On Tuesday, in EDTC 400 I participated in the first debate with the rest of the class. The topic for this debate was that technology in the classroom enhances learning and we debated whether or not we agreed with this statement or not. Each week, two people chose to be the main debaters in this topic and present the class with their side and the information to back it up. On the “agree” side was Ashlee Sandiford. On the “disagree” side was Raeann.
Prior to starting the debate, the class was asked to vote on what their initial position was on the topic that technology enhances learning in the classroom. Most of the class, including myself were on the “agree” side. After the class voted, we listened to the opening arguments from Ashlee and Raeann and then the debate started. After the debate was over, we listened to the closing arguments from Ashlee and Raeann and then the class took another poll to state our position on the topic. I will not spoil what that final poll was now, but I will state it in the end.
In the beginning of the debate, I was all for technology in the classroom. I have seen technology be implemented into many classrooms while I was in my ECS 100 placement. While I was in my ECS 100 placement, I saw technology be used in ways that I never had the opportunity to experience. I witnessed students using their Chrome Books to write assignments, pause and restart videos at their own pace, and play games that implemented the knowledge just learnt in class. There were multiple carts of Chrome Books at the school I was placed in and many of the teachers used the Chrome Books and Google Classroom in their daily lessons.
While I was in my ECS 100 placement, I also witnessed technology enhancing student’s way of learning and completing assignments. Some of the students in the school have exceptionalities that makes it difficult for them to properly type out words or read long articles. Many of the students in these classrooms used Google Read and Write which enabled them to write their own essays or assignments without the need of extra assistance. Technology in these student’s hands with the guidance of teachers that understood the technology enhanced their learning and their ability to be independent in a classroom.
At the beginning of the debate, Ashlee made some really great points in her introduction video and gave us some articles and videos to watch after the debate. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me from the debate and Ashlee’s video was that technology can be a way to connect students with peers, teachers, and others around the world.
I watched both of the videos that Ashlee suggested for us to watch; the CNN video about the students in Brazil and the video about a teacher using Google Forms in the classroom. Both of the videos demonstrated ways that technology can be integrated into a classroom to create more opportunities for students to make connections and learn better.
The Google Forms video (the video below) really caught my attention. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to share with my teachers what was going on in my personal life outside of school that was sometimes hindering my ability to do my best in school. Often there is a lot going on in student’s lives when they are in high school, including sports, relationships, jobs, and family situations that will affect their ability to learn and be present in school. I think it is important that teachers recognize that there are other things going on in student’s lives and that google forms can give students a chance to communicate these situations with their teacher in a form they feel comfortable with.
As much as I think technology is great in classrooms and can really enhance learning, I found myself starting the get swayed by Raeann’s argument. Some of Raeann’s big arguments stating that technology does not enhance learning, but in fact hinders it, is that access to technology is not the same for every school or student, and there can be a loss of learning time when integrating technology into the classroom.
Raeann gave us two articles to read. The article that I was able to connect with most was The Dark Side of Educational Technology. Some of the points made in this article, as well as some of the points that Raeann made really stuck to me. The two biggest points that stuck out to me were the cost of technology and the access to good technology are two things that hinder learning.
Technology is not cheap. It is often quite expensive to get laptop carts for every classroom or even one cart for the school. Depending on the area of the school and its funding, some schools do not have the funding to pay for the technology that would enhance student learning.
Along with technology being expensive, technology and the internet are not always reliable. Raeann discussed the issue of having a large enough bandwidth to use the internet in her own home. I talked with her after the debate and she said that her family was not allowed to use the internet for a half an hour before she participated in EDTC 400 because the internet is not great in rural Saskatchewan. I really connected with this. On my grandparent’s farm, they have no internet and pretty bad service. Most of the time if I want to send a text message or use my data, I must stand in certain areas of the house in hopes for a signal that is more than one bar.
Access to reliable internet service is a luxury that not every student will have access to at home. Requiring students to use technology for assignments and homework will hinder the students that do not have access to it at home. Internet access in schools are not always reliable either, so teachers that want to integrate technology into their classrooms might not be able to if the internet it down or slow in their school. Teachers that attempt to integrate technology into a classroom where they know the internet is slow will likely waste class time trying to get a video to load or fix the technology.
Overall, when I think about technology in the classrooms and its ability to enhance learning, I still cannot make up my mind whether or not it does. I think in certain classrooms with teachers that have a good knowledge of how to use technology in meaningful ways, technology can enhance learning. I think technology can be a great way to enhance the learning of students with exceptionalities as there are so many apps and extensions that can enable independence and learning. Using technology in a classroom with students that do not have access to internet at home or the schools that have poor internet will not enhance learning. Technology when used in the right place and at the right time by a teacher with a good knowledge about technology can enhance learning. When not used in this way, technology can hinder the learning in a classroom.
Oh and before I forget, the results of the poll after the debate were close to 50/50 for agree and disagree, but disagree was about 60% while agree was close to 40%.
Thanks for reading my blog post! What are your thoughts about how technology enhances learning in the classroom?