Tech Isn’t Going to Run Itself… yet – Tech In the Classroom

Before the debate, I already disagreed with the statement, “Technology in the classroom enhances learning.” Does auto-steer and GPS make a better farmer? Does a $500 one-piece hockey stick with a low kick point make a great shooter? Does a top end line up of kitchen appliances and cookware make an unreal chef? And of course, does technology in the classroom enhance learning? While Will and Mike made some good arguments on the “agree” side, the K-Tel style marketing was not enough to have me turn on Janeen and Catrina (or myself).

People in a classroom
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According to Castañeda and Williamson (2021), technology can make learning more engaging and boost student collaboration. Additionally, Ivus, Quan, and Snider (2020) believe that technology can give teachers a more efficient way of teaching and motivate students, while offering more personalized learning experiences. I do appreciate that, despite their pro-edtech stance, they acknowledge that there are challenges in the way, namely costs, broadband access, cultural nuances, educator training, and the need for efficient procurement policies and practices. Hurdles that will continue to play a factor in bridging the digital divide.

edtech might propel more globally diverse voices in setting alternative agendas for educational technology than those that originate in either bureaucratic offices or education technology development studios.”

Castaneda, 2021

Solidifying My Stance

Sometimes, teachers put too much emphasis on teaching students how to use technology, without considering whether it’s a helpful tool for learning. This means that students might be learning how to use an app or tool, but not learning new concepts or skills. Widman, begins his TedTalk with a list of deterrents for technology in the classroom which can take away from learning, but rightfully says that technology is not going anywhere and that is why it is important that digital literacy makes its way into the education experience for students. This point, digital residents in the classrooms of digital visitors (albeit, a decreasing number as time moves forward), really hit home for me. I love when I can learn from students, and it seems to be a more regular occurrence every year!


Lesson in it classroom
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Wexler (2021) writes that technology has yet to prove that it actually boosts learning. Sure, technology can be helpful, but it’s not like waving a magic wand.  What really jumped out at me in this article is the idea that for edtech to actually work, we need to pair it with teaching methods that have been proven to work. Wexler refers to Christodoulou’s focus on knowledge and information on a topic is the important first step, needing to be in place prior to skills being learned. I found this to really connect to my teaching philosophy. This locked me in to the “disagree” side – it is not the technology that enhances learning, rather the teacher who knows how to utilize technology that enhances learning. If students to not have them, they will need to develop adequate skills in using technology in a meaningful way – reliant on the teacher.

Of course equity of access to technology – devices and infrastructure – is an important part of this argument as well. Not every school has one to one devices. Every student does not have their own device that can be used. Internet speed varies in schools. At some point in the spring of 2019, we had a day and a half without power in the school that I taught in. NO INTERNET! It was interesting to see how the students handled the sudden shift in their daily life, and although it was not desirable, it was nice to force me to think on my feet and figure out how to handle class like they would have in the “old” days, when it felt like technology was not relied on nearly as heavily as it is today.

A girl watching movie on computer laptop
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I don’t think that technology in the classroom is always helpful, nor is it as harmful as I may have thought ten years ago. Although it can be a source of distraction, and it can prioritize technology over other important skills, the combination of edtech and a confident, competent educator – technology in addition to good pedagogy – should be the target. Technology needs a teacher who knows how to utilize it in order to enhance learning.

I know that my knowledge and use of technology has increased, as well as my own confidence in using it has dramatically over the last 17 years, and I continue to find areas that I could improve. What about you?

2 thoughts on “Tech Isn’t Going to Run Itself… yet – Tech In the Classroom

  1. Hi Bart,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the first debate. I like your initial sentiment that technology does not inherently enhance someone’s capacity to complete a task. Often, I believe that people rely on technology as a crutch hoping that it will take away the strenuous work. I also agree that it is a form of distraction that detracts from student achievement. While I too have frustrations around technology, it is important to acknowledge that technology isn’t going anywhere and as educators we need to find ways to best channel it for the benefit of students.

  2. Janeen and I were a little nervous going into this debate. We both incorporate technology in our classrooms and of course, we see the benefits of tech on student learning. However, we really did want to focus our debate on the important role teachers play in the learning that takes place in the classroom, with or without tech. Tech is here to stay, so as teachers, we need to figure out the best ways to use it in our classrooms. Furthermore, we need to teach students how to use it responsibly. Thanks for sticking with us Bart.

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