Posted in eci830

Tech as a Learning Tool

So the first great tech debate was about whether tech enhances learning or not.  Before the debate I was definitely on the tech enhances learning side.  After our initial vote, most of our class was also on the pro tech side of the debate.


Image from GIPHY

After listening to the debate, both sides made some excellent points. These are the points that stood out to me from both sides:

Both sides made the excellent point that the teacher is the key.  If tech is used correctly by the teacher it can enhance learning, but when tech is not used with pedagogy at the center tech can also take away from the learning.

Let’s start with some of the against side’s points and acknowledge that they had a rather difficult stance to take as this is a class all about tech, so one can assume that in general the class is pro tech use in the classroom.

TECH IS PRICEY

As pointed out by the against tech team in their debate and also in their shared article “Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom” tech is pricey.  As a connected educator with RCSD, my school division has provided my classroom with a 1:1 cart of laptops.  The other connected educators and I have been told each laptop cart is worth about…

$10,000


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So I can see that tech is not cheap.  It all depends on if the school or school division has the money for tech and how willing they are to choose to spend their budget on tech.  I luckily work in a school division that understands that tech can, key word CAN, be used to enhance learning and has devoted a large about of money to technology.  My school division also makes sure that teachers are ready and willing to use tech in ways that enhance learning before providing them with tech specifically for their classroom. This is not necessarily feasible for all schools or divisions.


Image from GIPHY

MORE TIME SPENT ON PRESENTATION WHEN USING TECH

Now I have seen this in my classroom, however I have also known students to take a long time to create a non-tech product like a poster or diorama.  I think it’s all about making sure tools, tech or not, are used to demonstrate learning, but that the main focus and majority of time is spent on the learning process.

STUDENTS DISTRACTED WITH TECH

As the against team pointed out and as seen in the article “6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018” shared by the pro team, tech can be a distraction for students. I have seen students in my class get distracted by tech, such as sneaking onto a game, video or other program when they should be working on another task on their laptop.  Part of the solution is making sure to teach and model for students how and when to use technology to reduce and eliminate this issue.  Students need to understand that technology at school should be used as a tool NOT a toy.  Being good digital citizens when using technology is a topic visited throughout the year.  Though this point is valid it made me think of all the other distractions students found before tech…

Image from https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f6/cf/9b/f6cf9b1f8d5c75ec4c84ad15c92b118e.png

ISSUES WITH MULTITASKING

Now we may not be concentrating completely on a task when we multitask, but being able to navigate between tasks is a skill students will need to be able to do as adults.  In my job as a teacher I am constantly multitasking and I would imagine that many if not most jobs require some level of multitasking.  Students will need to be able to do this at some level.  Also some students find it less distracting listening to music as they can zone out what else is going on in the classroom and are able to get more work done as the music takes away the other distractions and allows them to zone in to their learning.


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PARENT ACCESS TO STUDENTS AND STAFF BECAUSE OF TECH

Sometimes this can be a good thing, but I do see that it can lead to problems when it can become too much and even a distraction itself.  However, I agree with my classmates who said that this is more of a side topic than evidence that tech doesn’t enhance learning.

 

Let’s check out why tech can enhance learning.

IMPROVES ACCESS TO INFO AND RESOURCES/ACCESS ANYTIME & ANYWHERE

Access to information and resources is huge.  The article “6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018” shared by the pro team points out how tech can help with this.  In my school we have enough textbooks of some types, like science, to share 1 textbook among three students, which doesn’t take into account that these textbooks are also shared between classes.  In contrast, all of my students can access this same textbook online and as I am 1:1 all of my students can have their own copy of the textbook.  Also with the online textbook version students can make notes, highlights and images can be enlarged and sometimes videos are linked.  With textbooks going missing and schools having to take the hit to replace them, going to virtual textbooks provides more access and can save money.  I also like to use a lot of other resources as mentor texts, such as picture/nonfiction books.  Using free websites like GetEpic allows students access to a ton of resources (books and videos) about the topic, which are also at a variety of reading levels and many come in audio books versions.  Students also have access to many online research options, so information is readily available at their finger tips.

DIFFERENTIATED POSSIBILITIES/STUDENT CENTERED

This is one of my favourite points that the for tech team presented.  I feel that tech can make a huge difference in students learning by allowing for more differentiation and allowing for a more student centered approach.  Like I mentioned in the previous point, sites like GetEpic provide tons of resources for students to choose from at a variety of levels and resources in ebook, audio, or video form.  Even just using OneNote, which is basically a online notebook, the learning tools options allows for students to have the content read to them and they can dictate and the program will type for them.  This is great for students who struggle with reading and writing.

By using programs like Seesaw students can have choice in how they share their learning, which is empowering for students.  Some students may not feel comfortable writing or typing their answer, but feel confident talking about or drawing their answer so they could choose to create a video or share a drawing and add an audio explanation.

Image from Seesaw Help Centre (https://help.seesaw.me/hc/en-us/articles/115001096743-How-do-students-add-posts-to-Seesaw-)

Technology also allows students more flexibility in their learning.  Students can work ahead or get extra review. They can watch a video explaining the next topic or rewatch a video or a different video to get extra help, such as for math like Khan Academy of Math Antics.  Students can use programs like IXL to work on concepts at lower or higher levels or start the next topic if they are ready to move on.

CONNECTING/COLLABORATING WITH OTHERS

Technology allows students to connect with people outside the classroom.  Classrooms can skype with authors or experts in a variety of fields to learn from.  Students can connect with students outside the classroom to learn from, with and share their learning with.  One of my favourites is the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other classrooms through the Global Read Aloud, which connects classroom all across the world about a novel that everyone is reading.  Classrooms can also connect with families to share their learning such as through using Seesaw.

 

WHAT I BELIEVE NOW…

Although the against tech side made some excellent points I still believe that tech can enhance learning and the post debate vote showed that most of my classmates agreed with that side as well.

What do you think? What points hit home the most for you?

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2 thoughts on “Tech as a Learning Tool

  1. Erin, I just had to comment to thank you for suggesting the Global Read Aloud. I have never heard of it before, but I am always looking for ways to expand my students’ understanding of being global citizens. In my opinion, collaboration is one of the greatest benefits of technology, and like you, I agree that it enhances learning in our classrooms. Thanks for a well-written post!

    Liked by 1 person

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