The more I think about technology in the classroom, the more I become uncertain about how positive the use of technology is in our classrooms. I grew up with absolutely zero technology and life seemed to be a lot safer. I feel that technology brought so much with itself, both good and bad.
I do see that the life of an educator who is not familiar with using technology became a lot more stressful. Even if teachers are tech savvy, incorporating technology in an effective way takes a lot of time and effort. I absolutely agree with Trevor and Matt that technology will not make a teacher into a good educator. As Lisa mentioned, we engage our students through building relationships and knowing our students. I certainly see all the negatives the existence of technology brings into our classrooms: such as feeling frustrated when struggling with technology, and I am thinking of our newcomer families, and refugee families who do not have experience using devices. Technology often causes distraction as well as adds to the already fairly high daily screen time. And we haven’t even touched on the negative effects technology can cause as a result of being used by our ‘digital natives’ who are lacking the knowledge of how to be responsible digital citizens. I do not believe that phones and technology in all should be banned from our schools, but we need to take the time and teach our students how to use them safely and appropriately.
I would say, in general, I am pro technology, that is why I applied for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology. Whenever I had to sit down in front of a laptop, I felt overwhelmed and stressed out. I had no idea how to do anything on a laptop beside searching on Google or Youtube. I certainly would not want my students to feel the same way. It is a horrible feeling. I feel it is my job to help my students become familiar with using technology. I also think technology can make learning fun and engaging. As Dean pointed out during the class discussion, Kahoot and Mentimeter are great tools for engaging the students who never put up their hands. Most of the EAL students are shy and they have fear of being judged. By the time they form their answers, the class has moved on to a different topic. Kahoot and Mentimeter are fun ways to practice all the tricky grammatical forms of the English language that take years to sink in. They also give an immediate picture of student understanding of certain concepts that the teacher can address right away.
Our current move to supplemental online learning is another proof that technology does help us reach our students. Especially during these hard times, technology serves as a great vehicle for learning. Although I would be a lot happier to have the opportunity to listen to my students read out loud in person, Seesaw made it possible the other day and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I have to say that I am loving Seesaw more and more every day. I can actually see this as a great tool to reach my students while travelling back to their home countries for very long periods of time, providing an opportunity to communicate, that Amanda and Nancy referred to as the 5th C. The record feature is a wonderful tool where students can practice reading aloud and hearing their own pronunciation with endless retakes if necessary. I feel excited, even though I am just at the beginning of becoming familiar with great tools and ways to use technology in a purposeful way.
My take away from the debate is to focus on a balanced approach when it comes to technology use and always have a purpose behind it. As George Couros says ” If I get into a plane and all it does is drive me from point A to point B, not only is this not a transformational use, we know there are better tools for doing that specific job. Only when we choose to fly in the plane does that technology become transformational. It is on people to use technology to it’s fullest potential.”
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