The first week debate was truly a battle. I’ll be the first to say I was in favour of the debate topic- Technology in the classroom enhances learning. How far our classrooms have come, and how quickly we can access and share information, truly has revolutionized our way of teaching.
Out of the gate, Will and Mike were able to bring some strong arguments for the enhancements technology brings to the classroom. The copious amount of tech tools they shared in their opening statement video barely scratches the surface on what is out there and the benefits they have for students. As Ed Tech further advances into everyday classroom practice and programs continue to evolve, the benefits that they give teachers is incredible. Instant feedback on tests, less papers to be spilt on, the engagement fun factor can’t be duplicated. Class, Take Out Your Tablets: The Impact of Technology on Learning and Teaching in Canada was a insightful read. It reminds us that we are building 21st century learners in our classrooms and that the skills they learn now with tech, may only be stepping stones into their future occupations.
I find this question very hard to argue with. The fact is our students will be working in jobs and using tech that may not even be invented yet or as the article states, ” Most educators believed that technology would continue to grow in importance for different careers, including ones that have not traditionally required it” (Pg. 8).
On the other hand, Catrina and Janeen made strong counterpoints against the argument. In the below video, Mary Jo Madda presents an all to common story in education, jumping on trends that have big financial implications. In this case, the Los Angeles Unified School District spent $1 Billion Dollars on an initiative to put an iPad in the hands of every student. What did they find? Well, first of all they didn’t consult the people who would be leading this initiative (the teachers), which with any large financial expenditures surely you would think you’d lay a little more groundwork with some feedback. Let’s say that’s strike 1. The 2nd strike, not providing those very same teachers with the professional development and training on how to use this new technology. We’ve all been there, here’s a new idea, app, device (think smartboards back in the day) and try to figure out how to teach with it properly or is it just used a novelty item to throw bean bags at with math games. The 3rd strike then was the end result, students not learning to their full potential.
The heart of the issue with incorporating too much tech, is the loss of the role of the teacher. Teachers play a far bigger role than showing cool apps or providing a multitude of toolsets for their classrooms. Technology DOES enhance learning in the classroom, the big issue is how is enhancing that learning. With all of the new websites, and innovations happening with AI, technology isn’t going anywhere and I don’t think you would find anyone who would argue that. It does however need to be carefully examined how it is being used as a tool in the classroom, because it will never be able to replace the interactions students have with one another, or relationships formed between classmates and educational staff.
Now I can honestly say, my vote did move more to the middle ground of the debate. Do I see some flaws with using technology in the classroom, of course. The distractions, hours spent learning new media or programs, only to find out they don’t serve any benefit to my students. Is there a lot of good? Of course! New found ways to assess students through Mentimeters, Kahoots, or Flip responses, have allowed my students some real lightbulb moments where traditional pen and paper have only left frustration. Teaching drafting and designing through CAD software was game changing. Having students be able to visit virtual art galleries around the world, have inspiration at the click of a few buttons provided ample inspiration for many visual art assignments. The Google suite software has streamlined most of my classes, even PE! Would I go back to 14 years ago and barely any tech in my classroom, no way. Is it a struggle to find the perfect balance of tech in the classroom, I would say that’s probably more the issue. What tech or programs were you ever tossed your way only to find out they were never going to work in your class?
Check in next week where we will be discussing if Social Media Is Ruining Childhood.
Since class last week I’ve been left wondering a few questions about my student’s online presence and my own kids for the matter.
- How much time do you spend online in a day?
- What activities are you spending your time on?
So I polled my students. Was I shocked by their answers when asked in class, not really, but I was a little taken back at the sheer amount of time some of them were spending online. Some students were spending upwards of 5-6 hours when they got home, being “online.” For the most part, it was all entertainment related. Youtube, Netflix, watching reels (who hasn’t got sucked into losing an hour of their life for no reason at all?), and gaming were at the top of the list. Then came different social media channels such as Snapchat and Instagram. A few were continuing to work on coding projects they had been building during coding club at school.
So What? They spend time online.
My question from all of this would be then, at what age is it appropriate for children to start developing an online presence? I think of my own two kids and when they were handed over their own technology for the first time. At the time, iPads were all the rage but come on, I’m not about to give my children something worth that much money (they tend to break things), and there it was, the Amazon Fire Tablets. They were ages 4 and 7 at the time. Soon they wanted things like Messenger Kids, so they could connect to their friends, and apps downloaded to play games on. Was it worth it? The car rides with no fighting, being able to call distant family members with video chats and making them be responsible for something of their own, were all benefits. A couple months in we had to intervene and put down more clear rules about use of the tech, hours of use, and so on. Fast forward 4 ½ years and three new replacement Fires and we are back at square one again, this time with cell phones.
Since moving from a K-12 school to an Elementary setting they way I look at digital citizenship and teaching it in my classroom has drastically changed. The students I’m teaching are quite like my own two children. So, what do they need to be made aware of as they continue to develop their own online presence?
First thing we always discuss is online safety. What information should they be sharing and with who. What sites and apps are safe to use, and how to properly navigate them.
Secondly, we need to educate them on being a responsible citizen online as well as in the classroom and community. As an educator, it is important to teach students that having online presence also carries responsibility and accountability for what is said and posted online. Being kind online with comments, liking and celebrating others posts, shows an ability to foster and build relationships with one another. Creating an online community can help students build their self-esteem and allow them to connect with other people who share similar interests.
Lastly, I always remind my students to treat one another how they would like to be treated. In a small community, relationships don’t always come easy for all students. Your actions and words used can either have a positive or negative impact on others. Once it is posted online, it’s only one screenshot away from being permanent.
A great resource to use in your classrooms to teach digital safety is a Google program called Be Internet Awesome.
It has a full curriculum to follow with appropriately level graded content and an interactive game for students to play called Interland. The game takes the students through a series levels: Kind Kingdom, Tower of Treasure, Mindful Mountain, and Reality River.
What tools have you found to be beneficial in your classrooms when teaching Digital Citizenship to your students?
This whole use of AI truly is mind boggling to me. The different sites and apps shared last week, was pretty eye-opening to what new technologies exist out there. Type ChatGPT into a search engine and it feels like there are articles being released hourly on the benefits and negative of it. USA Today, released an article today with just that. As with all new technology or learning materials for that matter, there’s always going to be an initial learning curve that has to happen. How can we properly use the AI productively and to our advantages as educators? Where will this training take place? What would it look like? Let’s face it, it’s here now and students are already using it, so why fight it. Embrace it for its many uses and find a way to educate teachers on how to use it first.
As a visual artist and art teacher, I think the use of Dall-e will be a powerful tool for students to plan with. I remember the first time I visited a virtual online art gallery, such as the Van Gogh collection. The ability to zoom in and out of paintings for detail, truly allowed you to appreciate the different brush strokes and intricacies of artworks closeup.
Often times I incorporate art into my other subjects and students get frustrated with it. “I’m not creative,” or “I can only draw stick people,” are often complaints I hear. This would be a perfect resource for them to harness. Search for ideas that relate to the topic and have some fun with it.
I am looking forward to continuing to sample these different AI websites and see how I can adapt them for my classroom needs. The possibilities are endless, yes it is scary how it could be used and manipulated by students, but I would hope that it becomes more beneficial than harmful to the educational community.