Debate #1: Technology Enhances Learning
(Week #3: Post #1)
A Little Background
Before even getting started summarizing the first debate, I have to say that both sides did a great job and what a task it is going first. Even though they went first and had no other group to compare themselves to, or to spark ideas from, I think that they did a really great job and it was no simple task. The first debate topic was: “Technology in the classroom enhances learning.” There were two people on each side of this debate: Megan and Brittney M were for the agree on side, and Nicole and Daryl were for the disagree side.
Prior to hearing anything from either side, I strongly disagree with this statement. Can technology in the classroom enhance learning? For sure. But there are a ton of reasons around my disagreement than you may think. Before getting into it, I want to summarize each side and some of their important points, and then I will explain my point of view towards the end.
Megan and Brittney M used the following articles as well as their own experiences, perspectives and beliefs to guide their creation and delivery of their debate in agreement that technology does in fact enhance learning: Domingo & Garganté (2016), McKnight et al. (2016), Cullen (2022), and Brown’s TED Talk. You can watch their opening debate video here.
Some of the main points that the group addresses are the following:
- Assistive Technologies & Accommodations: there are many different assistive technologies that help accommodate learners and their needs, such as Google Read&Write. Having access to assistive technologies enhances learning for kiddos that have different learning needs and challenges and allows them to actively participate in learning.
- Quick and Formative Feedback: getting quick results are your fingertips to inform your teaching, and student achievement is helpful. When students can complete a quick Google Form or Mentimeter (among many other helpful tools), teachers can easily give students feedback, and get feedback that can guide their teaching, or help students who are struggling or who require more assistance.
- Promotes Collaboration, Cooperation & Communication: with access to the internet, students can easily work together to collaborate and communicate, thus enhancing their cooperative skill sets. Students can access their information at home, and work on group projects whenever and wherever they are, no longer having to chisel out time in busy schedules to make accommodations to get work completed.
- Expands Access to Information: students no longer have to go to the card catalogue in the library to find resources, or to depend on encyclopedia series that are out of date. Students can now access information using the internet and databases that are more current, and has additional perspectives, and can find pretty much anything that they are looking for in a lot less time than ever.
- Teaches Relevant Skill Sets for the Future: technology is a skill of the future, especially in the workforce. By teaching students how to use technology for learning, they can then transfer this learning into their future workforce, with little to no effort.
No Way! Debate
Nicole and Daryl were on the other side of the debate. You can watch their opening debate video here. To guide their debate, they used the following articles: Alhmaid (2019), McCoy (2016),and Mueller & Oppenheimer (2014). Over and above the three articles assigned, they referred to two websites (website #1 and website #2) and a video.
Some of their main arguments were as follows:
- Lacks Real-Life Connections: making connections online are superficial, and does not take into consideration land or self connections, as well as it lacks authentic experiences with real people. This contributes to a lack of acquired social norms through face-to-face interactions and hinders social interactions.
- Constant Monitoring is Necessary: even with policies in place, teachers and caregivers are spending far too much time monitoring students online, thus taking away from teaching and learning. Not only are teachers having to police technology use more, but they are also having to deal with more rule enforcement and monitoring, as well as consequences from improper use of technologies.
- Lack of User Motivation & Dedication: without motivation or dedication, students and spending far less time learning and more time scrolling on social media and aimlessly scrolling. Focus is a major factor in learning and student engagement. On the flip side, there is a lack of equitable access as well as teacher training and knowledge. Therefore, bigger divides are becoming more and more evident, especially with pandemic teaching.
- Contributes to Mental Health Issues: online interactions are virtual, shallow, and artificial. This negatively impacts confidence and mental health. Kiddos are focusing far too much time on comparing themselves to others, and not enough time on developing themselves and their own interests and strengths.
- No Evidence of Substantial Influence of Academic Achievement and Graduation Rates: Although there was not a ton of available information on this topic (oddly enough as it is something that you would think would be more researched), the group argued that there were no substantial gains in graduation rates and achievement.
A Few Thoughts & Interpretations
I have to admit that the wording of this prompt made it super tricky for me to budge on my stance, regardless of what each side of the debate was fighting for. In my personal opinion, I believe that technology CAN enhance learning (the keyword being… CAN). If used properly and implemented with solid pedagogy at the forefront of it all, technology can in fact enhance learning provided that it is with a balanced approach. If teachers are using technology for the sake of saying that they are using technology, or are trying a million things under the sun and switching daily for something newer that they want to try out without good pedagogy in mind, then we are failing at enhancing student learning. Also, if teachers are not well trained, confident, or do not have the knowledge base of working the available technologies, then in fact it is not enhancing student learning.
In my own experience, I definitely think that technology has made teaching easier, from photocopying and printing to using the projector and all the way to teaching kiddos how to properly research information, stay safe online, and word processing (among many other things as well). I think that that agree side could have touched more on the idea of good pedagogy and balance as a strong argument for the enhancement of learning, but I also think that the disagree side could have done a better job discussing the online safety implications, as well as really drove home the great technological divides that are present in today’s world (both from a Saskatchewan and Canadian point of view, as well as from a more global perspective).
Over and above all of the arguments that were heard, as well as my own thoughts and opinions, I really was interested in learning more about the idea that technology has not lessened any real gaps in achievement and graduation rates, and that has rattled my brain a bit. In today’s day and age with all of the advancements, you would think that this would be working. Or if it is working, why isn’t it being studied?
What About You?
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts from the debate the other night. If you have a minute or two, I would love some feedback, whether that’s a simple like, answering one (or more if you’d like) of the guiding prompts below, or leaving your own comment. It’s always nice to hear what other people have to say, and gives me more to reflect upon.
- Did you change your mind from what you originally thought before the debate?
- What was a point in the debate that stuck out to you the most?
- What was something that you just couldn’t look past no matter how hard you tried?
- What was something that either group did really well that made you reconsider how you plan to debate your own topic?
- If you could have changed one thing about the debate, what would it be and why?