it!) My students even make slideshows for me when I am away sick and they miss me. As a grade 4 teacher of 100% EAL students, I just love the fact that they are playing around with language and writing! Plus, it’s adorable:

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I swear I don’t pay them to say such kind things!

Getting back to the debate…I do understand and agree with some of what “Team disagree” was saying. The cons do add up: cost, limited resources, students spending more time on creating a powerpoint presentation rather than the assignment and research itself, and student distraction. I suppose I don’t understand the full extent of the student distraction seeing as my students don’t bring their personal devices to school, and have never tried. I am sure it will become more common in the future, but for now I haven’t had those issues (if one would consider it an issue??)

Team disagree mentioned a study that was done in the U.K. where student cell phones were banned and test scores went up. I would argue that test scores aren’t all I care about as a teacher. I would argue that growth can and is being seen with the use of technology, but as it was pointed out many times during “Team agree’s” argument, the teachers themselves play a tremendous role in whether the technology is used in a meaningful and authentic way to enhance learning.

Team agree brought in some very informative information such as the SAMR model which is something I had never seen before. As they argued, the goal should be to integrate modification and redefinition tasks with the use of technology to not only enhance learning but transform it. This was a pretty enlightening moment for me, as someone who has always been fairly comfortable with technology use, but realizing that I am not using it to its full potential in my classroom.

I do believe it is our job as educators to help teach our students about digital citizenship. So much of their lives are based in technology. Is that good? Well, that’s another debate for another time. I do know one thing; it’s not going away anytime soon. So shouldn’t we make the most of it and use what our students know to engage them?

Although I think both teams did an excellent job of bringing this debate alive, it is plain and simple that I agree that technology enhances learning in our classrooms.

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Tech, as yet another teaching tool

Back for more awesome EdTech learning with Dr. Alec Couros in EC&I830, and this time our class is designed using a debate format. Fun!

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For our second class session, brave students volunteered to be our first debators, and the hot topic was:

Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?

We saw videos made by the two groups who agree and disagree with this question, and we were asked to look at materials supplied by each group and blog our response on this topic. As I did for my tech course last term, I’ll try to make my responses relate to my experience teaching young adults ESL whenever I can.  I realize this give me a slightly different perspective from most of my classmates who teach in the K-12 system, although I’m sure there is still lots of overlap.

So, do I think tech in the classroom enhances learning after hearding/reading the interesting materials my classmates shared on this issue?  I’d have to say that, like the majority of my class (according to pre- and post-debate polls), I believe that technology does enhance classroom learning.

From an adult ESL teacher’s position, I can’t imagine not availing myself of a few of the many contemporary tools that technology affords us in my daily lessons.  My number one use of tech on a daily basis?  I’m sad to say, it’s Google.  Over the 18 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve gotten to be quite good at acting and improvising (less so at drawing) when I’ve needed to help a student understand the meaning of a new word.  But some words, like butternut squash, balcony, and speed dating, can become terribly time consuming to describe.  Whereas before I would have had to devote five minutes of class time to explaining what “germination” is… (more, if I get sidetracked!)….  now, voila!

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Students themselves use Google images to share famous people, places, foods, and other elements of their cultures.  It allow them a quick and efficient way to share something of themselves, which is so important for language learners living in an immersion setting, far from home.

I also use my “smart classroom” computer to project a lot of work we have going on during an average class, such as when I type up student responses to questions so that we can analyze their vocabulary or grammar use, or when I create a mindmap with elicited information on a new topic I’m introducing to the class.  Honestly, I’m at the point where I can’t really imagine teaching without a computer, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t especially tech-savy and doesn’t use many of the “fancy” tools and apps that are out there.

I have to say that I agree with the authors of Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning who write that technology can transform students from “passive to active learners, guided by their own quest for information” (204).  Language learning is such a personal journey, and allowing students to use digital tools, often their cell phones, to look up information, share images and videos, and occasionally (when appropriate) translate a word, phrase or idiom, really puts them in the drivers seat and give them a sense of independence and control over their learning.

Another advantage of technology that McKnight, O’Malley et. al describe is that via technology, teachers can incorporate materials that are more current than textbooks.  With the world, and technology itself, changing at such a rapid pace, our theme-based language textbook become outdated very quickly. I can supplement what is in my textbook with learner appropriate information that is “more current, ‘richer,’ and more engaging than their textbooks” (204).

For the above and so many other reasons (many of which the authors give), it really does seem that “tech enhances learning in ways not otherwise possible,” and I can see why around 70% of teachers surveyed on their “technology beliefs” (198) agree to this statement.

I agreed with a few of the other advantages to using tech in the classroom that are given in 6 Pros and 6 Cons of Technology in the Classroom.  For instance, I know there are digital tools out there that allow teachers to get and give instant feedback, and I plan to also experiment with using a few of the at least 65 Digital Tools and Apps to Support Formative Assessment Practices listed here.  I know that these tools would definitely enhance the feedback I am able to give my students on their written and spoken class work and assignments – and at the same time, it would likely be less tedious for me to use a digital tool to record myself talking about an essay (for example) than sitting with yet another red pen and marking up yet another piece of paper…  Besides, how many students actually look at those comments on their papers…?

 

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I also appreciate how technology can help more students participate in class, especially those who may not otherwise speak up.

And so, as you can see, I agree that online tools can make ESL lessons so much more time efficient, interactive, interesting, up to date, relevant, and fun.

Of course, as its title suggests, this webpage also give the “cons” of using tech in the classroom, such as the point that “technology in the classroom can be a distraction” and “technology can foster cheating in class and on assignments.”  I can see that the writer is clearly biased towards technology in the classroom, as she points out (and I agree) that for most if not all of these possible drawbacks, the “teacher is in control,” and so there are always ways to mitigate the challenges that devices can bring to a classroom.  In the end, I like the quotation she added from a history professor in Virginia, Sara Eskridge, who “believes that technology is a tool to be used in the classroom, rather than an end in itself.”  This is how I feel about the situation – “technology” is a term that actually encompasses just about every single object that we use.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,  technology is

the application of scientific knowledge to the practical aims of human life or, as it is sometimes phrased, to the change and manipulation of the human environment.

Given this definition, technology includes not only the laptop I’m typing this on right now, but the table that’s under it, the hardwood flooring under the table, and every other element of my created surroundings.  Therefore, to teach without technology would be to return to the days of a strictly oral storytelling tradition, which I don’t believe anyone would argue is the way to go, even those who send their children to the Waldorf School of the Penninsual.

Matthew Jenkins writes in this Guardian article that at this school, “[t]eachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing rather, than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet” and that at this school “[l]essons are delivered by a human being that not only cares about the child’s education, but also about them as individuals.” I often have to wonder how the “all or nothing” attitude is so frequently fostered by such educated people.  Surely no one is insinuating that teachers at schools which incorporate technology don’t employ painting and drawing in their toolkit, and aren’t disinterested in their pupils “as individuals.”  While I definitely work hard to help my 8 year-old develop his creativity, individuality, curiosity and passion for learning, as well as his love of nature and respect for the environment, I don’t see how letting him have one hour of screen time a day is going to squash all of my efforts…

And so, as much as I see that there are potential hazards to relying too much on “new” technology or depending on it for every element of our lesson plans, I remain certain that technology, old and new, is an essential part of education, and pretty well has been since we left the cave.

I do advocate for classroom-created policies on the use of devices, such as one approach to creating a policy I outlined in a blog post I wrote for my previous EdTec class, Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy, Classroom cell phone use policy making: of the people, by the people.  I think that if the “rules” and expectations are designed by and accepted by students, there will be more buy-in to them, and a better balance of technology’s advantages vs. disadvantages can be more easily achived.

Let me know what you think, please!

For or Against Tech to Enhance Learning: Where do you stand?

Technology in the classroom–this most definitely can be debated on whether or not it enhances learning or distracts from learning. Like many things when it comes to education, there are pros and cons to almost everything. I do however heavily favor the idea that technology most definitely does enhance learning in the classroom– that being said, when used appropriately. Like anything in education, there is always a time and place for everything and I feel that teachers need to consciously consider when technology should be introduced and used in the classroom.

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One reoccurring point that was brought up on both sides of the debate this week was the importance of the teacher’s role in implementing the positive use of technology in the classroom. Teachers need to be aware of their goals in using technology and consider what routines and procedures they need to set out in order to ensure that their goals are met to enhance learning. I agree with what Dani states in her blog post Post Disputandum Week 1:

“regardless of how much or how little technology we have available in the classroom, without the direct support and guidance of the teacher, there will be no opportunity to enhance learning or deepen learning for our students.  Teachers play an integral part of ensuring that technology is used properly and safely for students.”

Image result for tech pd for teachersI am a firm believer in setting out expectations with familiar routines and procedures. I feel that when it comes to technology many teachers do not understand how to set appropriate expectations as well as feel lost when guiding students to use technology to enhance their learning. I do feel that teachers need to be trained in ways that they can use technology in their classrooms and not just provided technology to use. This will ensure that technology is being used to deepen learning and not just used for surface level learning.

I feel that the disagree side in the debate did a great job of presenting concerns with technology enhancing learning. I feel that as a teacher it is important to consider what negative impacts technology could have on learning to ensure that you are able to positively use technology to its full advantages. Team disagree shared the article Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom. This article is a great article that outlines aspects of technology we as teachers need to be considerate of while planning to incorporate technology into learning opportunities for students.

One of the negative effects that this article list is student distraction when using technology. As we are well aware technology can be very distracting to students. In many cases, students become more focused on the technology itself than the actual learning. The article shares how many students are consumed with creating their presentation and in turn, the research and learning falls to the side as they are putting more time into creating a presentation with tech tools than using the technology to dive deeper into learning a topic. This is a good reminder to teachers that we need to set the expectations to focus on the learning of the information prior to the presentation so that the technology is in fact used to enhance and deepen the understanding of a topic and the learning.

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As stated above I do believe that if used appropriately technology has the opportunity to enhance learning. The article Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning as shared by team agree shares many pros to using technology to enhance learning. One pro shared in this article that I completely agree with is how technology improves access for students. Technology allows us to access the most up to date learning resources at any given time. This allows students to develop a deeper understanding of topics as they have access to up to date information and access to a variety of information on any given topic. In a time where information is changing and progressing at a rate where many can’t even begin to keep up with, technology allows students to access the most current and up to date information. This allows us to more than only having access to textbooks that unfortunately in many cases are outdated quickly due to the permanency of information in print.

Another way technology enhances learning also listed in the above article is that technology extends purpose and gives an audience for student work. I find this aspect of technology to be extremely powerful and beneficial for students. This allows students to be a part of a larger community beyond the four walls of their classrooms. They are able to collaborate with students and experts from all over the world with the use of technology. It is known that students will put greater effort into their work if they know that the will be published online.

This past term my classroom launched a large project. We called it the The Happiness Project. For this project, my classroom launched a classroom blog. Each week different students had the opportunity to be a guest blogger and share what we were learning about in our happiness project. This project allowed students to use the blog as a platform to share their learning with others outside of our classroom. It was an extremely rewarding experience for my student and they felt extremely empowered to be able to share knowledge with others. The students commented on how they would ensure that they put great effort into writing on the blog making sure they use their best possible work as it is published for others to view. This project allowed them to connect and learn from others that would not have been possible without technology. This was a great experience for me to see how powerful the use of technology can be in my classroom.

I feel that both sides of this argument are very important to consider when looking at how a teacher can effectively incorporate technology into the classroom. One major barrier that I feel teachers have to work with is the access to technology and how costly it can be for schools to purchase the appropriate technology so all students have access to the technology that they need. I agree with what Shelly in that the access to technology can be an extremely frustrating challenge for teachers.

 “due to the limited funds available and therefore limited access to technology in our schools. Many of us as teachers seem to have a willingness to embrace technology, and move teachers and students along the SAMR model, however, regular accessibility is a feat in frustration.”

I feel that this was a successful debate and both sides provided lots of great points that allowed us all to consider the pros and cons of using technology to enhance student learning. I feel that as a teacher we need to deeply understand both sides of this topic in order to effectively incorporate technology to enhance learning in the classroom. Great job team!

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Technology & the Classroom – Finding Balance in 2018

“Technology could be seen as the culprit, or it could be harnessed to improve engagement and effectiveness.” 6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018 

We’ve all heard a colleague say it…

” I just don’t have the time to learn about all this new technology I’m supposed to be using.”

Does anyone else worry about the state of education when they hear these words? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we have a problem if this is how some are looking at technology in education.

Photo Credit: BECCA PONS [bp] + CREATIVE Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it – we are busy! We have about 101 things on our plates each day that we need to accomplish in order to feel like we are properly supporting the students in our schools. Most days, I feel like I get done about 25% of the things I set out to do. There are also those days where I feel like a super teacher because somehow I have managed to cross EVERYTHING off my list… until I make another but I’ll take the celebration while I can.

This week in #eci830 we were tasked with the creating a response to an in-class debate on whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning and both sides of the debate presented valid points. Prior to the debate, I would have told you I was 100% on the agree side of this statement and I still am but the disagree side challenged my thinking!  If we aren’t challenging what we think we know, then are we really learning?

While reading the article from the quote below there were two phrases that continued to come to my mind: hidden curriculum and teachable moments.

“Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject.“ –  Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom by Timothy Smith

I certainly do not believe that technology is going to be the ‘be all end all’ in education but what I do believe is that it is not going away. If we think back 10 or even 5 years, the changes in technology in our world are enormous. As educators, we are tasked with the job of preparing our students for life outside of the K-12 education system. If we are truly preparing them for that world then we need to realize that how we have taught in the past is not going to work. We can’t expect to continue to use teaching methods from 20-30 years ago and integrate technology all at the same time. There simply are not enough minutes in a day for that and I’m not convinced that makes for best practice! Removing some of “what we’ve always done” and thinking in ways that allow for engagement of all not only benefits students but also allows the teacher to engage in the learning process with students. I think this is why I kept going back to the idea of teachable moments and the hidden curriculum.

When teachers are willing to let go of the idea that they need to be the one who holds all the knowledge and embrace that learning alongside students is also learning, we are in a space that then allows for a change in teaching practice and pedagogical growth. For me, this does not mean that we need to see technology used all day, every day in our classrooms. To me, this means balance. When bringing technology into the classroom, balance combined with informed and intentional teaching practices, in my opinion, is what creates learning environments that will prepare our students for life outside of the classroom.

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Do you see balance in this video?

I this video I see a few things: students who are engaged, collaboration, hands-on learning, technology, pencil paper tasks and excitement for learning.

What would I change about this learning environment? I don’t think we should remove technology from the main classroom, I think we need to integrate it into what we are already doing. There is no doubt these students are learning and developing problem-solving skills. However, are they seeing the connections that can be made with what they are doing in their classroom? Perhaps a better understanding of the school set up here would be helpful.

What do you see or think about how these students are engaging with technology?

 

 

Is the use of technology in classrooms enhancing student learning?

I am on the fence. I come at this question from an early childhood educator perspective and a mom who has two young children. This generation of students have been born into a world that is obsessed with technology.

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Where as I grew up without computers, cell phones or the internet. Boy that makes me sound ancient! Technology was around it just wasn’t overtaking our homes and lives. There is definitely no escaping the fact that technology will be around for a while. That being said, in the last couple of years before I resigned from teaching, I noticed a worrisome trend. Young children were finding it hard to engage in play. Play is usually so innate within young children so why this change? Is it because of the overuse of technology or is it that there is a generation gap, a misunderstanding of the merits of online play? Perhaps the idea of what play consists of needs to be redefined? Could play include games and interactions online in virtual worlds?  Maybe there is a place for technology in the early childhood classroom.

Last Monday, we had our first debate in EC&I 830 on this question. I heard the argument that technology helps to equip children with skills that they will need for their future professions. This may be true, but imagination and exploration are essential skills to fully engaging in a world that is always in flux. Children need to develop a love for learning, a desire to create and collaborate, an inventor mind-set in order to be world changers. As Mark and his son Jack talk about in their TED talk, children can create change in the world by building on what they love and what they know. Play and experience are important ways that children create their stories by overcoming challenges and reaching out beyond themselves. Play is the way that children figure out what they love and what interests them. I define play as children interacting with the world around them in concrete and physical ways. So where does technology fit in the world of early childhood, in the world of future change makers?

As discussed in our first debate, technology is a tool to enhance learning, to go beyond the classroom walls and dig deeper into subjects and global interactions. The use of technology in the classroom has many benefits for both teachers and students. I am not against the use of technology, I am cautious about when and how to implement it. Many of my EC&I 830 classmates mentioned that it is about balance when using technology with their students. In the past, I have felt strongly that in an early childhood classroom, technology should be used very sparingly and that the focus needs to remain on play. Perhaps a sift of perspective needs to take place for me. Children today are growing up immersed in technology. Play and learning to them can take on different forms than what I knew growing up. They may play a sport with a gaming device but then talk about it with their friends at school. They may draw a picture on their iPad that they could never do with a pencil and paper. Their learning is enhanced! I still have my doubts though. What about their physical fitness and fine motor skills (in particular pencil and paper skills)? What about their verbal communication skills?

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So I remain on the fence. I see the benefits to using technology in an early childhood classroom but I worry about the affects on the holistic development of the young child.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences using technology in the early childhood classroom? I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Disputandum Week 1

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Hello again everyone!

Just a quick refresher, our first debate topic in week 1 was

“Does technology in the classroom enhance student learning?” 

We pre-voted and post-voted and in both instances, the consensus was that indeed technology does enhance student learning – I will admit, I was and still remain on the same side.  However, can I say the hugest congratulations to both sides of this debate!  Arguing that technology DOES NOT enhance student learning in a technology based class is not easy and there were valid, educated and relevant points made on both sides.  If you didn’t get a chance to, or aren’t in our class and want to peek the opening statements for both sides please check out the links below!

Disagree

Agree

I want to start by bringing attention to the fact that both sides made it VERY clear that regardless of how much or how little technology we have available in the classroom, without the direct support and guidance of the teacher, there will be no opportunity to enhance learning or deepen learning for our students.  Teachers play an integral part of ensuring that technology is used properly and safely for students.  It was really refreshing to hear both parties agreeing on the fact that we are and will continue to be needed in the classroom. Technology (at least for now! 😉 ) does not, regardless of how valuable it is, create the rapport and relationship that is offered by the teacher.

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I would like to tackle the wonderful points that the disagree group made that were close to swaying me.  They posted this article by Timothy Smithee that outlined 4 substantial negative effects that technology could have in the classroom.  I was really surprised because many of these I hadn’t considered.  The first one that stuck with me was the idea that technology is not being used effectively in the classroom and therefore not enhancing learning.  In a lot of circumstances, I really can’t disagree with that.  There are teachers who are resistant to learning the ins and outs of new programs and devices and therefore are not doing them justice if they are being used at all.  This in no way shape or form enhances learning, it just wastes time.  The second and third points they made which in my opinion are closely related is the immense cost of technology and therefore when purchasing it, there is potential to divert resources from other areas.  I get it – in order to use technology in the most effective way, the more you have, the more time each child gets with the device, the more potential for deepening learning rather just substituting.  I was big into the arts in high school and I would have been livid to know that money was being funneled from arts programs to fund a computer lab.  Granted, technology didn’t have the power it has now – that aside, to promote people’s passions and offer opportunities across the board is very important and was a valid point brought forward by the disagree side.  The final point that the disagree team made was the one that I had assumed they would rest on – that technology is a distraction.  There are so many opportunities for kids to spend more time fussing with the tech and learning enough about the topic, or just simply getting distracted by the million other things your device can do, other than what you’re supposed to do.  My colleague Catherine pointed out that she struggled with distraction from technology through school and had to set strict guidelines for herself in order to get work done… I have to admit, I did the same….but thankfully, now we have the abiltiy to get kids young and start teaching them proper, healthy technology and social media use.

All of these points were well researched, well thought out, and well presented.

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Now, on to the agree side.  These gals made excellent points to support why they felt technology does in fact enhance learning.  One of the main things I appreciated about this group was they openly admitted there were flaws in their argument and they argued their points regardless of them.  They proved that even with these downsides, their beliefs would outweigh the cons.  The article, “6 Pros & Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018” was a great read as I feel like it did the same thing – pointed out flaws but gave suggestion as to why, despite the cons, it’s still a great addition.  The agree group pointed out that technology is in fact a tool like any other we would use in school and needs to be treated as such.  When suggested that technology be integrated, it’s the same as being able to integrate any other newer tool or program.  Another very important point that this group made was that we are using technology as a means to prepare students for the future.  Kids are going to need to have a very specialized skill set for jobs moving forward and being digitally literate and competant in technology as well as multi-tasking and group work will be integral.  We learned of Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship last term and they are once again relevant as we explore what the future might look like for kids.  The agree groups main argument comes in the form of showing exactly how technology deepens learning and engages the students.  They said, it improves access so that children who don’t have access 100% of the time at home, can still have a chance to dig through and explore resources online at school.  Second, they mention that having chances for technology in the classroom makes it more teacher centered which essentially means that while you’re students are working independently, you can work with small groups who need extra support, etc.  Our time is so precious and this is a huge pro.  Another point that was brought up was that technology extends the audience that our students can write to, which can inspire purpose!  As teachers we are always looking for ways to motivate our kids and showing them that the world is bigger than our classroom walls is a great way to do it.

All of these points were also well researched, well thought out and well presented.

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Again, excellent job to both groups.  It’s so important to see both sides of an argument so you can informed decisions.

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

TECHNOLOGY- ENHANCING TEACHING AND LEARNING

Image Via Educacao

Hello ECI830!

Most of us would probably agree to the fact that technology has revolutionized almost every area of life and education sector is no exception, I believe that technology has so much to offer especially in education and for an educator to get closer to our students and deliver the knowledge effectively and efficiently. I think that no digital tool is fundamentally evil and If someone wants to be mischievous and misuse it, they can and they will find ways but the same platform can be used positively in many ways. Technology in the Classroom Makes Learning Fun and interesting. Technology in the classroom is a great way to attract students towards interactive education. In this digital age, our classroom must not necessarily be, how it used to be decades ago. Technology in education has been the biggest game-changer in teaching that we educators will ever see. So, I believe that technology in the classroom enhances learning.

There has always been a heated debate about the effects of using technology in education and this week’s great debate was prodigious and I respect the views of both the sides. I was also quite surprised when I learned that few parents are opting to send their children to schools where there is no technology and for me, it was hard to digest but yet it seemed to be true. I do agree to the fact that it is the teacher who has the responsibility to steer the students towards success no matter with or without technology but without technology are we being fair with our students? are we equipping them with right knowledge so survive in this complex digital world and preparing them for the digital future?

Technology is already sweeping through classrooms and as educators, we are well aware of it. Education today is drastically evolving and so are our students. Today’s children are budding up in a digital world and Social media is integrated as a dominant part of our youngsters. Teaching in this digital era for the students who consider themselves as digitally a step ahead of their teachers poses many challenges for educators. We are sometimes worried that what we produce does not extend beyond the walls of our classroom and thanks to technology that perception has changed. Today we can take teaching and education beyond the walls of the classroom.

The effect that technology has had on schools today has been quite substantial. This incorporation of technology has totally changed the way educators teach and children learn. Emerging technologies such as tablets, iPads, Smart Boards, computers and various educational applications has changed the whole game of teaching and learning and transformed the traditional classroom setup. By adoption and integration of technology in the classroom, we are equipping our students for a fruitful life after school.  There are many advantages of using technology in classroom and school, some of them are stated below.

Technology in the Classroom Makes Learning More Fun:

In a review led by Quizlet, an online learning tool provider finds that most educators say technology makes learning more fun and students say it helps them learn. While another study conducted by CompTIA finds that students want to increase the use of technology in order to make learning “more fun”. Technology has the potential to transform the old perception of a boring classroom setup to a fun and an interactive experience. Whether we agree or disagree It is important to acknowledge that students are already absorbed and engaged in using technology, rather than viewing this as an alarming and disturbing development we have to see this as an amazing opportunity for schools and educators to benefit from integrating technology in the classroom and make teaching and learning more effective.

 Technology in the classroom is a great way to attract students towards interactive education:

In this digital age, our classroom must not necessarily be, how it used to be decades ago. For educators, there are many exciting tools to help our students. Incorporating technology in the classrooms is one of the easy and effective ways to make education fun in the classroom and to take it way beyond the classroom walls. Technology encourages collaboration, today’s children are already collaborated outside school but in a different context, but if we incorporate Technology in school activities we can collaborate students about the school activities in the school and also beyond the school walls. It helps to build a community within the classroom, students engage in knowledge building together around a new topic or an idea. It helps to build creativity in students while they are given a task, it also aids to showcase their work and get instant feedback. This helps students to refine and develop their artistic abilities and provide them confidence.

Technology encourages individual learning:

GIF Via GIPHY

Every student is different and their learning styles and pattern are different. Technology offers great prospects for making learning more effective for everyone with diverse needs. Children can learn at their own pace, review tough concepts and be confident with them by referencing. Technology can offer more opportunities for students with difficulties or disabilities. Internet access gives students access to a wide range of resources to conduct research in different ways, which in return increase engagement.

Technology improves engagement:

When technology is integrated into the classroom, students will be more interested in the topics that they are learning. Technology offers several prospects to make learning more exciting and pleasant in terms of teaching the same topic in a new and exciting way. Furthermore, technology can encourage more dynamic participation in the learning process, which can be difficult to achieve through a traditional teaching environment.

There are many such advantages of using technology in the classroom and the list goes on. The impact that technology has had on today’s education has been quite significant and I completely agree that technology in the classroom enhances learning. Having said that technology by itself will not enhance learning, Dani in her blog post stated that Technology for technology sake will not enhance learning and I completely agree with her statement. As an educator in this digital era, it is our responsibility make this notion into a reality.

Finally, to wrap this post I would love to hear your thoughts and concerns about the use of technology in the classroom. Do you embrace technology in your classroom? And what other benefits do you think technology can offer in your classroom? And the ultimate question, do you believe that technology in the classroom enhances learning?

GIF via GIPHY

 

 

Technology ≠ Short Cut

This week, my peers Wendy, Kyla and Amy gamely advocated on behalf of a position that runs counter to a near consensus among our class. As our pre-vote showed, our class strongly feels that technology is helpful towards improving student learning in our classrooms. Nonetheless, the three of them proficiently provided us with some very effective counter arguments that, at the least, gave us some pause and forced us to seriously discuss the issue.

To begin with, I will be upfront and say that my own perception is squarely with the majority. I believe that integration and use of technology greatly enhances learning opportunities in the classroom. Anecdotally, as a Learning Resource Teacher, I also know that technology provides opportunity for students with challenging needs to participate with the curriculum.

I don’t think our lopsided post vote truly reflects where we fall, as a class. I felt that in the end, as a class, our actual perspective on the issue rested somewhere in the middle. Somewhere in the middle of a spectrum. Or somewhere in that overlap of a Venn diagram.

Our position was better captured by the variety of posts and comments on our padlet, which point to anything but a uniform, blanket endorsement of technology in the classroom. Consider:

@emaeers: “I am on the fence with this topic. On the one hand technology is a wonderful tool to make resources more accessible to students… Teachers really need to make sure that they are using technology as a way to enhance their lesson and not a way to substitute for real life hands on experiences.”

@dhackel13: “…use is absolutely everything…Teachers need to really assess why they are using the technology and make sure it is enhancing or transforming the lesson and not just a direct substitution that is not necessary. “

Anonymous: “…The fanciest, newest, coolest technology is a just a tool. So is a chalk and slate.”

@Kendie81: “...Implementation is key. How is technology being used in the classroom? Is it being used on a “surface” level…”

As is the case with most things, moderation is key. Our own personal stance will likely depend on our own circumstances, and I am no exception. As I mentioned before, I know that technology helps teachers to differentiate for student need. I know that it greatly enhances students’ ability to access curriculum, especially our most vulnerable students.

But aimless use of technology is, well, just that. Aimless. Implementing some kind of technological initiative for the sake of using technology won’t do anything. To temper my position even more, an OECD report in 201 found that heavy use of technology actually dragged down student outcomes Math, Science and literacy. The article was littered with statements that echo the cautious statements of our own class:

“Technology can amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching,”

“While PISA (OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment) results suggest that limited use of computers at school may be better than not using computers at all, using them more intensively than the current OECD average tends be associated with significantly poorer student performance.”

“The OECD report found outcomes in education only improved when technology was present if the computers or iPads helped students study or practice skills they learned in class.”

So, in the end, what does this mean…? Well, both sides of our own debate this week seem to creep towards this middle ground that recognizes the importance of the role of the teacher. If nothing else, it may be Kristen, Jana and Katie’s success in claiming that middle ground for themselves that led to such a lopsided vote.

Interesting…

Perhaps this also means is that we, as teachers, are thankfully not going to be mechanized any time soon. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

To tech or not to tech

In our recent Ed Tech class, we had an excellent debate regarding the use of technology in schools and how appropriate the uses might be. The topic was: “Technology in the classroom enhances learning”.  Both sides tackled their stances with justified reasoning.  On the side supporting educational technology in schools, the group was adamant that technology increases student engagement and is a tool necessary for future education and jobs.  Conversely, the group challenging the topic, stated the limitation of resources to be spread out among schools, teachers’ technology skills, and distractibility as potential issues regarding the use of technology.

I’d like to weigh in on this topic, if I may.  I might be coming to this discussion table with a teaching perspective unique to some others in this course.  When I first started teaching in 1991, there were few computers in the school.  The schools’ computer lab was limited to about 10 computers and they were used mostly for basic programming.  The information gained in the classroom was limited to the books available for us and the knowledge of the teacher. Student engagement was often difficult and often accessibility to demonstration of knowledge for some students with challenges was virtually impossible. I have often thought about one particular student who I taught in about 1993 who struggled with regular programming. He was aptly intelligent but couldn’t demonstrate his knowledge in the traditional ways we were asking. He struggled throughout his education.

26 years later, I am in a grade 7 classroom and technology is part of our daily routine.  Before I came to Regina Public Schools, I would say that I was using technology to enhance student learning quite regularly.  Students were doing things in their learning that I had never done before.   Students who had difficulty representing their learning in traditional written format were able to represent their learning in video or technological form. We constructed our own webquests and I used SMART technology tools to teach and demonstrate concepts.  Students were generally very engaged, providing teachers were skilled in technology use and implementation.  Fortunately, our division had three instructional technology consultants who came to classrooms and modelled how and why to use different technology according to curricular expectations.

However, whether it be a sign of the economic times or a lower commitment to technology infusion in Regina Public Schools, when I cam here four years ago, I immediately noticed that access to technological learning tools is far more limited.  The dissident side of the debate might win by default here, due to the limited funds available and therefore limited access to technology in our schools. Many of us as teachers seem to have a willingness to embrace technology, and move teachers and students along the SAMR model, however, regular accessibility is a feat in frustration. It is difficult to engage students in developing healthy and productive routines and use of tech tools, when the use of them is sporadic at best.

If I were to philosophically choose one side of the argument over another, I would definitely say that technology does enhance student learning as it is can be a purposeful tool that engages students in their learning, makes learning more student centred, increases accessibility for students with learning challenges or that require enrichment, and prepares them more readily for a future about which we know little. However, access to technology is limited in some cases and therefore, implementation is often a challenge. Many teachers will simply avoid using technology due to their own tech challenges as well as limited access. What could we do if we could harness technology in a manner that looks toward the future?