The first week debate was truly a battle.  I’ll be the first to say I was in favour of the debate topic- Technology in the classroom enhances learning.  How far our classrooms have come, and how quickly we can access and share information, truly has revolutionized our way of teaching.

Out of the gate, Will and Mike were able to bring some strong arguments for the enhancements technology brings to the classroom.  The copious amount of tech tools they shared in their opening statement video barely scratches the surface on what is out there and the benefits they have for students.  As Ed Tech further advances into everyday classroom practice and programs continue to evolve, the benefits that they give teachers is incredible.  Instant feedback on tests, less papers to be spilt on, the engagement fun factor can’t be duplicated.  Class, Take Out Your Tablets: The Impact of Technology on Learning and Teaching in Canada was a insightful read.  It reminds us that we are building 21st century learners in our classrooms and that the skills they learn now with tech, may only be stepping stones into their future occupations.

Pg. 7 Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) article

I find this question very hard to argue with.  The fact is our students will be working in jobs and using tech that may not even be invented yet or as the article states, ” Most educators believed that technology would continue to grow in importance for different careers, including ones that have not traditionally required it” (Pg. 8).

On the other hand, Catrina and Janeen made strong counterpoints 1 Billion Dollars Dr Evil GIFs | Tenoragainst the argument.  In the below video, Mary  Jo Madda presents an all to common story in education, jumping on trends that have big financial implications.  In this case, the Los Angeles Unified School District spent $1 Billion Dollars on an initiative to put an iPad in the hands of every student.  What did they find?  Well, first of all they didn’t consult the people who would be leading this initiative (the teachers), which with any large financial expenditures surely you would think you’d lay a little more groundwork with some feedback.  Let’s say that’s strike 1.  The 2nd strike, not providing those very same teachers with the professional development and training on how to use this new technology.  We’ve all been there, here’s a new idea, app, device (think smartboards back in the day) and try to figure out how to teach with it properly or is it just used a novelty item to throw bean bags at with math games.  The 3rd strike then was the end result, students not learning to their full potential.

The heart of the issue with incorporating too much tech, is the loss of the role of the teacher.  Teachers play a far bigger role than showing cool apps or providing a multitude of toolsets for their classrooms.  Technology DOES enhance learning in the classroom, the big issue is how is enhancing that learning.  With all of the new websites, and innovations happening with AI, technology isn’t going anywhere and I don’t think you would find anyone who would argue that.  It does however need to be carefully examined how it is being used as a tool in the classroom, because it will never be able to replace the interactions students have with one another, or relationships formed between classmates and educational staff.

Now I can honestly say, my vote did move more to the middle ground of the debate.  Do I see some flaws with using technology in the classroom, of course.  The distractions, hours spent learning new media or programs, only to find out they don’t serve any benefit to my students.  Is there a lot of good?  Of course!  New found ways to assess students through Mentimeters, Kahoots, or Flip responses, have allowed my students some real lightbulb moments where traditional pen and paper have only left frustration.  Teaching drafting and designing through CAD software was game changing.  Having students be able to visit virtual art galleries around the world, have inspiration at the click of a few buttons provided ample inspiration for many visual art assignments.  The Google suite software has streamlined most of my classes, even PE!  Would I go back to 14 years ago and barely any tech in my classroom, no way.  Is it a struggle to find the perfect balance of tech in the classroom, I would say that’s probably more the issue.  What tech or programs were you ever tossed your way only to find out they were never going to work in your class?

Check in next week where we will be discussing if Social Media Is Ruining Childhood.