While there are valid arguments and counterarguments for technology in the classroom, it’s the teacher, not the technology, that makes the difference. If teachers aren’t given the chance to implement it properly or if the students aren’t using it effectively, then the impact of that technology won’t be felt. Supplying an entire classroom with tablets when the teacher does not embrace it, nor sees the possibilities, would be like getting your dog a Tempurpedic, sleep number bed.
A story called No Child Left Untableted by Carlo Rotella, in The New York Times on Sept. 12, is worth a look for anyone interested in technology’s role in the classrooms today. In essence, we’re talking about technology being a cure vs technology as a tool. The idea that you can download an app to get students to make a connection vs a machine that helps you evaluate the academic, social, and emotional growth of twenty students over the course of a year.
One thing that hooked me when joining the Gradeable team was their view of crunching all the numbers for more effective teaching. These days, Starbucks has more data about me than schools do on their students. Think about the power of that technology turned into the classroom. Just like Starbucks has data on what time of day people are buying Pumpkin Spice Lattes, teachers will be able to see right away how well the class is understanding fractions based on answers to question 3 on the quiz. Digested thoughtfully, technology offers a big helping hand on where to focus your attention.
Of course, these new tools will not work for the teacher who sticks his student in front of a computer screen for six hours and hope for the best. Similar to how throwing on a movie and turning the lights out means nap time for most kids. The success of these tools depends on how the teacher takes advantage of them.
The key to incorporating yet another device into our lives and classrooms is to keep an open mind and to find a balance. Don’t lose sight of a piece of technology as a tool. In the article, one teacher was told that she could use proximity to keep the class focused. Proximity isn’t an app on your tablet, she was reminded. It’s simply standing closer to the kids so they know you know what they’re doing. Remember, technology isn’t the solution to everything.
The 7-page article discussed three big counter-arguments for technology, a discussion for another post, and they are as follows:
- Educational technology opens new avenues for marketers to reach students in a school setting
- Links between screen time and childhood obesity raise public health concerns
- It can be easier to find money for cool new gadgets than for teachers (See LA school systems)
- Privacy issues can arise because school systems lack the experience to negotiate data agreements that anticipate all the ways technology companies could put student information to use
How do you feel about technology in the classroom? What ways are you using it in your classroom? What are your gripes? Comments, reaction to the article?