Before I dive into this topic too far, I have a disclosure to make….
I, Jen Resch, am a Connected Educator. What this means is that my students have full-technology integration. We function with one-to-one laptops and therefore my opinion regarding this debate topic may be a little biased. I will do my best to consider both sides of the argument, however I have experienced first-hand what technology in the classroom can do.
I will be the first to admit that technology in the classroom is not easy. Technology bring all kinds of new challenges and possible issues. For example, technology is not always reliable. There have been many times when my students’ laptops have decided to complete an update, which takes an hour and a half! This obviously causes a disruption into my plans and both teacher and student need to learn and practice the hardest learned skill – PATIENCE!GIF Source
There are also times where everything is going your way: laptops are charged, WIFI is working, links are all active. However, when walking around checking student progress you notice students on youtube, or playing Slitherin, instead of following the directions laid out for them. So, therefore, classroom management with technology brings about a whole swarm of new challenges and things to consider. A teacher cannot simply assign a project then sit back and watch her students work away! Students are tricky and they are really good at looking like they are on task, engrossed in their assignment; when actually, they are off in another world! There are times technology can make things easier, and there are times when technology just makes things more difficult! Students need to be made aware of the school and classroom use policy before technology is introduced to reduce the amount of problems later on. I have links some suggestions for management strategies above.
Last week our EC&I 830 class conducted a debate regarding this very topic. I was shocked to hear that some educators are so opposed to integrating technology and would rather see less technology in the classroom. One reason for their distaste for technology stems on the belief that with technology comes further occurrences of student distraction, whether it be through the opportunities devices offer, or the emphasis on the product, rather than the process. I am not going to lie, technology does mean that students have more access and those distractions are more available; however, the teacher needs to build and scaffold a structure and outline clear expectations to combat these issues. A teacher cannot dive into technology integration head-on. Even the most technologically advanced teacher needs to slowly wade into integration to ensure students are being scaffolded and trained to follow certain expectations.
I do not consider myself a ‘seasoned’ teacher; however, I have been around long enough to have experience in a pre-technology classroom, and currently I am in the midst of teaching in a full-technology classroom. Upon doing my own research, I came across several articles outlining the number one challenge with technological integration into the classroom being professional development. A teacher can be given devices and opportunity, however if a teacher is not given training and support, then the devices are useless. I am fortunate to have a tech coach at my disposal and many other professionals who are there to support and guide me, should I need assistance. I believe when it comes to technology, the teacher sometimes needs to take a step back and allow the students to recommend or teach the teacher. There have been many times where I have been learning a new technology with my students. I know we are all teachers and we should know everything, however when it comes to technology, we need to be resigned to the fact that some of our students may be more advanced than the rest of us. That does not mean we should shy away and not attempt to learn or integrated these great tools. We need to put our egos aside and learn along-side our students.
I believe the secret to technology in the classroom all lies in one’s pedagogical thinking and really understanding why one is using the technology in the first place. I used to think I wanted one-to-one devices because I wanted to be “paper-less”. I soon learned that is not the point of technology. There is a time and place for “unplugged” activities to allow students to still experience different learning opportunities, but the outcomes and advancements I have experienced by having students plug-in, connect, and explore using technology far outweighs any kind of argument presented against integrating technology into the classroom. It all comes down to the task the teacher is wanting to use and if technology adds to it in a meaningful way. I remember being introduced to the SAMR Model of Technological Integration, however it was not until I viewed the following video that I really understood what it meant.
As you can see, SAMR is not about staying in the deep-end or redefinition stage, but rather using technology in a meaningful manner and “swimming laps”.
Another useful assessment tool for integration of technology is the ISTE Standard for Educators. This is a tool for teachers to use to help improve a teacher’s practice and empower their learners through the use of technology. This was introduced to me this year and I feel it helps teachers to not only integrate technology in a meaningful manner, but also create a team of collaborators who challenge the way they view education in the classroom. I believe these two tools can help to guide a teacher toward meaningful integration of technology that far outweighs any negative challenge thrown their way.
My final point to justify why technology belongs in the classroom is that technology opens the doors to classrooms that were otherwise closed or miles away. Technology has allowed my students to connect with other classrooms, professionals, and has given them the opportunity to take part in initiatives otherwise unimaginable. I have seen students flourish and become excited to explore and deepen their understanding far beyond my initial expectations. They have pushed the boundaries of education to create projects where they are not only researching, but creating using their critical thinking skills to problem solve, collaborate, and develop new ideas. I know it is a cliche’ but my students actually have the world at their fingertips!
Many people have presented many arguments against technology in the classroom, but unfortunately my first hand experience has out-weighed all of their excuses. If my job is to prepare students to be successful in the future, I believe eliminating technology from the equation would be a disservice to them and their future. Yes, it might be more work to integrate, monitor, and manage the technology, but the student outcomes and experiences are definitely worth it!