Last Monday was the start of the Great Debate and the opening debate “Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning” did not disappoint! Doing the pre-vote I was pretty confident siding with the “agree” team but I have to say I found myself swaying between agree and disagree throughout the hour debate.
- Access to information
- Information is updated & relevant
- Offer different perspectives
- Online tools to facilitate sharing of information that is not always written
McKnight et al.’s article “Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning” provided some additional food for thought. McKnight et al. discussed how technology enhances communication and feedback. Technology allows students with the ability to collaborate with peers on their assignments. I can’t imagine completing group projects without the use of technology. They also discussed how technology extends purpose and audience. The point that resonated with me most though, was how technology has shifted the role of the teacher and student. Students are less reliant on teacher for the answers and technology has allowed students more opportunities to be the expert and choose topics that interest them. As an educator I can think of many ways that technology has enhanced my teaching and my own learning.
Even though the disagree side may have been more challenging to argue, I thought Nicole & Daryl provided a lot of thoughtful points on why technology in the classroom does not increase engagement including:
- Distraction – I think most teachers would agree that with technology comes distraction
- Decease in Real Connections (people & environment)
- Technology is Isolating Students – students struggling with social skills
- Physical Health & Mental Health Issues on the Rise
- Lack of Improvement in Achievement & Graduation Rates – If technology enhances learning why haven’t we seen more improvements?
Niel Patel’s article “The Positive & Negative Effects of Technology on Education and In Classroom in 2022 ” reiterated many of Daryl and Nicole’s key points but also had a few additional negative effects of technology in the classroom. A few were the rise in misinformation online (inaccurate information), the cost of technology in the classroom, and how technology has created opportunities to cheat. Within the elementary school I work in we are certainly seeing more students struggling with social skills, fine motor, and mental health but I am not sure we can place all of the blame on technology. I think the pandemic and the lack of socialization for many students has played a big role too. Another challenge with technology that our school is facing is issues/bullying related to social media.
Although both sides of the debate provided a lot to think about, I think the biggest takeaway for me came from the discussion about Balance.
As mentioned in Richard Chamber’s Ted Talk we are living in a society that is overloaded with technology and we need to find a balance. Students also need balance. In order to create a balanced approach in the classroom I think teacher’s need to consider the purpose of the technology they are using. The SARM approach, which was discussed in the resources, can help educators think about the role of technology in supporting students & learning. Is the technology allowing students opportunities to create something new? If technology is being used at the substitution level, maybe its a time that technology really isn’t necessary.
While I know I could keep going on this topic, I need to find my own balance! It’s time to shut off my computer and enjoy the semi decent May long weather!