Does Technology Enhance or Hinder Learning?

teens smiling at the computer Photo Credit: chandlerle025 via Compfight cc

Tuesday was a very exciting class as we had our very first debate and the topic was:  Technology in the classroom enhances learning.  Congratulations to Jeremy, Erin, Kyle, Kayla, Chalyn, and Steve for leading an excellent first debate.  Before the two teams (agree and disagree) presented their side of the debate I already had my own opinion based on my experiences of being a student and a teacher as well as the knowledge I have gained through previous classes and readings that I have been exposed to.  Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?  I believe that technology does enhance learning for students in the classroom, but there are certain aspects of technology that does need to be considered.

Benefits of Technology and How It Enhances Learning:

1.  Technology allows for differentiation.

Students can use assistive technology to help them reach their personal goals in the classroom, especially the students who are struggling or may have a learning disability.  Students can use the different tools to help them communicate with fellow peers in the classroom or display their learning to others.  For example, in my classroom I have some students who struggle with writing and with the use of talk to text apps and devices they are able to independently complete assignments instead of having to rely on myself or another adult to scribe for them.  I have also had students use iPads and other forms of technology in my classroom to help with verbal  communication.  In an article that the agree side shared with our class it explores differentiation and it lists the variety of types of assisted technology that can be used to help children learn in the classroom: written language assistive technology, reading assistive technology, mathematics assistive technology, listening assistive technology, and memory/organization assistive technology.  I have seen technology open the doors for so many students and can provide them with opportunities to be successful in the classroom.   All of the different technology can lead to equity for students in the classroom.  I agreed with the article that “the choice of the appropriate use of AT [assistive technology], whether available or improvised, the right selection depends on the individual child, the skills problems, the setting and the particular tasks the child wants to achieve” (p. 18).   “This implies that one tool used for a child may not be useful for another child in different setting” (p. 18).  Every child is unique and has different learning needs to compared to other children in the classroom and when planning to use the different types of technology it is important to keep that in mind.

equity-vs-equality

Photo Credit: Source

2. Technology allows for new learning opportunities to occur in the classroom.

When teachers use technology in the classroom students are able to learn valuable digital skills and digital tools are helping transform education.  Now students are living in a digital world and I believe it is critical to provide them with learning opportunities to learn new digital skills and improve their skills that they already know .  Those skills that they can learn are “essential for work and life in a 21st century global society” (p. 6).  I was reading through a report that focused on integrating technology with student-centered learning.  In the report I thought  Babette Moeller and Tim Reitzes  brought up some valid points:

  • “Technology can equip students to independently organize their learning process” and this leads students who use technology to “become active users” (p. 6).
  • Technology provides students to opportunity to take some responsibility for their learning (p. 6).
  • Technology can lead teachers “to deliver more personalized learning” (p. 7).
  • Technology can help provide feedback that can “guide the learning process” (p. 7).

During the debate Andrew introduced to us a website that he uses in his classroom called Zooniverse.  On the website it states that it “provides opportunities for people around the world to contribute to real discoveries in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology”.  Andrew talked very highly of the learning opportunities that this website has provided to his students.  There are so many more great websites that provide great learning experiences for students that they would never have access to if it was not for technology.  This week Tyler shared and posted a video his blog post that showcased how technology improves student learning for students who attend Minnetonka schools.  It would be amazing to have the opportunity  to teach using the technology that was showcased in the video and to know how to implement the technology used effectively.  While I was reading Andrew’s blog post “Learning With and Without Tech” he reminded me about a teaching experience when he talked about Chris Hadfield singing with students from across Canada during Music Monday.  My students in my grade two classroom were able to watch Hadfield sing and they sung along with him through the use of technology.  It was a very fun learning experience for my students and for the other students across Canada.  We were able to take part in a fantastic learning experience without having to live in an urban center.  Technology helps open the door for rural students!  For example students are able to take classes online that might not be able to be offered due to many factors that occurs when attending schools in a rural area.  They also can have access to many resources through using technology in the classroom.

3. Technology allows for students to make connections and learn from other people.

I think it is amazing how technology has evolved over the years and Rick Schwier’s presentation on the History of Educational Technology from EC&I831 came to mind.  I wrote a blog post after his presentation and reflected on how education and the tools we used has evolved when I was going to school as a young girl.  Not only did he talk about how technology has evolved, but Schwier discussed how social media can allow people to make connections with others.  He talked to us that humans are social people and communication skills is very important to have.  Another educator who believes in the importance of making connections is Rita Pierson.  In her Ted Talk “Every Kid Needs a Champion”  she discussed how we need to start talking about “The value and importance of human connection…relationship.”  Students can interact with others through apps, Twitter, blogging platforms, and many of the Google tools just to name a few.  My students enjoy exploring other classroom blogs and sharing what they have been learning about on our classroom blog.  I have not used Twitter before in my classroom, but it has been something that I have considered.  I have seen blogging has not only improved my students writing, but their engagement in learning as well.  It has also provided me the opportunity to teach my students how to be good digital citizens and teach them lessons about digital citizenship.

Connected Learning

Photo Credit: Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub

Some things that need to be considered:

1. Teachers need to be trained in how to use technology effectively in the classroom and what new digital tools are available to use to enhance individual learning.

For learning experiences using technology to be successful teachers need to have training in how to use the different tools and how to implement technology effectively in the classroom.  If a teacher is not prepared and does not understand the digital tools then it could lead to classroom management problems and teachers not using instructional time effectively.  The school division needs to provide professional development opportunities  and train their teachers in how to effectively to use the different tools, especially if they are expecting them to use technology in the classroom.  During the debate on Tuesday teacher training was discussed.  I also think that many teachers do not know about all of the amazing tools that are available for them to use to help students individually in the classroom.  Teachers need time to explore the different opinions available in order to choose the best fit for their students and provide time for the student to understand how the learning tool works through modeling and coaching while they are using the tool.  Someone in our EC&I830 class also made a great point on how teachers need to also take initiative in their own personal development. (I’m sorry my computer lost connection near the end of class and I was not able to save the chat to give credit to this person).  I agree that as an educator there are many ways to gain professional development in a variety of areas through accessing professional development online.  I could relate to Kyle DuMont’s blog post when he discussed how many people on staff go to him when they have questions about technology.  For example, I have also have many people come to me when they have questions about their Smartboard.  Over the past few years we have had a huge turnover of staff and they did not have the professional development that we had when the Smartboards were put in our classrooms. I have also experienced a problem when I plan for a substitute teacher because many of our substitute teachers do not know how to use some of the tools we use in our classroom.

2.  The use of technology can be distractive to some students.

I have heard many educators talk about how their students become distracted when they use technology in the classroom.  Tami Strang talks in post how many students are tempted to “take a moment and “peek” at sports scores, the latest headlines, or the number of “likes” [they have] accumulated on [their] latest Facebook or Instragram posts.”  She even posted a graph showcasing the “top means of distraction and technology misuse in the classroom.”

cengage.learning.distraction.classroom

Photo Credit: Source

Amy Scuka discussed about students being distracted in her blog post “Nothings Fine, I’m Torn.”  I have not had too many experiences of students being distracted using technology because my students are only in grade two. I can see how many teachers who teach upper elementary, middle year, and high school students can get distracted through using other tools or social media instead of completing an assignment.

3. Students are very connected to technology.

During our class Sherry Turkle’s Ted Talk “Connected, but Alone?” was mentioned.  She studies technology and people’s plugged in lives.  In the video she talked about how the devices people use are so powerful “that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.”  She explores how people are plugged in and how people “are losing the true connectedness with each other.”  I was introduced to Turtle’s Ted Talk when I took EC&I832 and I discussed her ideas she explored in a blog post that I wrote on September 21st.  Are we depending too much on technology?  Are we teaching students to be too plugged into the world instead of living in the moment and interacting with others face to face instead of behind technology?

There are many factors to consider when thinking about using technology in the classroom.  I have only talked about some of the benefits and negative side to using technology.  What are your thoughts on technology in the classroom? Does technology enhance or hinder learning in the classroom?

Even through their are many factors to consider when using technology I still believe that technology enhances learning in the classroom!

 

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12 Comments

  1. Justine, great blog! Very impressive! I especially liked your points about bringing the focus back to human connections. I’ve seen Rita Pierson’s Ted Talk before and she’s spot on when she says students don’t learn from people they don’t like, in that human connection and relationship building is an important component in the technology in the classroom debate. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Great Article Justine! One of the points that stood out to me was your second point about how technology allows for new learning to occur. I think too often that teachers prefer to teach material “the same way they always have” rather than venturing into new technological possibilities. The truth is that students are responding better to a technology focused approach and it is up to us to change our teaching strategies to match that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kyle! Yes technology does provide the opportunity to teach in a new way and can help teachers expand on how they teach concepts to students. I agree that some teachers do get stuck in their old ways of teaching and are reserved to expand outside of their comfort zone. Students are growing up in a technological world and do respond better to technology. I agree that we need to change our ways of teaching to better meet our students learning needs.

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  3. Justine, I am so so impressed with your blog. You bring up many excellent points in this entry, but one that you made me think about is when you stated that “Technology helps open the door for rural students! For example students are able to take classes online that might not be able to be offered due to many factors that occurs when attending schools in a rural area. They also can have access to many resources through using technology in the classroom.”
    As a teacher with Regina Public Schools, I sometimes forget about geographical access to people and places. Technology does allow for some great learning opportunities to students and teachers who are in remote locations.

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  4. Pingback: EdTech in class doesn’t just enhance learning, it IS learning. | Logan Petlak

  5. Pingback: Technology has replaced Play and is ruining our Health – ottenbreitblog

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