Today’s debate topic discussed whether or not technology enhances student learning. As a spectator of this discussion, I felt tugged back and forth for and against this debate. This topic was a great opening presentation for this class because it is the essence of educational technology in schools right now. Some may view this debate as simply black and white, however, I find this divide is very grey.
Here are a few of the notes I took from each side of the opening statements.
Agree: Technology DOES enhance learning.
- Access to information that is up to date, relevant, and from multiple different perspectives.
- The ability to facilitate learning by differentiating instruction, engaging students with hands-on learning and utilizing different programming.
- Opportunity to connect with others that may be in remote or far away locations where in-person visits would not be possible.
- Preparing students for the realities of life outside of the classroom. Using technology in everyday life and the workplace.
- Technology is not only enhancing education, but it is enhancing every single sector that humans interact with daily. For example; health care. “If in 1970 you had knee surgery, you got a huge scar. Now, if you have knee surgery you have two little dots.” – Sarah Kessler 8 Ways Technology is Improving Education.
- Supported by the provincial government as it promotes collaboration, teamwork, and increases individual tech skills.
- Allows access to differentiated assessment, adaptations, modifications and assistive technology for students that required additional needs to be successful in the classroom.
Disagree: Technology DOES NOT enhance learning.
- The largest complaint is that technology is a distraction to students and their learning. Students struggle to regain focus on the task at hand when being bombarded by the devices that they are using.
- Students aren’t retaining information as well due to attempting to vigorously copy notes down verbatim, instead of handwriting shorthand notes while actively being engaged in the lecture or discussion. – Mueller and Oppenheimer
- Students experience connection issues, failing devices, or extreme frustration when navigating so many different platforms and websites.
- Real-life connections with other human beings have taken a back seat to artificial, online relationships. This has created extreme social challenges for all ages where students have difficulty communicating with others that are right in front of them.
- Technology and social media have been keeping children and adults indoors more often than outside. This has had a direct effect on both mental and physical health with staggeringly high numbers of anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.
Like anything in our lives, a good rule of thumb is everything in moderation. Excessive amounts of television, video games, screen time, social media, anxiety, and work can be detrimental to all aspects of our health. On the flip side, excessive amounts of water, sunshine, exercise, and planning, (which are usually considered “good things”) can also have a negative impact as well. Extremes on both sides of the argument are never a good thing.
Our society has applauded those who can become “Master Multi-Taskers”, instead of rewarding those who focus on one task at a time and dedicate their full attention to it. We must be in three places at once, even if it is digitally, to be successful and please others. However, when we constantly multi-task, we essentially take longer to complete the tasks at hand due to distractions.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I do have a specific reason to ask everyone to set aside their devices (“Lids down,” in the parlance of my department), it’s as if someone has let fresh air into the room. The conversation brightens, and more recently, there is a sense of relief from many of the students. Multi-tasking is cognitively exhausting; when we do it by choice, being asked to stop can come as a welcome change.Clay Shirsky – NYU Graduate Interactive Tellecommunications Program
To build off of Nicole’s closing statement, technology in the classroom is not going away. We need to focus on teaching our students how to utilize technology in a way that actually does enhance their learning because it is interwoven into our daily lives. I strongly believe that the Saskatchewan curriculum requires a specific section on their website that address grade-appropriate outcomes for teaching digital students within the classroom. Just like we assess relationships in Phys. Ed, we can assess the ability to use tech tools in a responsible and effective way. We already are expected to teach digital citizenship within my division, however, it is not regulated and I have to find extra time to meet the needs.
All in all, technology does enhance learning opportunities for students when used effectively. The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education finds that technology can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk. When teachers are given the proper training to be able to teach and continuously revisit digital citizenship and digital literacy with their students, they can use technology as an enhancement for learning, not a replacement for it.