This past week we debated about Technology and if it enhances education or not. My immediate reaction was “of course it does“!! The debate opened my thinking and expanded my understanding of Technology in schools and is challenging me to take a deeper and more critical look at Edtech and why I believe “of course it does!!”
The phrase”time on task” is popping in my head as I sit to write this post. Currently, my computer has frozen and the “program is not responding” message has popped up several times – delaying my start to this post… Perhaps its because I have over 15 tabs open with articles from last week’s debate and further reading as well as multiple program and browsers running?!? Then there was the “no service you cannot connect to the internet” this weekend as I tried to access the internet to do research for this blog post. I realized that everyone at the lake must be online as there was zero cell service and therefore zero research happening on the weekend… and how is this technology enhancing things for me right now?
Technology can be frustrating, but no pain no gain! It did eventually enhance my learning. Once I was able to get settled, and connected to a stable connection, I was able to do my research. I love being able to do research online as I can easily open additional tabs and learn more about speakers, topics, ideas, etc that are mentioned in the articles I’m reading for class. If I was just reading a paper copy I wouldn’t have that ability to go deeper into the research and broaden my knowledge. I am able to easily access information I need right away.
As mentioned in the debate, (funding, lack of knowledge in using devices, distractions, time on task) there are reasons to be frustrated with technology in education. Each “disagree” article I read, I just keep thinking and seeing that it isn’t about not using technology, but using it appropriately. The How, When and Why we use the technology is what leads to enhancing education.
Greg Toppo give a quick synopsis of the history of technology in education. There is no “school” without technology. Greg refers to Larry Cuban, and how he believes that technology is really any device that a teacher uses to instruct students in a more efficient and stimulating manner than just their voice. Technology is all around us in schools, from the desks we sit in to the boards we write on and the books we read. It’s not just the obvious computers and SMART boards.
The article “The Missing Link in Education Technology” reinforces the need for professional development in Ed-tech. It was an article that was used by the “disagree” side of the debate, but I found it agreeing that Technology DOES enhance learning as long as it is used efficiently. It can only be used efficiently if teachers now how to do this and are given the training. It’s great to sit in a PD about some cool new apps or technologies you can use with your students, but if you aren’t given the opportunity to sit and learn them it is impossible to implement them successfully. This is one area that I would advocate more for in the future when suggestions and new programs are implemented in my school. Teachers need more PD on technology.
Students being distracted is always going to be an issue in education. Who doesn’t remember passing notes in class or doodling? Maybe evening counting how many times your teacher said “um”. As with any thing in the classroom it boils down to keeping students engaged.
What are we doing to keep them engaged. What are the procedures and classroom management techniques were are using to keep students engaged and on task? Those are the questions we need to be asking ourselves when planning any lesson or activity.
Digital tools are transforming education when used appropriately. People do care what children think and through technology they are given a chance to show this. I think environment plays a huge part in education. In prekindergarten our environments set the stage for learning. I loved this part of the “5 Ways Digital tools are Transforming the Educational Space” article:
Create spaces for making, collaborating and tinkering. Give students chances to build and create using real-world tools (wood shop, electronics, metal work and coding stations) and to solve open-ended, real-world problems. Bring play back into the picture. These spaces provide students with challenging problems to solve where there is no one correct solution. Through self-directed learning, students are driven to find solutions to create a product that has value.
As an Early Childhood Educator I look to see where I can enhance the learning in my classroom with technology. I want to continue with digital documentation and sharing with families. I also think family education is key. NAEYC believes we have to be partners with families. We can partner with parents to nurture children’s curiosity, create experiences rich in interaction and language, and to enable children to discover their worlds.
As I move forward I will continue to adapt my approach to teaching by ways that I can engage and enhance student learning. I like visuals and really think that I will be able to use this the SMAR visual to help reflect on my practice.
So for now, I’m sticking with “Yes technology does enhance learning”, but we(teachers) have to be trained in how to use it effectively for each student as we would with any lesson or tool.