It was a great debate this week about whether technology in the classroom enhances learning. As an instructional designer, I feel like my response should be, of course it does! But I can see both sides of the argument. I think technology can enhance learning, but it doesn’t always.
Nancy and Amanda had some great points about how technology does enhance learning. In the current pandemic situation, it has become obvious that technology has made it possible for our children to still attend school and connect with their teachers and classmates. Without technology, we would all be completely isolated.
They also mentioned the four Cs of education, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. In An Educator’s Guide to the Four Cs, John Stock states “Using the ‘Four Cs’ to engage students is imperative. As educators prepare students for this new global society, teaching the core content subjects—math, social studies, the arts—must be enhanced by incorporating critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.” Technology can help support and enhance the teaching of the four Cs.
Nancy and Amanda argued that there should be a fifth C, connection. This is so true, because technology allows us to connect and learn without physically being in a classroom. You can learn anytime, anywhere and this creates a flexible learning environment. Students can work at their own pace and when it suits them. And during this pandemic, I think connection is the only thing that has kept children engaged in their learning.
Matt and Trevor argued that technology does not enhance learning in the classroom. They had some really strong points as well. Like, teachers are pressured to use technology that they don’t want to use. Is technology being pushed in schools to enhance students learning or to sell a product? In Why Classrooms are Apple, Google and Microsoft’s Next Big Battleground, it talks about how there is a lot of money to be made by making technology geared towards teaching and learning. The big tech companies see education as “their next major battleground” and are creating devices specifically to market towards education. Such as a tablet with a stylus that allows teachers to quickly annotate student work and provide feedback. The tech companies also realize that devices children use growing up will influence what they will purchase as adults. The big tech companies don’t care about whether the tools are enhancing learning though, they only care about the bottom line.
Technology can enhance learning, but not if it isn’t based in strong pedagogical practices. This quote, from Matt and Trevor’s presentation really resonated with me, “technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical methods of educators – it can make good teachers better but it can make bad ones worse.” That is why it is important to keep in mind the SAMR Model when incorporating technology into teaching.
SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. “The purpose of the SAMR Model is to assist instructors with determining the level of technology integration in the learning environment. The goal is to introduce technology tools that redefine the learning space, which is ultimately accomplished by replacing traditional teaching methods with alternate learning environments.”1 The SAMR Model helps ensure that technology is integrated into a class in a positive and effective way, rather than using technology just to use technology.
In the end, it was a great debate! I am still in the middle for whether technology enhances learning in the classroom or not. I think technology can help people connect and learn in new and interesting ways. But if it is done incorrectly, will only detract from the learning environment.
1 Instructional design/SAMR Model/What is the SAMR Model? (2018, May 31). Retrieved May 29, 2020, from https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Instructional_design/SAMR_Model/What_is_the_SAMR_Model?