Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?

As I reflect on my journey from student to educator, I can think of many times that technology has both positively and negatively affected the learning experience. Throughout my own education, personal technology has played a distracting role, mostly due to social media and messaging between friends.Facebook

Even before smartphones, I remember downloading the SelfControl app on my computer so that I could block Facebook for a set amount of time and force myself to stay on task.  I also used the app during class time so I would use my computer strictly to take notes.  While I do not think that social media had a negative effect on my grades, I did have to make a conscious effort to use technology appropriately.

But if I reflect on my experience using technology as tool in my own learning and now as an educator, I believe the access to information, collaboration with peers and ease of completing course work has been invaluable. Therefore:

I completely agree with the statement, “technology in the classroom enhances learning”.

Team Disagree had a compelling argument, especially with the idea that Silicon Valley giants send their children to schools with a technology free environment.

no tech

As Beverly Amico explained in this suggested article, “teachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing, rather than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet”. While I believe these artistic activities are extremely important in early years learning, I do think it is possible to incorporate technology as a tool to complement rather than replace these learning experiences.  The Waldorf ideal stressed in the article focuses on the idea to “remove the distraction of electronic media and encourage stronger engagement between teach and pupil during lesson”, but I think that it is possible to use technology in a way that increases student engagement.

As suggested by Team Agree, teachers play the most important role by “organizing the learning environment to provide students with active, hands-on learning and authentic tasks and audience for their work”.

The student should be the main focus in planning for learning, and to use technology effectively, educators need to find a way to use it to enhance the learning process.  I found this image in the suggested article to very clearly express the benefits of using technology in the classroom:

tech enhances learning

Very simply stated in the article to solidify the agree side:

“technology provides greater depth and richness not otherwise available”.

Flipping back to Team Disagree, there is the argument that technology leads to:

  1. Limited learning
  2. Diversion of resources
  3. Student distraction
  4. High cost to implement.

Although I do agree that the cost of technology can sometimes limit accessibility, the first three points are weak statements in my opinion. If technology is simply used as a substitution or replacement, there can be an element of student distraction that leads to limited learning. But if technology is implemented with the guidance of the SAMR or TPACK models, negative effects can be avoided.samr vs tpack infographic

This brings me to my final point to side with Team Agree in the argument that technology in the classroom enhances learning.

“Students are digital natives. They’ve grown up with technology; it’s woven into their lives”

The suggested article explains that although technology could be a negative aspect in the classroom, teachers have the ability to use it to improve engagement. For example, teachers could see a different kind of class participation. Perhaps quieter students will feel more empowered to participate in class discussions. This can be related to our own EC&I 830 Zoom sessions – some students thrive on verbally speaking in class discussions and other students (like myself) feel more comfortable contributing via the chat.

quiet people

As a small aside, I remember stressing and worrying about classes that required and depended on vocal participation in whole group discussions. My introvert-self preferred and felt more comfortable with small group discussions and written reflections. Now in my own teaching, I can reach different student learners through various teaching strategies, including technology (like Flipgrid, Google Suite, Twitter, Kahoot, and more).

To effectively integrate technology in the classroom, it is important to teach digital citizenship before introducing the tools, and returning to these teachings throughout the year. Furthermore, if we think of

technology as the partner

we are able to find and integrate the “sweet spot” as noted in the TPACK model, when all three knowledge areas work together.

tpack model sweet spot

Using the guidelines outlined in both the TPACK and SAMR models allows educators to find the best way to make content more accessible to students using the best pedagogical strategies. The main goal – find a way to meet student needs in the most engaging way that will lead to increased motivation.

In closing, educational technology is here to stay and will continue to evolve and rapidly change as it already has in our careers as learners and educators. Both before and after the debate, I agreed with the statement that, “technology in the classroom enhances learning”. After the arguments presented by both sides, through suggested readings and my own research, I believe that technology has the ability to transform student learning when implemented as a tool and partner. As we continue to find ways to redefine student learning, we can use technology to enhance and complement the classroom experience.

ed tech wordle

 

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

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10 thoughts on “Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?

  1. thehackelhub says:

    Hi Catherine! Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I have to agree with you on the having serious self control issues during my first couple degrees….I would have Facebook open, a thousand online shopping sites and pretty much anything else that I could find that wasn’t related to what I was supposed to be doing. All of that being said, that was not a problem with the technology, it was absolutely a problem with me. haha. I could have been using the technology to enhance and deepen my learning experience rather than as a distraction. That’s where I thought both teams made great points regarding the involvement of the teacher and the quality of activities we provide in our classrooms. We can’t just use technology for technology sake, we need to make sure that it is used with purpose. We also need to put in the back work on ensuring kids have the skills to ignore the distractions and use technology properly and safely. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. catherineready says:

      Thanks for your thoughts! I really like your point that we need to use technology with a purpose and help give students the skills to ignore distractions. It’s a good reminder about the importance of teaching digital citizenship so we can get beyond the “substitution” level of technology integration and increase student engagement!

      Like

  2. kristensblog848551743 says:

    First off, I am totally jealous of your amazing blog. I am very incompetent with all of this and your blog did a great job of hitting all sides of the argument in a meaningful but visually appealing way. I have been there with limiting our own use of social media, especially when trying to work on our own homework or prepping/marking. That statement alone shows that we need to be teaching our students how to manage technology responsibly, as they are in fact the first generation to grow up essentially surrounded by tech. Use the technology to enhance the learning not just always as a substitution. This article gave some more great examples of how to apply the SAMR model: https://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/04/examples-of-transforming-lessons-through-samr/

    Thank you again for the great post, I look forward to your future posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. catherineready says:

      Thanks for recommending the article! It’s interesting because in some ways I have been applying the SAMR model to my teaching, but didn’t even realize this model existed! Also, thanks for the comment about the way the blog looks. My best advice is to play around with the features using trial and error – it’s how I learned 🙂

      Like

  3. kariik8 says:

    Wow! Catherine I am overwhelmingly impressed by your blog, and I want to thank you for some very thought-provoking arguments that you brought forward. I appreciated your point about introverted students and how teachers have the ability to use technology to improve engagement. Similarly to yourself, I am a bit more comfortable via the chat rather than speaking up verbally on Zoom. It is always humbling to put ourselves in our students’ shoes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. catherineready says:

      Thanks for your comment! I love how technology is changing the way we engage with our students. Makes you think about all the different types of learners!

      Like

  4. Brooke says:

    Hi Catherine, I enjoyed reading your blog this week. Totally agree – we all talk about distraction as a student problem but teachers/parents are totally guilty as well! There will always be distractions and young people (and adults) must learn to manage those distractions by learning responsible technology use. Additionally, I think your comment “although technology could be a negative aspect in the classroom, teachers have the ability to use it to improve engagement” hits the nail right on the head. Our debate topic this week, although we were asked to choose sides, isn’t an either/or kind of debate. Are there negatives to technology in education? Yes. But we also have a choice to use technology in all its amazing power as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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