Since this class is an “Educational Technology” class, you would think it would be difficult to convince any of us that technology in the classroom can hinder learning. However, during last week’s Great EdTech Debate the disagree side argued some very strong points and I found my own opinions being pulled in opposite directions. Elizabeth and Ashley are just some of the others who are feeling the same way as me. In the words of Natalie Imbruglia’s 90s hit song: I’m Torn! ( Sorry- I know you will all have that song stuck in your head now.) This is not something new for me, in ECI 832 I wrote several blog posts discussing my struggle with the good and bad sides of technology. Sherry Turkle offers some controversial, but thought provoking thoughts on the topic.
Both the agree and disagree side made some very convincing points during the debate. Technology in the classroom is truly transforming education and providing teachers and students with an endless amount of possibility. Collaboration, student ownership, and asynchronous environments are just a few of the tools that technology provides. The agree side debate team did a great job arguing their points, but none of that information was really “new” to me. The disagree side however, brought to light certain arguments that I had not considered, such as having properly trained teachers or the distraction technology can cause.
I would like to focus on the distraction piece because this is something I struggle with personally as a teacher, but until this debate had never given it much more than a frustrated thought. So often when students are using devices (usually chromebooks) in my classroom, I find myself continually having to watch to make sure they are not using it for other purposes or getting “distracted”. Our school has a program called Go Guardian that allows teachers to track what students are doing on their chromebooks. It is very useful, but doesn’t solve the problem because I still catch kids watching YouTube videos while they should be doing something else. I am also at a school that does not allow cellphones in the classroom. The reason for this? Because of the distractions they cause and the misuse of the device. 1:1 or BYOD can be a powerful tool, and as much as we try to educate students on the proper use of devices in the classroom, we can’t control if they are sending Snapchats while you are teaching a math lesson.
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Although I think these are major issues with technology in the classroom, I will admit that I couldn’t imagine teaching without it. Being in my 5th year of teaching, I have had access to technology my whole teaching career. The opportunities I have and the resources I can use are great. So again, I find myself being torn in both directions. But perhaps, like so many things in life, it is all about balance. Technology in the classroom should be utilized, but it should not be the sole resource we use to educate our students.