When I applied to become an Instructional Technology Consultant with South East Cornerstone I asked myself what is educational technology and how can it be used to support students and teachers. I ended up drafting and developing a personal philosophy of educational technology, based around our division philosophy and goals. Upon reflecting on this philosophy at the time there are pieces that I still believe in, as well as pieces that have changed and evolved as I have grown as an educator. I believe that technology can be used as a vehicle for learning and it needs to be embedded throughout our teaching practice. However, teachers mustn’t view technology as the goal of learning. Effective technology use in the classroom involves having a purpose.
I try to tie all the work I do with teachers and students to the ISTE standards. These standards that are laid out for educators and students pave the way for students to develop the 4Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking). By looking at how these standards can tie into my lessons on technology reinforce that my teaching practice with technology has meaning. Furthermore, I also try to be mindful and follow some different technology integration frameworks such as the SAMR model, TPack, and the LoTi framework. These models again push my technology integration to become more meaningful for students.
In the past seven months, we have seen the importance of educational technology. We have seen the positives that educational technology provides, such as the ability to connect with educators, colleagues, and engage in professional development at a distance. However, we have also seen how these technologies can have negative consequences as well. Inappropriate technology use, technology burnout, ‘Zoom fatigue’. I have had many situations where I have been asked for advice on how to limit technology for certain students because of inappropriate use, or have had parents ask me how to restrict Wi-Fi access to their students, teachers who are just “done with technology”. We need to model for our students the effective use of technology. Part of my contemporary definition of educational technology revolves around the responsible use of technology, as opposed to the acceptable use of technology. This is expanded on in Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt’s Digital Citizenship Education
in Saskatchewan Schools. Furthermore, students need to be provided with appropriate digital citizenship, and currently, this is ever more important. Vicki Davis provides an excellent post about two essential approaches to digital citizenship, proactive knowledge, and experiential knowledge.
I will be the first one to admit, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY. This being said, I never have spent a lot of time focusing outside of how can technology also be a negative influence, besides the last class I took with Alec where we debated many topics around technology. However, I found Neil Postman’s article Five Things we Need to Know About Technological Change so interesting. He lists off five points that highlight the consequences of any technology integration.
- Technology is a trade-off.
- The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population.
- Embedded in technology there is a powerful idea.
- Technological change is not additive; it is ecological
- Media tend to become mythic.
I have spent time thinking on Postman’s first point, technology as a trade-off. When we look at social media. Despite the positives of connection, and real-time knowledge. The trade-off is essentially everything that The Social Dilemma (View it on Netflix) highlights, fake news, loss of in-person connection, polarization, mental health issues. Furthermore, highlighting the need to address and these issues with our students.
Audrey Walters also highlights in the 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade some of the edtech endeavors that did not pan out. Some of these I would debate, the effectiveness of the flipped classroom, and 3D printing in education. However, many of the debacles highlighted are forgotten edtech apps, projects, or technology that raise excellent points of why these did not pan out. I think when we are using any type of new technology it is important to be mindful of the points in Postman’s articles. Also, realize that it is important to be mindful of the technologies you are using and how the technology is using students’ data. Often when we are using a technology that is “free” we are trading and allowing companies to trade off our data to third-party companies. So “free” might not always be better. Privacy is a major concern, and thus it is important to understand what companies are doing with our data.
In conclusion, educational technology integration needs to be purposeful, it needs to be explicitly taught and modeled to students, and expectations and routines around educational technology need to be co-created with students. Teachers need to be mindful that it isn’t about the next big tech tool, or about implementing 30 different apps and programs in their teaching practice. Use technology that works for you and your students.