Technology & the Classroom – Finding Balance in 2018

“Technology could be seen as the culprit, or it could be harnessed to improve engagement and effectiveness.” 6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018 

We’ve all heard a colleague say it…

” I just don’t have the time to learn about all this new technology I’m supposed to be using.”

Does anyone else worry about the state of education when they hear these words? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we have a problem if this is how some are looking at technology in education.

Photo Credit: BECCA PONS [bp] + CREATIVE Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it – we are busy! We have about 101 things on our plates each day that we need to accomplish in order to feel like we are properly supporting the students in our schools. Most days, I feel like I get done about 25% of the things I set out to do. There are also those days where I feel like a super teacher because somehow I have managed to cross EVERYTHING off my list… until I make another but I’ll take the celebration while I can.

This week in #eci830 we were tasked with the creating a response to an in-class debate on whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning and both sides of the debate presented valid points. Prior to the debate, I would have told you I was 100% on the agree side of this statement and I still am but the disagree side challenged my thinking!  If we aren’t challenging what we think we know, then are we really learning?

While reading the article from the quote below there were two phrases that continued to come to my mind: hidden curriculum and teachable moments.

“Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject.“ –  Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom by Timothy Smith

I certainly do not believe that technology is going to be the ‘be all end all’ in education but what I do believe is that it is not going away. If we think back 10 or even 5 years, the changes in technology in our world are enormous. As educators, we are tasked with the job of preparing our students for life outside of the K-12 education system. If we are truly preparing them for that world then we need to realize that how we have taught in the past is not going to work. We can’t expect to continue to use teaching methods from 20-30 years ago and integrate technology all at the same time. There simply are not enough minutes in a day for that and I’m not convinced that makes for best practice! Removing some of “what we’ve always done” and thinking in ways that allow for engagement of all not only benefits students but also allows the teacher to engage in the learning process with students. I think this is why I kept going back to the idea of teachable moments and the hidden curriculum.

When teachers are willing to let go of the idea that they need to be the one who holds all the knowledge and embrace that learning alongside students is also learning, we are in a space that then allows for a change in teaching practice and pedagogical growth. For me, this does not mean that we need to see technology used all day, every day in our classrooms. To me, this means balance. When bringing technology into the classroom, balance combined with informed and intentional teaching practices, in my opinion, is what creates learning environments that will prepare our students for life outside of the classroom.

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Do you see balance in this video?

I this video I see a few things: students who are engaged, collaboration, hands-on learning, technology, pencil paper tasks and excitement for learning.

What would I change about this learning environment? I don’t think we should remove technology from the main classroom, I think we need to integrate it into what we are already doing. There is no doubt these students are learning and developing problem-solving skills. However, are they seeing the connections that can be made with what they are doing in their classroom? Perhaps a better understanding of the school set up here would be helpful.

What do you see or think about how these students are engaging with technology?

 

 

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8 comments

  1. Hey Nicole! Great post. I agree with your idea of integrating newer ideas into our practices instead of trying to keep with tradition and also include the new! It’s too time consuming and it actually becomes even more work. I agree that we need to toss out some of our older ideas, and attempt to integrate tech so that it enhances the learning, and doesn’t seem “thrown in.” I think it’s important to keep ourselves sane too and not expect to use all these new tools OR to replace every old method with something new and inclusive to technology. Some things are just better the old way. For example, our school tried to introduce some online versions of novels and students actually HATED it! They wanted to hold and read a real book. Some of us were shocked, but students said they get distracted or bored reading lots of text on their phones and they would rather read a physical copy. I love your idea of balance too. I feel the same way in my classroom and I enjoy learning with my students. They are more engaged, they feel a bigger role in the learning process and I’ve even had students teach me different ideas that they have learned. It’s really refreshing and gives them ownership. Again, great post! 🙂

    • I’d be with your students on that one, love reading an actual book but can’t stay focused when reading on my iPad! Definitely agree that we need to keep some of what we have always done and enhance/change others.

    • That’s so interesting Shelby that they would choose paper copies version ebook versions. It is great to see that they recognize what tool works best for them for the novel reading task. I used to be like your students, but since changing to the “night” or dark setting has made ebooks now preferable to me. What grade(s) do you teach Shelby?

      • I teach high school! They spend so much time on devices now and with the push for educators to incorporate more tech use in the classroom, it really doesn’t surprise me that they would rather have a good old fashioned book! I’m the same way!:)

      • Good point about how much they use their devices. I teach grade 5/6 and about half of them are choosing ebooks and half choosing paper books during reading time.

  2. Great post! I also agree that balance is key! Teaching can be very overwhelming like you mentioned and it feels like we already have 500 things to do in a day. I can totally relate with how teachers feel that adding in technology can feel like it is just another thing to learn and do. With that being said I also agree that we are preparing our students for a world where they will need to understand technology and understand the skills that go along with using technology. Therefore as teachers we must be committed to making sure we are providing them with the opportunities that will prepare them for this ever changing world.

  3. I think it’s also so important to remember that we can’t provide them with every opportunity, every day! Starting with something small, changing that and then working from there. Little steps!

  4. You are so right that balance is key. Although I have a class set of laptops we don’t use them all of the time. Technology has a place and time to enhance learning, but hands on and outdoor learning can also be powerful learning tools. I think that especially in the younger grades when developing fine motor skills, hands on is way more important than technology. As students get older they are better able to use technology as a tool for learning, but it should still be in combination with other strategies and tools. The way students in the video you shared are using technology in a hands on way is fantastic and engaging.

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