On Tuesday we started the great Edtech debate. Nancy and Amanda arguing that technology in the classroom enhances learning, whereas Trevor and Matt arguing against the same claim. Both of the videos were creative and engaging. Kudos to both duos for setting the bar so high.
Prior to the debate, I would side very much so on the pro-technology side of the argument. I believe that there needs to be a balance of technology in the classroom. Technology needs to have a purpose, it cannot be the goal. Technology is the vehicle for learning. Being such a pro-technology person and teacher I was excited to hear the opposing argument.
Nancy and Amanda brought up some great points in the video. Some of the main points that resonated with me include. The aspect of connecting when a physical connection is taken away. Currently, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has changed our daily lives. I am curious if this happened forty or fifty years ago, would the lack of technology, resulting in a lack of connection, lead to further mental health problems? The ability to connect is the 5th C that technology allows us to have communication with others that would otherwise be unsafe, or impossible in the past. Nancy and Amanda highlighted that the best part of online learning is that it can happen anywhere and at any time. We have the ability to collaborate with one another, and we don’t even need to be in the same place. With technology, schools can go beyond the traditional walls and reach a larger audience, which provides more engagement for our students.
Nancy and Amanda shared an inspiration video that shows the importance of connection. This video highlights how technology can bring people together. It also further promotes the ability for us to reach a larger audience. Imagine the connections that we can have in the classroom if we connect with other classrooms globally. We have so much that we can learn from each other.
Matt and Trevor did bring up many good counterpoints. Many classroom teachers use unnecessary technology in education. In this claim often I see teachers using technology for the purpose of using technology. Your finished your assignment, here is an iPad to consume the rest of the class. Furthermore, Trevor and Matt explain this technology does not have any pedagogical value if used without purpose. In addition, Trevor and Matt include that screentime and technology addition are downfalls of technology that can harm student’s wellbeing.
In the article, The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Is Not What We Expected, it is highlighted an interesting perspective of the need to go back to screen-free lifestyles. The article brings up the new digital divide, stating that more affluent families with children will experience less screen time than those of poorer and middle-class families. The argument states that there is a concern that children will not know how to interact with other people, and the need to revert to play-based learning.
Within the class discussion, I found some key points that were being shared. We discussed that often with technology, schools and school divisions do not have the infrastructure, time, or money to provide meaningful training for the apps and programs that they use. Alec brought up an excellent point suggesting that 50% split between hardware and training. I shared in the class that I find that technology can provide a voice for those who are more unwilling to share in the classroom setting. Jill countered my claim stating that she is finding the opposite. She found in online classroom students are more likely to sit and be passive learners not willing to share as often as in the classroom. Melinda brought up an excellent point, often these tools can reduce some of the anxieties that students have. A tool like Flipgrid could allow students multiple chances to redo their response until it was something that they were comfortable with sharing.
Another post that Nancy and Amanda directed us to is George Couros‘s Myths of Technology Series specifically the myth That Technology Equals Engagement. I found this interesting as it gives validity to both sides of the debate. Often we hear that students are so engaged when they are using technology. As educators, we need to recognize the difference between “engagement” and “novelty”. As educators, we need to view this from a different lens. We need to move from engaging students to empowering them. George highlights the difference between compliance, engagement, and empowerment.
- Compliance – Do this because I told you.
- Engagement – Do this because you are excited.
- Empowerment – Do this because you have the power to do something meaningful for yourself.
In conclusion, technology needs to be used as a tool FOR learning, and must have a purpose. The debate was able to highlight both sides of the argument. Being so pro-technology in the classroom I believe it is important educators try to understand why some teachers are reluctant to use the technology in the classroom. Trevor and Matt did a great job of highlighting these pieces.
My mind has slightly changed, I will always promote the use of technology in responsible ways in the classroom, but will be more mindful when I do.
I leave you with this quote from George’s series of myths.
If we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that empower our students to make a difference, our impact will go beyond their time they spent in our classrooms. Technology alone will never provide this.
– George Couros