Debate #1: Does Technology Enhance Classroom Learning?

On Tuesday we started the great Edtech debate. Nancy and Amanda arguing that technology in the classroom enhances learning, whereas Trevor and Matt arguing against the same claim.  Both of the videos were creative and engaging.  Kudos to both duos for setting the bar so high.

Prior to the debate, I would side very much so on the pro-technology side of the argument.  I believe that there needs to be a balance of technology in the classroom.  Technology needs to have a purpose, it cannot be the goal.  Technology is the vehicle for learning.   Being such a pro-technology person and teacher I was excited to hear the opposing argument.

Nancy and Amanda brought up some great points in the video.  Some of the main points that resonated with me include.  The aspect of connecting when a physical connection is taken away.  Currently, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This has changed our daily lives.  I am curious if this happened forty or fifty years ago, would the lack of technology, resulting in a lack of connection, lead to further mental health problems? The ability to connect is the 5th C that technology allows us to have communication with others that would otherwise be unsafe, or impossible in the past. Nancy and Amanda highlighted that the best part of online learning is that it can happen anywhere and at any time.  We have the ability to collaborate with one another, and we don’t even need to be in the same place.  With technology, schools can go beyond the traditional walls and reach a larger audience, which provides more engagement for our students.

Nancy and Amanda shared an inspiration video that shows the importance of connection.  This video highlights how technology can bring people together.  It also further promotes the ability for us to reach a larger audience.  Imagine the connections that we can have in the classroom if we connect with other classrooms globally.  We have so much that we can learn from each other.

Matt and Trevor did bring up many good counterpoints. Many classroom teachers use unnecessary technology in education.  In this claim often I see teachers using technology for the purpose of using technology.  Your finished your assignment, here is an iPad to consume the rest of the class.  Furthermore, Trevor and Matt explain this technology does not have any pedagogical value if used without purpose.  In addition, Trevor and Matt include that screentime and technology addition are downfalls of technology that can harm student’s wellbeing.

In the article, The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Is Not What We Expected, it is highlighted an interesting perspective of the need to go back to screen-free lifestyles.  The article brings up the new digital divide, stating that more affluent families with children will experience less screen time than those of poorer and middle-class families.  The argument states that there is a concern that children will not know how to interact with other people, and the need to revert to play-based learning.

Within the class discussion, I found some key points that were being shared.  We discussed that often with technology, schools and school divisions do not have the infrastructure, time, or money to provide meaningful training for the apps and programs that they use.  Alec brought up an excellent point suggesting that 50% split between hardware and training.  I shared in the class that I find that technology can provide a voice for those who are more unwilling to share in the classroom setting.  Jill countered my claim stating that she is finding the opposite.  She found in online classroom students are more likely to sit and be passive learners not willing to share as often as in the classroom. Melinda brought up an excellent point, often these tools can reduce some of the anxieties that students have.  A tool like Flipgrid could allow students multiple chances to redo their response until it was something that they were comfortable with sharing.

Another post that Nancy and Amanda directed us to is George Couros‘s Myths of Technology Series specifically the myth That Technology Equals Engagement.  I found this interesting as it gives validity to both sides of the debate.  Often we hear that students are so engaged when they are using technology.  As educators, we need to recognize the difference between “engagement” and “novelty”.  As educators, we need to view this from a different lens. We need to move from engaging students to empowering them.  George highlights the difference between compliance, engagement, and empowerment.

  • Compliance – Do this because I told you.
  • Engagement – Do this because you are excited.
  • Empowerment – Do this because you have the power to do something meaningful for yourself.

In conclusion, technology needs to be used as a tool FOR learning, and must have a purpose. The debate was able to highlight both sides of the argument.  Being so pro-technology in the classroom I believe it is important educators try to understand why some teachers are reluctant to use the technology in the classroom.  Trevor and Matt did a great job of highlighting these pieces.

My mind has slightly changed, I will always promote the use of technology in responsible ways in the classroom, but will be more mindful when I do.

I leave you with this quote from George’s series of myths.

If we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that empower our students to make a difference, our impact will go beyond their time they spent in our classrooms.  Technology alone will never provide this.

– George Couros

4 thoughts on “Debate #1: Does Technology Enhance Classroom Learning?

  1. Hey Curtis,
    I had many of the same thoughts as you blogged about. I have witnessed many teachers doing what you say in your post…filling extra time in the classroom with technology. I also liked Alec’s comment about the 50/50 spit in funds…50% for purchasing the technology and 50% for training costs. I also found it interesting in the article “The Digital Gap Between the Rich and Poor Is Not What We Expected” explaining the divide between affluent family’s limited screen use and poorer families increasing the screen time. I see this every day in my classroom. Our ‘clientele’ is similar to an inner-city school and most of our population would fit into the ‘poorer’ category. Many of my students spend all free time connected to some sort of device. Few students participate in organized sports or any other type of activity that would get them out of the house. I had not thought of this fact before this article!

  2. Pingback: Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning? – Christina Patterson

  3. Hey Curtis,

    Great recap of the debate! I appreciate the details and specifics you seem to effortlessly articulate. My opinion too changed slightly with the increase of awareness of technology usage in the classroom. Valued but more consideration to the why and the end goal is always key which sometimes I lose when I find something “so great!! We have to try this!” thoughts arise.

  4. Thank you for your perceptive post! I too feel that technology allows us to stay connected when the physical connection has been taken away. The video “Born Friends” resonated with me as well. When we think of technology in this way, it does lend to building strong global connections. I feel this need for global connection will continue to grow well into the future. Great quote from George Couros! Thank you for all of your insight into this topic of debate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s