Before I dive into the literature that each team provided, I quickly want to talk about how much I enjoyed this format. Nancy and Amanda argued that technology in the classroom enhances learning while Trevor and Matt countered that argument.
After an initial pre-vote where everyone votes on what side of this topic they were aligned with, the debates opened with pre-recorded opening statements. Both entries were strong, with Nancy and Amanda taking the narrative approach while Trevor and Matt had a format that was similar to an attack ad and hate a lot of statements refuting possible points that Nancy and Amanda made in their opening statement. There was some time to prepare rebuttals after that, and both teams used their maximum of three minutes to rebut. Then, the class opened into a group discussion and questions for the two debate teams. Once more both sides went into breakout rooms and finally delivered their closing arguments.
This was all facilitated nicely in Zoom. I like the functionality that breakout rooms can provide in something like this.
I should state that my prevote was that I disagreed with the statement that “Technology Enhances Learning.” It is simply too broad a statement. Technology had the potential to enhance learning, absolutely, but it also has the potential to be detrimental to learning.
Matt and Trevor’s arguments were good ones. They addressed risks and side effects of technology use. This study, based in China, noted that student memorization was adversely impacted because of technology use and that students were also beginning to develop addictions to this technology. The study also suggested that it was IT companies and policymakers that were leading the push for technology in classrooms, not educators. In the debate itself, Trevor and Matt suggested that perhaps Big Data has motive to get as much technology into the classroom as possible. Trevor and Matt other article was “The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected” — This is an interesting one in that some Silicon Valley-types are attempting to get their children away from screen time in schools and are instead showing a preference for play-based schools. Matt referenced that idea that because using technology reduces that cognitive load on a person’s brain that learning is perhaps worse when we rely on technology.
I really enjoy Trevor and Matt’s unique presentation style, and for guys that are quite heavily invested in educational technology, both as members of the Regina Catholic School Division’s Connected Educator program, they did an excellent job refuting points and keeping in character during the debate.
Nancy and Amanda’s presentation was narrative, and took cues from Mike Wesch’s Teaching like a YouTuber: Off-Camera Online Teaching Options. Their literature an article challenging myths about technology use by George Couros, an article that was a bit of a rebuttal to Matt and Trevor’s Silicon Valley point, and a couple of worthwhile videos to check out.
Nancy and Amanda’s main point was that technology can keep teachers and students connected. They mentioned how technology can give a voice to those who are shy or who can feel marginalized in a traditional classroom. They also highlighted how technology can deepen understanding and can push the classroom and students’ audiences beyond the walls of a school building.
Though my overall opinion on this topic did not change purely because of how broad the statement was, both groups did an excellent job. I think that overall we can be too eager to embrace tech. There are equity issues, troubleshooting issues, the issue of adequate training for staff and students. All of these issues can up during our discussion on Tuesday night, and as a result many of my classmates changed their opinion from the pre-vote. Many that first agreed with the prompt had changed to the disagree side.
This format and the quality of the content on Tuesday night has me very excited for the next round of debates.