Wow, what a fun week! I am always a little apprehensive about group work, especially when time is of the essence, but I have to say I lucked out with two fantastic partners in Erin and Kyle. The format of the debate was also new to me, as I hadn’t done any formal debate since high school in history class. Rather than simply talk for the first 5 minutes, we decided to do it in style, showcasing just how much more a visually engaging video might provide a better platform for our opening argument. Check it out below:
In the end we came up with a fairly comprehensive list of what we believed were solid strengths for technology being an asset towards learning:
- Decreased learning challenges for LD and EAL learners
- Increased collaboration (between peers, between teacher and students, and on a global scale)
- Connects students to experts within different fields (i.e. via Twitter)
- Increase student engagement
- Supports personalized learning
- Gives a voice to those uncomfortable sharing face-to-face
- Provides students with an increased audience (blogging)
- Allows students to be producers and not only consumers of knowledge (shift from read-only culture to read-write culture)
- Open source resources mean students are learning from up to date sources, not outdated textbooks
- Allows students to create a positive digital presence which will be beneficial beyond the K-12 school experience
- Breaks down geographical barriers (distance learning for individuals from remote communities)
While much of this was culled from simple online searches and the personal experience we have had with technology on our own learning and that of our students, there do exist many studies that conclusively show the benefits of technological aids on learning. Adebisi, Liman, & Longpoe’s (2015) article on Using assistive technology in teaching children with learning disabilities in the 21st century provides not only a solid overview of the benefits of assistive tech as well as many options available to the learning environment, but as well a reminder that this technology is but a tool, and needs to be used appropriately to enhance learning:
• Assistive technology can only enhance basic skills, and not replacing them. It should be used as part of the educational process, and can be used to teach basic skills.
• Assistive technology for children with disabilities is more than an educational tool; it is a fundamental work tool that is comparable to pencil and paper for non-disabled children.
• Children with disabilities use assistive technology to access and use standard tools, complete educational tasks, and participate on an equal basis with their developing peers in the regular educational environment.
• The use of assistive technology does not automatically make educational and commercial software/tools accessible or usable.
• An assistive technology evaluation conducted by a professional, knowledgeable in regular and assistive technology, is needed to determine whether a child requires assistive technology devices and services and should be specified in the children’s instructional plans.
• Assistive technology evaluation must address the alternative and augmentative communication needs, that is, ability to communicate needs and change the environment for children with disabilities.
• To be effective, an assistive technology evaluation should be ongoing process.
It is in these points that I believe our awesome adversaries (that had the arduous position to argue against tech as a benefit to learning) had some strong arguments. Technology, in the form of PC’s, tablets, etc. has become more and more prevalent in the classroom, each with their own variety of educational apps. The issue, which I also agree with, is that without explicit instruction on how to use the apps appropriately, tied with tech support in the classroom and solid classroom management, technology can and will be used inappropriately, resulting in distraction and less overall effort toward completing tasks.
I think Kyle’s counterargument, in that technology as a tool has been used for centuries, and that teachers need to rise to the occasion and become competent in understanding and using the same tech as their students in order to teach them to use it effectively, and to assist them in using their tools and their time effectively.
In case you were wondering how the video was made:
After meeting and deciding on three focuses, we each recorded our separate sections using the voice record on our phones, and sent them up into the cloud. I then used an app called Clip Grab to pull videos off of online sites that fit the content of the voice recordings. Using iMovie, I then cut all the clips to appropriate sizes, removing irrelevant content that didn’t fit with the content. Sticking the audio clips in the audio track, I then cobbled together all the smaller clips into a narrative. Finally I added the titles which had relevant quotes and information I felt were necessary to get the point across.
To wrap up, here’s an interesting article I found that corresponds to how much more effective visual ads are in catching the attention of a viewer, over traditional text or speech based forms of advertisement.
Oh, one last thing, Ian (and Urkel) has done a fantastic job of working through the pros and cons. Check it out here