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?
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.
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.