Author Archives: Nicole Romanow

Does Technology Enhance Student Learning?

As per my first blog post, I cannot live without technology; I utilize it for just about everything. As for technology in the classroom and whether it is enhancing students’ learning, I am caught on the fence about whether I truly believe it is enhancing student learning.

Yes, I believe that technology improves access to information and efficiency in communication and grading, but is all of this “education” really helping students to acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding they need?

What Students Think

MS Forms Results, May 12-13, 2022
Forms Submission May 12, 2022

In preparation for this debate I had the idea to poll my grade 10-12 students (yes, using technology – MS Forms) about their views on technology in the classroom and whether it was enhancing their learning. I only had 24 students respond (that’s what I get for making an “optional” assignment…), BUT of those 24, there were many that said that technology does enhance their learning! Many said that access to the internet and Google were advantages, along with visuals for better understanding. Many also answered “both”, that technology both enhances and hinders their learning, with the most prevalent reason being that technology is a distraction (10 students!). 

Distraction

Forms Submission May 12, 2022

This idea that technology is a distraction is mentioned in just about every source on technology use. In his Ted Talk, Richard Chambers (2017), states that people are checking their phones over 150 times a day, that these distractions and redoing of tasks are making us less effective learners and producers. In another Ted Talk, (from the pro side), Jason Brown (2016), speaks about students “drifting away” by their cell phones, which takes away from valuable learning time. 

Moving Forward

This debate could not have come at a better time, call it serendipity! At this moment I am witnessing my love for technology integration in the classroom clash with misuse of technology in the classroom. When I read Strauss’s (2014) article on Clay Shirky, I could not believe what I saw! Shirky’s comments on how he used to have a “laissez-faire” attitude about technology in the classroom, is exactly my attitude and policy at the moment. But as this school year comes to an end, I am debating whether I will follow in Shirky’s footsteps and ban technology in the classroom all together or follow Michael Brouet’s advice and have my students put away their phones – physically away from them – when teaching a specific skill. I do have phone “pockets” in my classroom that I currently just use for quizzes and exams.

Again, I asked my students what they thought about when teachers completely ban technology from the classroom. Many groaned, some stated that they needed their phone for music to calm anxiety, and others insisted that even without their phones they would become distracted and zone out. But, this again brings me back to the Shirky article, where he speaks about “coming to see student focus as a collaborative process”, where my role should be to help students focus on a single task. To start and finish a lesson, assignment, or lab without distractions. And I think I can enhance their learning (and retention?!?) by requiring each student to shelf their device, unless the assignment requires it. 

ES 20 Students Pond Dipping!

I am also reminded of my gained knowledge from past graduate classes on culturally responsive pedagogy and Indigenous Education. What does education for all look like? How can teachers create environments for the best learning? In Fall 2021, I took a class with Jeff Cappo, the Indigenous Coordinator for Regina Public Schools. His work around land-based education is incredible and something that I strive for. Is it serendipitous that he posted this just a couple of days after our debate? I think so!

Questions Moving Forward

  1. More for middle/high school years – What is your classroom cell phone policy? And why?
  2. Does your school have a “bring your own device” policy? What does it look like?

I NEED Technology: A Love/Hate Relationship

When I interned in 2009, I was fortunate enough to have a Coop that had a Smartboard and projector, something that was not common back then! I planned everything using the technology and visuals.

I was hooked! For my first teaching position I was placed in an elementary classroom with no projector. I could not teach like this. I ended up buying my own projector to use for my first two years of teaching.

Twelve years later, technology is part of just about every aspect of my life. I wake up, to an alarm on my phone, and will check my phone before leaving work (Facebook or Twitter). I exercise using a fitness app on my phone. I get to school and immediately turn on my projector so I can display each class’s agenda (on Word) for the day.

All lessons start with a Powerpoint or Word document for reference, most lessons include a Youtube video, all reviews include a Quizizz (virtual quiz) to help study, students are allowed to use the Quizlet App to make virtual cue cards, and all class materials are posted to MS Teams daily. Also, students use a variety of programs (Powerpoint, Canva, etc.) to write up “photo labs” for my science classes.

Communication between students and families is also all virtual. If it is not by email, it’s a message on the Remind App or on Teams messenger.

Once at home, communication for my children’s school is also via technology, either through email or Seesaw. Their teachers frequently send messages and videos about the day’s events through the Seesaw App. Even the softball coaches use an App to keep a schedule and communicate messages!

I rely on my phone for my alarm clock, my calendar, my grocery lists, communication with family, friends, kid’s activities organizations and of course sharing on social media! I am addicted to technology, it is an amazing thing BUT I also am very aware and cautious about the time I spend on my phone, especially with/around my children.

The Beginning of the End

Still love to hand write notes!

This May 2022 I will start my last class of my curriculum and instruction graduate program. I started this incredible journey January 2022 (yes, pre-COVID!). I have mixed feelings about finishing the program. But, for my last class, EC&I 830, I am beginning my first blog!

Stay Tuned!