Being only two weeks into EC&I 833, I have come to the realization that any definition I attempt to give to the term educational technology will be ever-changing as this course progresses through the semester. However, in the initial stages of this class, I would propose educational technology to be the learning, adaptations and assessment that occur when using technologies such as the internet, iPhones, online learning communities, apps, SMART boards, just to name a few.
As I reflect on my own learning through public education and university, I recognize the role that the internet played in shaping my understanding of educational technology. The use of the internet provided means to research topics, support ideas and learn new information. It was not until I was in the work force that I gained experience with things like SMART boards, iPads and apps. The use of iPads allowed me to understand how technology could assist students who had learning challenges. Apps like Dragon Dictation proved to show how students who struggled with writing could create a written document through spoken word. In addition to using these types of apps, one example of using technology as an assistive means was with a young student who was diagnosed with selective mutism. A basic Flip Video Camera was used by the young child’s parents to show what letter sounds and sight words that the child knew. This assessment was performed at home, where the child spoke and communicated to her parents. I will never forget watching the child speak on camera after months and months of communicating with her, nonverbally. Based on my experiences as a learning resource teacher, I recognize that most of my understanding of educational technology can be directly related to assistive technology.
Moving forward as a professional learner in EC&I 833, it is incredible to learn just how far educational technologies have taken us. As Tony Bates explains, “The first fully online courses (for credit) started to appear in 1995, some using Learning Management Systems, others just loading text as PDFs or slides. The materials were mainly text and graphics.” 23 years later, here we are creating online learning communities through blogs and Twitter. We are using tools like Zoom to facilitate teaching and class discussions. Although only two weeks into this course, I have formed connections with classmates (through the use of iPhone texting, Facebook, and Twitter) and it’s amazing to learn, first hand, how effective educational technologies can be.
In closing, Neil Postman highlights an important point to consider about technology. Postman (1998) states, “Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage. The disadvantage may exceed in importance the advantage, or the advantage may well be worth the cost” (p. 1). Although the educational benefits of technology are limitless, I think it is important to be mindful of the responsibilities that come with it’s power. Postman’s statement reminds me of the opinions made in Channing’s blog “Educational Technologies: My Views.” Channing explained that “With technology, students generally have access to a wealth of knowledge at any time. We need to be teaching them the skills that they will require to access and critique this information that is so readily available to them.” I strongly agree with this idea. Although we must encourage learners to access and use technology, we must be teaching them how to critically think and use technology in responsible ways.
Until next time,