The Great Ed Tech Debate- Take 1 & 2

Wow! Great job teams, the Great Ed Tech Debate was started strong!

Initially, when I first read all the statements, my opinions was were mostly one sided. This past week, I was reminded how many sides of each story has!

Debate Topic #1: Technology in the classroom enhances learning.

My first response was like “Duh! What would we do without it!” Most of my peers agreed as we saw in the pre vote when around 80% of students believed that this statement was true!

Here are the main arguments that convinced this statement to be true.

  • Technology engages students.
  • Improves access for teachers and students to receive up to date resources and facts.
  • Provides means for all learners with multiple needs.
  • Enhances communication and feedback
  • Efficient planning and teaching, so teachers can spend time connecting and building relationships.
  • Technology allows students to take the lead on inquiry-based learning.
  • Students learn skills that will set them up for the future.

Let’s be real, there are countless ways that that technology enhances teaching and learning. However, the apposing team’s statement brought to my attention some very interesting, and accurate points!

Here are the main arguments that convinced this statement to be false.

  • Technology distracts students from learning.
  • Technology emphasized societal gaps and highlight inequities.
  • Less retained when note taking and engaging on technology
  • Negative effects on physical, mental, and social health.

While my list for the negative effects of technology is much shorter, they seemed to have hit me in a much deeper way and even as an adult, I can relate to some of the effects!

I hate to admit it but, technology can distract me, in my personal and professional life. While, I love technology and it benefits me in countless ways, I see the detriments it does or can play. Even though I have boundaries and know limits, I can spend too much time scrolling, obsessing over this and that, and then become overwhelmed!

For me, these boundaries and knowledge came with experience and my era of technology development was very forgiving. Today world of technology is much less forgiving. Apps, tools, connections are all being tossed children’s way with little or no guidance, leaving them reliant and obsessive on devices.

Being so incredibly reliant on devices, can make social situations more difficult face to face than over an email or even a phone call. As time goes on the difficulty will only continue to grow as the face to face interactions and connections are not practiced.

With the availability of technology and the joy it brings to children, things such as sports, fitness, sleep, reading and even eating can be pushed aside. We know as adults how time consuming and addictive devices can be and like to think we have the will power to stop, eat, sleep but it even for adults we know it can be challenging. So for children, they really need that guidance.

Lastly, I must agree with the information that is less retained while reading and taking notes on the computer. I am still a person who loves to print off readings, highlight and write notes on the side. I find the same thing with students. When I ask them to play a digital game about a topic, they sometimes rush through and don’t understand the concept, because it appears more abstract. However, a game with blocks and dice, etc. can sometime be much more effective.

In conclusion, both made excellent points about how amazing technology came be. Its quick, effective, engaging, connects us to every possible opportunity out there, but….

The big BUT here is that it is used effectively and proper situations, with an intentional purpose. Technology is amazing, there is no doubt about that, but moderation, boundaries and background education needs to be put in place to make it the best it can be.

 

Debate #2: Technology has led to a more equitable society.

This topic was slightly different than the last because I was totally split down the middle… I agreed but I also disagreed! I was interested to hear each team’s arguments and see if they could help me decide a favourable position.

Agree Arguments:

  • Personalize lessons to meet students learning needs.
  • Opportunities to reduce societal gaps.
  • Optimize workspaces for people with all abilities.
  • Bring awareness to the present gaps in society.

Disagree Arguments:

  • The Digital Divide became more emphasised and expanded during Covid Pandemic.
  • The gap only becomes larger as society relies more on technology.

Since both teams made amazing points, my opinion remained undecided, much like our first topic.

On the one hand, I have witnessed the life changing tools provided by technology that can give people the ability to see, move, hear, share stories, reduce pain… the list goes on.

Yet, what is unbelievable is that those resources are not shared by all. Due to the discrepancy of resources and knowledge that are attained by different classes, the gap continues to be increase.

While the main culprit is not technology, but the various other continuous systemic issues, technology does play a part in perpetrating those gaps.

In the end, this is such a tricky question because yes, it is completely extraordinary what it can assist people with. However, if it not available, implemented, taught and practiced the gap only grows.

Debate #1: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

The members on both sides of the debate provided excellent insight and provided valid evidence on their side of the argument.  The pre-vote was interesting to see with 92.5% of onlookers agreeing that technology in the classroom enhances learning, and 7.5% disagreed.  Technology has changed drastically in the past 30 years, and it has changed the way we live and work.  In his TED Talk, Jason Brown made some valid points on how more children than ever have media devices on them at all times, with 16% of 8-11 year old children owning 5 or more media devices, 72% of 12-15 year old  year old children own 3 or more media devices, and 51% of households with a child between the ages of 3 and 15 have a tablet.  This data was measured in the United Kingdom in 2011, so in 2022 those numbers are inevitably higher.  By using technology, students can access more information than previous generations.  Thirty years ago, students could only gain information by asking people, or by reading books.  Today, educators and students can connect to individuals throughout the world and provide a level of learning and instruction that has not been used in past generations.  With technology in the classroom growing every year, it is important to utilize it to your own potential and relate lessons based on students’ interests.

I utilize technology daily in the classroom, but I completely understand why many disagree and feel that it does not enhance learning.  The group on the side of the debate who disagree made some valid points that made me second guess some of my beliefs.  Are there issues I run into with technology on a regular basis?  Absolutely!  Students find ways to bend the rules of using technology in the classroom, and they become distracted because of it.  I completely agree with the notion that having a device where one can communicate with their peers, browse social media, and explore the technological world is an addiction.  At times, I feel as though I am addicted to my phone and I need to make a conscious effort to live in the moment and put my phone away at times.  However, this is much different for students in my class who are 12-13 years old who do not fully comprehend what these devices can do.  Obesity and anxiety are two major issues that are affecting students throughout the world, and the abundance of technology readily available contributes to these issues.

Overall, there is no denying that we are living in a growing technological society, but it is up to the school and teacher to determine how to navigate through this confusing time to get the most out of their students with the resources you have.  I feel as though there is no winning to this debate, as everyone has their own opinions on it.  However, the post-vote to the debate changed drastically with 51.3% of the class agreeing technology enhances learning, and 48.7% disagreeing.  Great job to both groups!

Round One… Ding-Ding!

Spring EC&I 830’s first debate topic was “Technology in the classroom enhances learning.”

I agree with what Kat said in her blog post, this debate is not black and white but full of grey areas. I, for one, am a huge advocate for technology in the classroom. I think it builds 21st-century learning skills and competencies that students will greatly benefit from discovering at a young age. However, that being said, the ‘disagree’ side of the debate made really good points about screen time, mental health, distractions, and the pressures that it puts on teachers to add “one more thing” to our workload.

I will add, however, that the agree side did a great job of combating the disagree’s side. We can teach Ribble’s 9 Elements of digital citizenship, and help students understand the proper use of technology in the classroom in preparation for the potential of having a 1:1 device in a career and having to focus on the task at hand, rather than the constant distractions. These distractions are not going away, but learning proper study and work habits with them around should help students in the future.

I think the end results spoke for themselves. Still, a majority of students in ECI830 agreed that technology enhances education, but the disagree percentage increased as we saw the quality and valid information presented. What this class debate showed us is that there are a number of very important criteria that we must be cognizant of in our pedagogical approaches. We must be mindful of screen time, mental health and wellness, digital citizenship, and ensuring we are not simply substituting a laptop for pen and paper.

As Kelly so eloquently put it in class, using technology with bad pedagogy does not mean that the technology is enhancing student learning. A good tool to use, as I mentioned in my first blog post, is the SAMR model or the ISTE standards. See here for an article that discusses the importance of Ed Tech from the agree side, and this article looking at the negative effects of tech in the classroom.

By following these pedagogical guides, we can ensure that the technology integration into our classrooms are actually benefiting students’ education rather than creating a larger problem. My personal and professional beliefs are that tech integration is the way of the future and the quality points of risk that the disagreement side of the debate presented do not outweigh the positives that technology can bring to education.

Great job to the debaters this week! Well done!

Dalton

Debate #1- Is Technology in the Classroom Worth the Battle?

To start off, I want to explain that I was very much on the agree side before this debate. I have only ever had minimal problems due to technology in the classroom and wouldn’t be able to teach like I do without it. Since I took part in the agree side of the debate, IContinue reading "Debate #1- Is Technology in the Classroom Worth the Battle?"

PTSD: Post Tough Debate Syndrome

The Aftermath…

A friend of mine who is an attorney once described his rehearsal process for cross examing a witness. On the way to court he would practice in the car trading imaginary barbs back and forth with himself (he likened it to verbal shadow boxing). Like all good legal counsel he had anticipated the opposition’s arguments and had developed a series of strategies for dealing with them. Generally this would go pretty well in his head and he would feely pretty confident. Once in front of the judge those same questions he had drilled beforehand always seemed to lack the punch and emphasis they did on the way there. Time seemed to go by faster and he said he would stammer more than usual. Leaving court he would always feel he could have done better. Once back in the car again, he would buckle his seat belt, and with the benefit of hindsight, deliver the most devastating cross examination in legal history to his rearview mirror.

This was what participating in the first round of debates felt like to me. Soon as I logged off Zoom and turned off my computer I delivered a tour de force series of counter arguments while brushing my teeth. By the time I got to folding laundry I had completely devastated my opposition. Perhaps next time I will sort socks while debating, it brings out the best in me.

That said, here are some of my thoughts on this weeks debates and associated readings.

Round 1: Arguments For and Against Technology Enhancing Classroom Learning

I will start by discussing some of the arguments against this statement. Something that struck me early was the assertion that social media was diminishing the ability of students to form authentic connections with one another. I must admit that this argument appeals to me on a primal level: I did not grow up with social media (“twitter” was and always will be to me a sound that a budgie makes), I find it scary, and therefore I avoid it unless absolutely necessary. On the other hand I can’t help but recognize that my beliefs reflect my lack of familiiarity with these platforms. Is texting a more shallow form of communication than speaking in person? I sometimes wonder if people reacted in a similar way when telephones displaced letter writing as our primary means of correspondence.

It was stated early in the debate that technology had not yielded significant educational gains despite its widespread adoption. This idea deserves to be unpacked as it feels a bit vague. Are we speaking about international standardized testing scores like PISA? Are we referring to reading comprehension levels or the retention of math facts? At what grade level? Where? Secondly, it is difficult to attribute success or failure to a single variable in education. If significant advancements have not occurred can we pinpoint technology as the culprit? Could other factors be at play? We have to remember that correlation is not equivalent to cause.

This is not to say the group arguing against technology did not make valid points. In the internet article they posted (from Western Governors University) the spectre of cyber bullying was raised. The article notes that cyber bullying is an unintentional side effect of our rapid adoption of technology in the education system. This reflects my personal experiences as a high school teacher as almost all fights that break out at my school originate in some form online, and are quite difficult to diffuse.

Technology has other unintended side affects as well. In his article “Four Ways Technology Has Negatively Changed Education” Dr. Alhumaid observed that the overuse of technology dulls the rapport that exists between teachers and students. This rings true in my own classroom. Since I started using a data projector in my lessons I have noticed a growing distance between myself and my students. The problem became so acute that I resorted to limiting its use to raise engagement levels. I think that this is more of a problem with the way I am using technology, rather than the technology itself.

This directly connects to an article that was posted by the group advocating for technology. In it Mcknight et al. assert that “instructional methods cause learning…when instructional methods remain the same, so does the learning, no matter which medium is used to deliver instruction” (p. 195). This points to the root cause of a lack of engagement my classroom, simply using technology to do the same old thing isn’t really innovation, and is not the fault of the tech being employed.

Round 2: Arguments For and Against Educational Technology Increasing Equity

I found that during the second debate, which my team participated in, I couldn’t help but concede some of the points that the other group was making. Now that it is all over I can safely say that in many respects technology may increase equity, despite my vehement arguments to the contrarty.

When available and implemented with sufficient training, technology does make the classroom a more equitable place for those with disablities. Last year I taught a student who was visually impaired and without the ability to send my lessons electronically to our brailists his classroom experience would have been greatly diminished. This combined with his access to an tablet computer and an educational assistant made him one my most engaged students. I cannot fathom how difficult a task teaching him would have been even a few decades ago. What bothers me is that had this student had the misfortune of being born in a different part of Canada, or a different country altogether, his educational experience may have been greatly diminished.

Technology may also be instrumental in helping prepare schools for the needs of individual learners. As Amundson and Ko (2021) observed data systems in schools are lagging far behind the private sector when it comes to delivering meaningful information about individual learners. If Netflix can accurately predict that I want to watch nothing but shows about dogs and food when I come home from a long day of work, how is it that schools can’t even recieve basic information about new student transfering in? We could be doing better, and adimittedly technology could help.

That said the assertion that technology is becoming more affordable is debatable. In the article “Increasing Access to Educaion is Incremental” Matt Jenner predicts that the slow growth of digital learning platforms and tools will slowly reduce the gaps in educational equity and allow everyone to eventually access high quality education. I want nothing more for this to be true (I always hoped the future would be like Star Trek the Next Generation, and less like George Orwell’s 1984), but my experience in the real world tells me otherwise. Education is a powerful tool, it grants access to power structures and wealth, and I can’t see those who currently hold both of these things giving it up so easily. Call me cynical, but I think those that have power desperately want to retain it, and will do so at the expense of others.

The Blessings of Technology in my Daily Life!

Straight outta Nigeria

Four years ago, I embarked on this daring journey leaving behind my aged parents, siblings, friends, and life as I knew it. I came to California where my husband and I only know each other. This new normal has made me appreciate technology more than I would have ever envisaged. I am often on video calls with my people back home, it sometimes feels like they are next door! It does not make up for the physical touch, or human connection but for the life, I want for myself, for the life the people that love me that I left behind wish for me, this is sufficient (till further notice). 

I cannot deny the daily blessings of technology in my daily life. Have you ever imagined how food was preserved prior to refrigerators being introduced? We are familiar with the mode of transportation back then, thanks to movies! The gaps technology has helped to bridge, the limitations it has taken care of. At the moment, I am blessed to be taking my master’s classes in the comfort of my room. Even if that isn’t the best, as a mother, I am super glad I have this option. Learning on zoom and other platforms has been pivotal to my staying sane these past years.





When I was pregnant with my son three years ago, with no family member present, google was literarily my best friend!

I felt a kick that felt like the baby wants to come out of my belly button, is that normal?

Why do I feel like chewing ice?

And three years later, I still can’t quantify how much technology has been a blessing to me.

Giving so many accolades to technology has not blinded me from its dangers. However, the blessings to me supersede the cons. I have been conscious to use it in moderation and have a balance. Just like every other thing in life, excess of everything is bad. In summary, my daily life starts with my phone and ends with my phone, I watch movies and like to read feeds on social media platforms. I am working on using information communications technology more productively (like this blog) and in other ways too.

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.

Another Day, Another App

Technology is a large part of my life and was an early interest of mine. I remember being young and the Doctor telling me that one-day gamers will have all the skills to be surgeons because everything will be through a computer. Although there are many years of school, along with an interest in biology to be a “gamer surgeon”, I just liked the idea of integrated technology in life. 

Whether I like it or not, technology is the first thing I use in the morning, and the last thing checked before bed. It has been for a while, and that is because my phone is now my alarm. I do not check my technology when I wake up; I will make it to work before I fully dive into a technology-filled day. Although I enjoy music in the mornings and rely on my Google assistant to tell me what the weather is looking like that day and tell me a joke or exciting fact before I leave in the morning.

Technology at work without involving the students is emails, communications, and data. It is not the things that necessarily thrill me about technology but necessary to be productive. I am always looking for new tools on Twitter or with colleagues with the students. I enjoy finding something new and then trying it out. There are always pros and cons, but it is incredible to have the students engaged and lead the exploration of a new application. Last week I heard on The Chey and Pav Show: Teachers Talking Teaching Episode 87. They talked about using Google Drawings and making Mosaic portraits linked to identity. However, I’ve used Google Drawing before and never used it in this light. The next time I was teaching the grade 3s/4s, it fits perfectly into our identity unit, so the students were currently in the process of making a mosaic. It was fun to explore with them, and when their curiosity peaked, I could give them tips and tricks to make it easier. 

Due to not being in a classroom full time in my role, I also enjoy sharing applications with teachers and encouraging them to explore with their students. I like this because I always get quick feedback from both the students and the teachers about the pros and cons. When I can get in there, they can teach me about it, even better! 

After school, technology runs a good part of my evening. Every day when I get home, I lay in bed for fifteen minutes and scroll through TikTok. Say what you want about TikTok, but I love it. It is the only social media app that makes me happy, and I don’t even interact with my friends on it. The algorithm gives me a small taste of everything I love: technology, gaming, woodworking, cooking, amazon products, and funny videos. I learn something on TikTok mostly every time I scroll through it. 

In the evenings, I usually wind my time downplaying games with friends. I have always enjoyed gaming because I am competitive. I do appreciate that it allows my friends and me to connect more frequently than we do in person. I stay in touch with family and have made some great friends online. Even if we are not playing the same game, sometimes it is just chatting through discord to stay connected rather than talking on the phone. 

Servers of interests, voice/video chats. Discord is an awesome application to stay in touch or find others with similar interests.

Technology has always been and will most likely remain a large portion of my life. I am always fascinated with the endless possibilities and the ease of access. I am looking forward to connecting with everyone throughout ECI830 this spring semester for some new ideas on utilizing technology to help keep the students engaged and curious learners. 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this blog post. Hope you have a great week. I encourage you to take a risk with technology in your classroom this week and I guarantee the students will surprise you with their knowledge!

A Day of Tech Vlog

Last semester I blogged about A Day in the Life of Mrs. Cheese Robot Lady (my last name is pronounced cheddar and this is how students identify me), so I thought I would switch it up and create a vlog of my tech use. Fridays are typically my office days, so sadly there were no robotics lessons to film today. Watch my TikTok below:

@leahtschetter

a day in my life with tech for #eci830 … an embarrassing amount of tech 😳 #Friday

♬ original sound – leahtschetter

Happy Teaching,

Leah