My personal understanding of educational technology

At the start of my 5th class with Dr. Alec Couros, I feel that my personal understanding of educational technology has been shaped enormously. Those people who took classes with me previously, are aware of my very different background. I grew up in Romania as part of a Hungarian minority group. Even though Communism ended in 1989 (I was in 5th grade), it took quite a long time to catch up to the rest of the world. So, I have seen and even been to a computer lab in high school where I was taught programming (still don’t have a clue what it is) and we went to Internet Cafes to check our emails and do a bit of reading. You’d think twice how long you’d browse there since it was not cheap.

Looking back at my childhood and my students’ struggles they had to face in March of 2020, make me think of a serious issue discussed by Neil Postman. “Who specifically benefits from the development of a new technology? Which groups, what type of person, what kind of industry will be favoured? And, of course, which group of people will thereby be harmed?” One of my biggest concerns when thinking of educational technology is the digital divide. Working in a community school, many of our families cannot afford having devices. When switching to online teaching, it took a month for our families to receive one device per household. Then they had to figure out how technology works. Having the laptop up and running was not the end of the struggle though. The next problem was which child would have a turn on the computer?

Another concern is how technology is being used in the classroom, when all the obstacles of booking the devices and having them up and running are overcome? I am thankful for the many opportunities my school division offered to learn more and immerse myself in the world of educational technology. I had the opportunity to learn more about TEAMS, Seesaw, Razkids, Flocabulary, Vocabulary etc. English learning programs. The classes that I have been taking as part of my Masters Certificate Program in Educational Technology and the additional learning opportunities created by my school division create a nice blend in order to help me move towards a balanced personal TPACK model.

During our group discussion in class, Dean shared a very interesting thought “tech should be invisible”. Dean described technology as a tool that becomes part of the learning process giving more opportunities for students to learn. He also mentioned the SAMR model based on using technology with a purposeful way in order to enhance learning. Since teachers are at different levels in the area of Technological Knowledge as well as comfort level, I think there is a lot more work to be done in order to reach to the point where technology is not only used as a time filler.

The SAMR model leads me to Kozma’s (1994) argument “If we move from “Do media influence learning?” to “In what ways can we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, task, and situations?” we will both advance the development of our field and contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning.”

But is it only media that can help us master Dale’s Cone of Experience? Not necessarily, but I believe that educational technology can serve as an irreplaceable tool if used properly. Educators need to watch out for the trap of practicing pure “consumerism” and focus on learning and guiding students towards “creating”. And with creating comes sharing where we cannot forget about taking the time to teach our students how to navigate the world of technology safely by raising responsible digital citizens.

Thank you for stopping by!

9 thoughts on “My personal understanding of educational technology

  1. Such great points Melinda! I loved Dean’s comment as well about how technology should be invisible… it should flow within our daily lives in the classroom. I feel if it did, students would have a much better grasp about digital citizenship. That too, would be more fluid. You had some great visuals! The Digital Divide, now more than ever, has come to the fore front in education so hopefully there will be some gains to make things more equitable for all! Thanks for sharing! Great thoughts!

  2. Wow Melinda. To share a little of my lack of knowledge I am simply amazed by your use of images and how they are formatted around the text. I have yet to learn how to do that! Ha Newbie to word press.

    I often think of the digital divide as well. The inequality was so apparent during the pandemic. Some families at our school, with multiple children, shared their parents’ cell phone to try to access lessons. Clearly, these students did not have the same level of engagement.

    I appreciated the reference that teachers should focus on using technology as a medium for students to actively create rather than passively consume. I also love the digital citizenship image. Perhaps I will focus some specific lessons on those. Again, first time seeing those so nicely laid out.

  3. Great post Melinda! I also find myself thinking often of the ‘digital divide’. I teach in a school where most students have no computer/tablet at home. They access the internet through their parents’ phone. I agree with Dean that technology should be invisible-it goes back to purposeful use. Many teachers in my school use Chromebooks only for spare time or for when you are finished your work. Part of this problem going back to training for teachers…

  4. Melinda,

    Great post! Teaching kids to create rather than passively consume is so important. I appreciate that you note how digital citizenship comes into play with content creation. Prior to schools shutting down in March, we were right in the middle of our digital citizenship unit that I was trialing as part of my major project for Alec’s class. We discussed what appropriate comments and content should look like and the impact of a digital footprint. A framework I found helpful to use during these conversations was THINK: Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. I found it surprisingly that most of my students struggled with the “necessary” piece… Which I thought would be the easiest! That just goes to show you the value of teaching digital citizenship.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Great Post Melinda! I can relate well to the digital divide that you spoke of. Coming from a community school background, it was all to often that I heard from the students that they had no technology at home and even more from the frustrated teachers who had inadequate tech to use in the classroom, but also the struggles that they had with the lack of experience that the students had and therefore, how they had to take a step backwards to just focus on the basics. Without the proper supports and resources, I can understand how it would be all to easy to just give in and succumb to the free time frenzy. I sure hope that after reflecting upon the tech issues uncovered during the pandemic, we can begin to lessen the great divide. The divide in accessibility as well as in learning opportunity amongst our colleagues. I was personally excited to see all of the fantastic ideas that were posted on Alec’s tweet regarding instructional methods, assessment techniques and tools that were adopted during the pandemic. It has brought about many great conversations with my staff. I can’t wait to share the visuals in your post as I feel they would be great assets to our planning in the classroom. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great post. Honoured my comment struck a chord with you and that good teaching / a good lesson is just that with or with out tech. I appreciate your journey (hits close to home with the story of my own parents). Your ed tech journey is equally impressive as you have done some amazing work in these classes and I have learned a lot from you especially from an EAL teacher perspective. Thanks

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  9. Thank you for a great read! I agree that it is important for teachers to avoid getting trapped in the consumerism of education and focus on students creating instead. There are so many educational apps and platforms out there to use nowadays, I find it overwhelming sometimes. I am definitely finding that I need to do extra research before setting my students up on a new app or platform.

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