To start off, I want to explain that I was very much on the agree side before this debate. I have only ever had minimal problems due to technology in the classroom and wouldn’t be able to teach like I do without it. Since I took part in the agree side of the debate, I spent a lot of time reading and researching how technology helps with education. After this debate, I still agree that technology enhances learning, even if my opponents had many great arguments that I can definitely agree with. But in the end of it all, if used appropriately, technology definitely enhances learning. in the classroom.
With this post, I want to take the arguments that were said and relate them to my experience with technology in the classroom so I am able to really reflect on both sides of this debate.
Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)
What is Technology Enhanced Learning? Emma Cullen explains in her article that TEL is: is any technology that enhances the learning experience. This means that technology is used to maximize student learning in a way that gives them the best education possible.
Here is why TEL is Important in the Classroom
- Access to information and resources– If I didn’t have my work laptop to find lesson plans, I would be eating supper at school! I would be translating and making my own worksheets since there is a huge lack of resources in French. My students would also lack access to important news articles that aren’t always found in textbooks. In the study done by McKnight et al, they found that: “technology improved access for teachers as well as for students, to more up-todate learning resources and to materials at anytime and anywhere“.
- Increases Engagement– When I think of my students who need hands on and interactive learning, who weren’t designed for “traditional school”, I love seeing them achieve great things! My students are working on a podcast on our laptops right now and you should see their engagement! And it’s in French too! It’s great for those who have different skills to be able to shine and the others can work on these skills as well.
- Tech skills- WGU explains in their article that in a classroom that uses technology: “Children can start getting technological skills early that they’ll need in the future.” This also goes with skills within digital citizenship, which are needed to be taught in the classroom since so many students use their phones without having the knowledge of safety online. And of course, many jobs require tech skills, even as small as typing, so why not start early and give them the most practice possible.
- Teacher Time– I really appreciate that technology has made some of those… not so great teacher tasks we have to do a bit more manageable. Communicating with parents is much easier which makes problem-solving faster, inputting marks can be done on one screen and tech platforms like Edsby make attendance easier for everyone! We have a lot more time for what we went to University for: teaching!
- Communication and Collaboration: Having access to technology allows students to get a learning experience that is worldwide. Jason Brown has many valid points in his TEDTalk about using technology: ” There are people out there whose passion is your subject and they want to make your students feel enriched and engaged in their subject”. With the ability to communicate with others, kids can learn and be more engaged when it’s real. For example, my students were able to listen to Chris Hadfield present his take on space in a livestream. Many schools in Regina have an Elder that is able to tell their real life stories by Zoom which makes it so that the important sides of history are being heard.
- Accomodations for equity– We need to keep in mind the students that are unable to have a traditional education. As teachers, we know that every kid is different there are many adaptation to be made. Using technology can helps them achieve in school. Assistive technology like Google Read and Write, or even a teacher using a microphone are all pieces of technology that give students the best chance at maximizing their educational experience.
Here is Why Technology in the Classroom Can Be Difficult
My opponents had many great points about technology in the classroom and I have definitely had to deal with some of these problems. With these points, I also want to choose the ones that I have had experience within the classroom.
- Distractions and disconnections– This is probably the biggest drawback to technology in my classroom. Even when I am monitoring them, it can be difficult to get them started and get them off when I ask them to. Games are also a thing and kids know how to change tabs so fast! There was even a professor that asked for their students to put all technology away during lectures. Many people are so stuck on their screen and disconnected from the world around them.
- Attention span- We are all used to having things at a click of a button ( Amazon Prime!) Kids that still need to practice this don’t understand how to pay attention when it’s important. ( Like when their teacher is talking). The more technology they use, the less practice they have at being patient.
- Using technology properly- The amount of times I have had to ask students to stop using Google Translate is astounding! Knowing how to use technology is a big part in making it beneficial in the classroom. In this article by MakeAnAppLike, they talk about plagiarism and false information which happens quite a bit. This doesn’t just go for students. Teachers also need to know how to use it correctly. And sometimes, it’s hard to get that education. For me, I’m grateful to have been brought up with technology and at this rate, we might just need to gain experience with technology as we go. Isn’t that how it works in a classroom anyway?
- Access to technology: My classroom only has 1 laptop per 2 students and it can be difficult to share. It takes a lot on my end to plan when I want them to work on something individually online.
- Phyisical and emotional wellbeing: WGU has a great article on many of these effects. Technology takes a big toll on our physical bodies. Kids (and adults) need to move more! Technology can also lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety ( which can be from cyberbullying, being unsafe, and negative body image). However, technology will always be in our lives and I do think moderation is important in everything we do! We simply need to teach our youth the correct ways to use technology.
Even though there are many drawbacks to technology in the classroom, I still lean towards understanding how beneficial it is. I know there are still many reasons why technology can make a classroom more difficult, but there are still so many reasons why it should be used. Since this debate was about enhancing learning, every teacher needs to find a balance when using it in the classroom. Balance is key! Having rules set in place and knowing when to use it in a way that enhances student learning. Moderation is important in the classroom! And of course, we know that technology is and will always be in our life. We should be using its advantages and setting our students up for a great future with the skills and practice they need.
Do you think technology is worth the battle in your classroom?