Category Archives: Weekly Reflections 830

Does Technology Enhance Learning? Read to Learn More…

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.

A look into my daily use of Technology.

When I think about what a “day in the life” looks like for me regarding technology, the first thought to pop into my head was the 9 to 5 theme song (praise Dolly Parton). I use technology from the moment I wake up, until I go to sleep. The 9 to 5 workday has blurred the lines between our professional and personal lives thanks to having direct access to all of our files, contacts, conversations and information all in one place. The pandemic heightened the need to be able to connect digitally, however it became almost an expectation to have instant responses regardless of the time of day or day of the week.

I’d like to compare my use of technology to my husband’s because it is clear that opposites attract. When it comes to digital applications, I am someone who cannot have unread notifications on my phone for very long. My husband has over 2000 unread emails on his email app and it kills me slowly every time I see it. My hundreds of OneDrive files are neatly organized into subjects, units, assignments and so on, and my husband has 50 random documents on his desktop from 2011 to 2022. I believe that people who use technology in both their personal and professional lives have an advantage compared to those who don’t. This is simply because of exposure to multiple different applications and the time spend using the programs and devices.

Technology has completely embedded itself in my daily life. As a younger millennial born in 1995 I grew up with technology as it was evolving from the chunky, slow, desktop computer, to the state-of-the-art smartphones in our pockets. I also identify with a lot of “Zillennial” pop culture content a.k.a my love for Tiktok, but I still remember a time when technology did not rule our lives. I have learned and grown alongside technology. I have a decent understanding of utilizing technology both in my personal and professional life and I continually learn new tools and platforms as they become available.

A normal morning for me looks like this Monday-Friday.

6:30 AM – The alarm goes off on my iPhone sitting on my wireless charger stand with my iWatch and Airpods (Sorry to the androids users if you’re reading this)

7:00 AM – Listen to music through my iHome speaker while I get ready for the day and make breakfast (Big Swifty over here waiting for a double album drop on Friday the 13th…fingers crossed) During this time I have also checked numerous apps such as the weather, news, and apps with notifications and probably sent a message or two.

7:30 AM – Listen to a podcast through my apple car play on my 30-minute commute to the city from my home at Last Mountain Lake (Today explained, Papaya Podcast, Social Studies Podcast, Dear Hank & John, DST, Unlady Like just to name a few).

8:00 AM – Arrive at school, enter my classroom, turn on my projector, log in to my school device and open the numerous websites that I use on a daily basis as a teacher who has gone mostly paperless planning-wise.

  • Planboard (Online day planning website)
  • MSS for attendance
  • Seesaw (Student portfolio & digital assignments)
  • Outlook – Emails from staff and parents
  • Microsoft Teams for morning announcements
  • Powerpoint for Morning Meeting
  • Wordle & Canuckle for our daily word game

Before my students have even walked in the door I have set up my day utilizing technology and it doesn’t stop there. However, I still like to have a balance of both hands-on learning, physical copies, and digital learning within the classroom. Throughout the school year, my students have gained so many new digital skills, and my hope is that they transfer those abilities to their future classes.

I am consistently connecting with people in a digital way. My students and I connect digitally through Seesaw, and during the height of the pandemic, we connected in a way that we never thought possible. The skills I acquired during online teaching have been transferable to my online master’s classes such as this one. I connect with coworkers and parents digitally mostly through email. And, I connect with friends and family through various social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Messenger, and Tiktok.

I know that for my own mental health, having some time away from my devices serves me very well. I often feel that I have so much screen time during the week at work and at home, that I really try to take advantage of the weekend and stay off of the computer, limit my scrolling time and enjoy a tv show or a movie distraction-free with my phone sitting in another room. I am starting to think that a scheduled digital detox would be something to consider when I am feeling at my lowest. I would love to hear if anyone has similar or different daily experiences than I do regarding technology use. Maybe it’s less, maybe it’s more. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts!