How does technology enhance learning?

Emoji thoughtful emoticon hmmm PNG transparent backgroundThis question will be the focus of my post. The statement “Technology in the classroom enhances learning” was appropriate for the debate, and both sides argued their points extremely well. I choose “disagree” in the pre-vote, and “agree’ in the post-vote and have to lean towards the “disagree” side in this post. I appreciated how both sides discussed pedagogy as an important consideration that must be included in the discussion. I remember a speaker I once heard at a Primary Teachers’ Conference. She was an experienced teacher and was speaking of pedagogy. She told a story of “busy work,” In the world of primary teachers, that means things like worksheets and coloring activities. She said that sometimes there is a time and place for busy work; the teacher may need to work one-on-one with an individual student or with a small group of students, and the rest of the class needs to be kept busy. She said that doing this, is not the issue. The real issue is thinking busywork is educationally relevant when it is clearly not. In other words, know why you ask the students to complete activities and ensure they enhance learning. The same can be said for technology; make sure that learning is the end game with whatever techie activity you ask of the students.

I appreciated the depth and breadth of the article “Class, Take Out Your Tablets: The Impact of Technology on Learning and Teaching in Canada”. Thank you for giving us a Canadian-based article! I could relate to the section on broadband connectivity.

“ Many educators noted that smaller or more isolated communities often suffer from limited bandwidth, slow satellite internet technologies, or intermittent service. While it is well-known that there are significant connectivity challenges in northern Canada, several interviewees expressly stated that poor connectivity was a prominent issue on Indigenous reserves and in rural regions, which impacted both students and educators, alike.” (Ivus, M., Quan, T., Snider, N., 2020, p. 24).

Welcome to my life, the times I could not teach because of connectivity issues. This is a real issue in the North and speaks to the fact that access to technology is not equal or equitable. The article should have discussed the reasons why connectivity issues exist in the North, the main one being a lack of competition between companies. Northwestel is the only Internet provider for the North (Okay, there is Elon’s Starlink, but that is a blog post for another day)

I also could relate to the video: Why Technology can’t fix education. I completely agree that technology can not replace the teacher. We are social beings, and we need each other. Our brains are hard-wired to learn from a human face. Take a look at this TedTalk.

Research was completed to understand how babies learn a language, no babies were harmed!  There are around 6000-7000 languages currently spoken on the planet, and babies are born with the ability to speak any of the languages. The research discussed in the Tedtalk shows that babies “take statistics” when they listen to people speak and use the statistics to help them recognize and speak a language. As part of the research babies born to English speakers listened to a person speak Mandarin for 12 sessions, and the babies demonstrated that they learned Mandarin. Another group of babies listened to someone speak Mandarin on a TV, and the third group of babies were exposed to audio only. No learning happened for the babies in the 2nd and 3rd groups. The research found that it takes a human being for babies to take their statistics. This does not change once kids enter school, they continue to learn best from a human being.

My final point also relates to how our young learners learn best. There is an early learning teaching philosophy called “Reggio Emilia. There is too much to say about Reggio in this blog post but central to the philosophy is that the teaching environment is the 3rd teacher (the other 2 teachers are the child and the educator). If one believes this to be true, then what educators DO in the classroom matters. Our teaching methods (pedagogy), the curriculum, the learning materials, and the technology used in classrooms matter. Teaching is the art and science of creating relationships. Technology can assist in this but can not replace the human connection that is at the heart of teaching. Will and Mike shared a great metaphor in their opening statement when they compared technology to a carpenter’s tool belt. Technology is one tool that teachers have, and it is important that it is used correctly.

Close-up woman construction worker wearing tool belt showing thumbs up on white



And another thing…. ChatGPT

It seems that the conversation around ChatGPT is everywhere. I posted on Ummey’s blog (or at least I thought I did, I can’t see my post) this CBC news article about how ChatGPT may change the world of work. I also shared this youtube video that outlines how you can use ChatGPT to help you sell stuff on-line.

Now there is this news article writing a cautionary tale about romance scams. Is nothing sacred? ChapGPT seems to be everywhere…..


Digital Citizenship: A cautionary tale

First thing, please ignore the blog post from earlier today. I was practicing and that post was not supposed to be sent. This is what I was trying to say…..

This news story came to my mind during the discussion in the last class. Digital etiquette, digital law, and digital rights and responsibilities are components of digital literacy. The referenced news article highlights what can happen when the components are not followed. The defendant said it wasn’t her intention to cause harm (I think is a weak defense). Nonetheless, she did cause much harm to the victim and herself. I only had to google her name to get the news story, as will anyone else who ever thinks about hiring her for a job. The male student in question had to leave the Yukon because of her Facebook post. She should have known better.


Speaking of knowing better, my husband and I gave our almost 13-year-old daughter her first Iphone last week. She had her sign a contract; thank you for the idea Alec! We made one similar to Greg’s mom. Our daughter willingly, almost happily, signed the contract, in which it was clearly stated, “If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.” Not 48 hours later, this clause was broken. Luckily for her, her phone was not damaged and no repairs were needed.


This brings me to my final point, that students need to be explicitly taught, re-taught and supported to learn about digital citizenship. We can not assume that they will know what to do. Students have to be taught how to read, how to write a logical sentence, and how to complete a math problem. There seems to be a disconnect sometimes that they also need to be taught how to be a responsible person. It does not “just” happen. In addition, the BC curriculum is used in the Yukon. I have a included a couple of screenshots below of some learning objectives from the curriculum. Yukon teachers HAVE to teach digital citizenship; it is in the Applied Design, Skills and Technologies curriculum and in the Physical and Health curriculum. This is not a “one and done” activity either, it is going to take some time. As it also stated in my daughter’s cell phone contract, “You will mess up. We will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. We are always learning and we are on your team. We are in this together.” (thanks to Greg’s mom for sharing).