EDTC 400

The Great EDTC Debate Part 1

This week the EDTC 400 class started our debates and discussions about education technology in the classroom and teaching with technology. This was so exciting to listen and be apart of. I cannot wait to be apart of next weeks debating! The topics discussed were as follows:

Topic 1: Technology in the classroom enhanced learning

Topic 2: Schools should stop teaching “google-able” facts

There were so many different points raised throughout the course of both discussions. I wanted to point out a few key thoughts from either side of the discussions that really stuck with me. These points are not necessarily pro or cons, but got me thinking and resonated with me.

Topic 1: The discussion focused a lot on how technology can be a major distraction for students in the classroom. Phone usage, laptop distractions, or even playing with calculators cause major distractions for students during a lesson. Of course this is also a question of how teachers can limit usage at inappropriate times. This is something, as a teacher, that I would have to figure out in the classroom setting. Another point that was brought up was how students with disabilities can use technology to become engaged and included in the classroom. The idea of text to speech, audio books for students learning to read to follow along to or for students learning English. Lastly, we talked about virtual learning like field trips and labs. For smaller schools that do not have as much funding, these can be great options for students to have these experiences without the expensive costs. What is really interesting to me is how closely all of our points were linked to the suggested articles. We did not do readings before coming into the debate, but much of what was discussed was backed up by the suggested articles.

Topic 2: This discussion was very focused on the why verses the how part of learning. A lot of what was discussed came in mathematics. If students know how to use a formula, then great. The problem is they may not be able to apply it to real world problems. If they are able to have a deeper understanding as to why the formula or algorithm works, even if it is the most basic understanding, they will have a greater chance of success when applying it. Pythagorean’s theorem came up many times. Right now many of my classmates and I are taking Math 231, which is geometry proofs. We learned many different ways to prove Pythagoreans theorem. To us this was very different and seemed complicated for a grade 8 or 9 to learn when they are first introduced to it. Then we remembered the box explanation that gives students a much better understanding of why A^2 + B^2 = C^2. Another thought that came up was learning specific dates and history. History is arguable a google-able subject. This is true. You can google the date and move on. Understanding why the event happened takes a little bit more research, discussion, and interpretation. To me, and for the most part, the consensus of the group, it is not that students should necessarily stop teaching google-able facts, but they should maybe stop putting such an emphasis on testing those facts. Instead they can focus on the understanding the student has. This article talks about how we could be scrapping the memorization of the multiplication tables. What I understand from this is that we should not be solely focused on memorizing, but focused on building strategy for understanding and coming with the right answer (as discussed in above during the debate)

It is really hard to pick sides, because there are so many points I agree with on both sides. I don’t want to be a fence sitter, but my thoughts coming out of the debate were mixed. For the first topic, I agree that technology can be an amazing resource in teaching and learning, IF USED APPROPRIATELY. For topic 2, I think teachers should turn their emphasis to ensuring understanding, rather than purely testing on google-able facts. Of course each of these ideas are to a certain extent. I say this because the phrases “to what extent”, and “where do we draw the line” came up quite often. To me this is up to the interpretation of the teacher. I think the google-able facts give context to the course, but we should not necessarily be testing on these facts.

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