Category Archives: traditionalism

Tech is Part of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

During my teaching career in China, I worked for two schools with vastly different opinions on technology in the classroom. My previous school had a 70/30 policy, which instructed teachers only to utilize technology 30% of the time. This wasn’t easy when many materials were not available in paper form, and we had to adhere to strict printer budgets. The principals militantly monitored the hallways multiple times daily to ensure we were off technology. Students were becoming more and more technology illiterate

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at school and unethical when it came to using AI technology. Using the technology felt more like a hindrance rather than an enhancement. My current school is technology-positive, especially as they are working towards becoming a fully UDL school. Students are taught from grade 1 how to interact with iPads until grade 5, where they learn more about using Apple computers. Students respect technology and are much more willing to experiment with new apps and platforms because they were taught to play with unfamiliar technology from a young age. Having these two experiences helps me straddle the fence regarding the idea that technology can enhance education.

Liu et al. (2020) make a good point while researching the effects of VR in the classroom: VR creates an immersive experience that generates more student interest. Technology opens doors for students to explore spaces beyond their current existence. This year, I utilized a virtual tour experience of Greenwood to help students understand Black Wall Street and what happened during the Tulsa Massacre to contextualize the history presented in the TV show Watchmen, produced by Damon Lindelof. Having students engaged with the real history, they better understood the motivations of Angela Abar and Will Reeves to seek revenge and the suffering they faced based on past traumas.

Cellphones are often a point of contention for teachers regarding what kind of Ed tech

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should be allowed in the classroom. While FuriĆ³ et al.’s (2015) research did not exclusively conclude that using technology allowed students to learn more effectively, they did find that students using their cell phones were more likely to continue learning in their free time. As a mother to a 7-year-old, I can also attest to this. While my daughter will work in your home study textbook, she is much more willing to reach for IXL and Khan Academy Kids at any time. They are a great road trip distraction! Personally, I allow cell phones in my classroom. I understand that students get distracted, but even I do some scrolling during my two-hour lecture to have a brain break when I need one. It is important that a little distraction may offer our learners personal brain breaks as well; we must remain vigilant in helping them remember to rejoin the lesson when they are ready.

This week’s opposition side to the debate connects with the debate I am currently researching regarding technology and equity. The Harris et al. (2016) article shared by the affirmative side references some points that support my debate topic that technology has not led to a more equitable society, mentioning that teachers who can use 1:1 technology are at an advantage. It was studied in the article that 1:1 technology certainly motivates learners and quickens the process of differentiation, but that is only a reality for those who have this type of technology. My international school in China certainly does; the Catholic school in Regina I was at had faulty and aged technology at best, creating a further digital divide amongst learners of the same age. However, sticking to the question, there is clear evidence through the study’s findings that this type of tech initiative can be quickly successful with the right kind of funding in place. To further consider how much technology can enhance, we must consider Warschauer et al.’s (2010) considerations of gender and the realm of technology. Most people going into the computer science field are men, and women are often bullied out of the field. This is something that more women are discussing; for example, the Blizzard employee who faced so much harassment that she is suing the company. With women and minority groups individuals being left out of developing technology, the creations are often geared toward white male audiences. Without a female voice participating in creation, how can we enhance the knowledge gains of women and minorities?

Technology in the classroom raises questions about modernity and traditionalism and how teachers navigate the changing classroom landscape. Kris Alexander’s (2023) TED Talk was interesting, but it made me question if technology enhances education. There is all this fun technology, like learning from Twitch streamers. Still, teachers are not

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using this type of technology in the classroom. Many basic-style online platforms are usually found in the school to assist or replace recording tools and research methods. However, do these really enhance learning? In all cases, no. In a world where learners are bombarded with different and flashy tech, low-tech options only sometimes reach learners. Therefore, they may not reap the benefits of the technology switch-up. It becomes more important to include traditional means in the classroom to keep learning from becoming a trivial routine but instead being something students look forward to each day. Purcell et al. (2013) speak to my English teacher’s heart. I made the switch to paper-based writing this year to avoid the use of AI in the classroom. While students were not excited about the switch, the improvements in writing were tenfold. My most prevalent complaint matches the teachers in the article because my students also used a great deal of informal online writing. I spent two weeks this past academic year with grades 8 – 11 reviewing the formal writing basics to combat some informal writing practices.

There is no way I will say no to tech in my classroom. However, I still need to navigate the often rocky landscape of technology, and I unquestioningly embrace it at times. Who is going to join me?