Nothings Fine, I’m Torn

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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Photo Credit: JoePhilipson via Compfight cc

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.

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12 thoughts on “Nothings Fine, I’m Torn

  1. Erin Benjamin says:

    I agree Amy that it’s all about balance. I think that we need to have discussions with our students also about balance and help them understand that being attached to technology 24/7 isn’t necessarily good for their overall health. I know that I live a very distracted life…in so many ways and I’m really trying to work on focusing my attention on individual tasks rather than battling to multitask and then ending up very distracted. Maybe we need to teach our students these skills as well.

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    • Amy says:

      Erin your comment fits right in with last night’s debate about technology and health! It isn’t healthy to be dependent or addicted to the technology we have, it’s all about balance.

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  2. asingh2 says:

    First off, yes – you have officially got the song stuck in my head!

    I’m intrigued by your struggle. I don’t know if there is a solution to the distracted age we now live in. I do know that I think trying to control and limit them is futile. I do also know that research tells us that multi-tasking is not very productive, and yet the way our lives function almost dictate that we do it.

    I do know that I am guilty of it, and as an adult learner, I am constantly going between my devices and ‘multi-tasking’. At the end of the day, I still feel like I’m being an effective learner. Perhaps we need to give our learners the benefit of the doubt?

    Certainly something that requires a lot of thought and consideration! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    • Amy says:

      Thanks for the comment Amy. You are very right when you say that the way our lives function almost requires we are multi-taskers. But I do think there is a difference in multi-tasking and being distracted by technology.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. danielleistace says:

    I totally agree with you too. Balance is everything. I almost feel as though, these days, the technology is not so much the problem, as the balance we have of using it appropriately but still renaming connected to reality through real life interactions and day to day living. If we could create some balance between the two, maybe it would be more beneficial to education.

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  4. etherrienblog says:

    Great post, Amy! I completely agree with you; it is all about balance. I use the chromebooks often in my class using Google Classroom and such, but it is EXHAUSTING trying to ensure that all students are doing the work instead of playing online games or listening to youtube the entire time. I know that is it only a fraction of the class that is misusing the computers, but it still makes me want to take them away to simply avoid the problem. Of course I won’t, because it is more behavioral than anything, but it is frustrating, and makes our job even more difficult at times.

    Thanks for the great post!

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    • Amy says:

      I agree! The time I want to spend helping students, I often find myself spending all that time monitoring what they are doing online. But like you said, it’s not worth taking away the technology just because some students may be misusing it. As Amy also mentioned- we live in a distracted world and even as adults we are always multitasking.

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  5. ashleypmurray says:

    Haha love the song throw back! I also agree that we need to find balance and also try to manage the distractions. I know that I can easily be distracted and end up going from one thing to another multiple times throughout the day on my phone or computer. So how can I expect students to stay focused when I can’t do it myself?? I think it’s a skill we need to develop and I think that we need to understand that it can be distracting. But we need to try work on focusing on the task at hand so our students can practice that same focus outside of school when using technology as well.

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    • Amy says:

      Thanks for the reply Ashley! Yes it seems the only real solution to this problem is teaching balance, which is something we need in all areas of life!

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