Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning?
Interesting debate topic, and interesting points made last week. When I think of technology in the classroom, my own limited knowledge leads me to imagine rolling in the computer cart and having students explore an interesting website I have previously vetted (like Mathletics). This first debate topic challenged me to expand my definition of ‘technology’. This is not the first Master’s class where I have come to know multiple layers of meaning for words I thought I had known previously (such as sustainability, mobility, curriculum etc.).
Before this debate I had not thought about technology assisting students with learning disabilities. Of course I have students use technology this way, but have never thought about what school would be like for those students if their assistive technology was not allowed in the classroom. I was also struck by the information in the video presentation about the importance of the teacher being knowledgeable and comfortable with technology. I believe this responsibility should be shared between the teacher and their employer. Personally, I need to get over my intimidation and make efforts to become more comfortable with technology.
In Eric Sheninger’s twitter article, I appreciate his emphasis on the fact that giving students ownership of learning gives them ‘something to do’. Through technology they can “… demonstrate conceptual mastery through the construction of new knowledge, as well as the acquisition and application of essential skill sets.”
Another point that arose from the debate that I think brings value to technology in the classroom is how it facilitates differentiation. In any given classroom, students vary in their academic levels, processing speeds, learning styles, interests etc. What better way to meet learning needs than with technology? That said, I repeat the emphasis that was placed on the need for ‘direct teacher instruction to maximize learning potential’. Sam Carlson’s article points out that “…effective instruction… encourages development of higher-order thinking and information-reasoning skills among students, and socially constructed collaborative learning, all of which are increasingly required in today’s knowledge-based economy.”
I realize that Beland and Murphy’s article indicates that “The existing literature on the impact of technology in the classroom implies that the unstructured presence of technology has ambiguous impacts on student achievement”, but having taken statistics, I realize that results can be skewed in ‘specific’ directions. I also know that technology is costly and that some believe it interferes with learning. All things considered, I believe that when teachers are properly trained, and the school has access to ‘up to date’ technology, it can be a window for students into endless potential.
I thought Sherry Turkle had an interesting point in her TED talk when she says that technology ‘may be taking us places we don’t want to go’. She refers to our ‘development of human relationships’. I don’t think that this is indicative when talking about the use of technology in the classroom, but it is interesting to think about in the bigger picture.
I can see the point that Valerie Strauss makes in her article about college students and how their performance is affected by multitasking (cell phones, laptops, etc). After all, the software and hardware have been designed to distract. I think it is a good idea for college students to use cell phones at breaks, and I’m not sure how to control laptop use since many use them for note taking.
I appreciate the ‘zoom room’ for how it allowed visual and audio communication for 39 people at once, last week. So cool !
I would like to close by saying that I think that the possibilities of reaching students and contributing to their learning through technology is endless. I would also like to thank Ainsley for pointing out that interesting Ted talk with Andrew Essex. What better way to inspire students learning than by offering incentives whereby they can get more access to technology.