But What if the Power Goes Out?

But What if the Power Goes Out?

Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology. What a controversial statement to pose to a bunch of teachers! This statement became part of a debate assignment in the EC&I 830 Contemporary Issues in EdTech class I am taking currently. When I read the topic initially, I immediately saw terrible dystopian visions of robots at the front of classrooms carrying out instruction because it can easily be done with technology. Meanwhile the students are at their desks, enslaved by tech, needing it to carry out even the simplest tasks because they don’t know how to. I then wondered what if there was no power, or internet, or access to technology?

robots chalk

Alright, I admit, I’m being rather dramatic. Honestly, those visions were quickly replaced with visions of all the ways that I use tech with my middle school students and encourage them to use it to help meet outcomes. Many of my math students over the years have come to grade six without a firm comprehension of basic operations.  I regularly let these students use calculators, or at the very least multiplication charts, so they can still participate in the math concepts we are exploring without getting hung up on their multiplication and division. However, I find that the same students who lack these skills coming into middle years, are also often the ones who struggle with many math concepts, regardless of if they are using technology to help them or not. 

Educational wooden multiplication table

As with any of these debate topics there clearly is no cut and dry answer, or else there would be nothing to debate. While I think that technology certainly has a role to play in providing equity in the classroom, I am not sure that it should replace the learning of basic skills. As with all things in life, there must be balance. I am genuinely in favour of using technology in the classroom because I know that this is where the world is going, and students will need those skills to navigate it. I have also seen first-hand the authentic, fun and exciting, hands on learning students can be a part of using technology. Yet at the end of the day I think we still have a role in teaching students how to use basic skills which become the building blocks of comprehension. It is at this point that we can integrate technology to help them along. Both the agree team and the disagree team made excellent and valid points during the debate, and I thank them for their hard work.

students creating 3d designs

3 thoughts on “But What if the Power Goes Out?

  1. I have seen the same thing in my classroom Jessica. Those students who struggle with the basic math facts are also the ones who seem to struggle with math on a general basis. Maybe those basic math skills provide a foundation for future learning. Understanding basic math concepts and how to apply them early in their education prepares children to excel as they move into higher grades as discussed in this article (https://online.merrimack.edu/math-skills/).

    Also, I had the same kinds of thoughts when this topic came up, except mine had zombies! 🙂

  2. Hello Jessica !!
    Thank you for sharing your great post, I really enjoy reading it. I also believe that there should be a balance in incorporating technology into the classroom but basic skills must come before tech skills. Learning basics is very important in our studies, as technology or internet access is not available in every school or every country. So technology may fail us but if we have mastery of basic skills then access to technology or no technology does not matter…

  3. I too think that balance is key, and so does the curriculum. Basic skills are important, and so is technology. With Regina Public Schools, for example, we have seen firsthand what classrooms would look like if technology didn’t exist. We can still learn, work and be functional when we have basic skills even if technology isn’t working. Great summary!

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