Hello EC&I 830! Welcome to my second blog and recap of our class’s first debate sessions. We were fortunate to witness and listen in on two highly debatable topics. I want to begin by sharing my many thanks and gratitude for the work that went into both presentations. They set the bar for our class and allowed us to engage in meaningful dialogue, regardless of which side we may feel closely aligned with. Our first debate was on technology’s role in the classroom in enhancing our students’ learning. While many educators would agree with this statement, many others would disagree and share their ‘horror’ stories with technology and the management nightmare that it may pose.
I see the benefit of integrating technology with intent and purpose in the classroom. As a Connected Educator with the Regina Catholic School Division, we refer to and reflect on our practice through the SAMR model when integrating technology with enhancing the student’s educational experience. Don’t get me wrong, and it took me a few years to develop competency and confidence to move from the substitution and augmentation levels to the modification and redefinition levels of the model. When working within the modification and redefinition levels of the model, we begin to open doors of possibilities for our students. In my first EC&I 830 blog, I have demonstrated redefinition through our inter-school digital book clubs. Students are connected and becoming collaborators. The assignments are designed to be differentiated to meet the needs of all my students, and the sky is the limit for creativity. Furthermore, I have participated in the Global Read-aloud, which has allowed my students to connect on a larger scale. There are undoubtedly quantifiable benefits that prove technology enhances student learning. Linda Darling-Hammond (2014) explains that “when given access to appropriate technology used in thoughtful ways, all students-regardless of their respective backgrounds-can make substantial gains in learning and technological readiness.”
For many of us, we don’t even want to hear the word pandemic or any of the words associated! However, as educators, we need to recognize the gaps that the COVID-19 has presented challenges and has widened the achievement gap in our students. How do we collaborate with technology to narrow the gap and meet students where they are? Emma Cullen (2022) explains the importance of technology in our classrooms and goes on to say that Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) “is the standard of education that is expected today, but it can also improve education.” Students have a better understanding of technology now than ever before. Technology allows students to learn at their own pace, provides more resources, and keeps students engaged. Ultimately, technology is necessary to succeed in the real world.
On the other hand, technology can be a distraction and pose a classroom management nightmare!! In my classroom, I have to be strategic in where I seat some students who tend to veer off into the abyss of the internet. The focus becomes lost, and students engage in non-curricular items that ultimately leave the technology labeled a mere toy. James Doubek (2016) explains that “research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting-it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture.” Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer (2014) also explain how the pen is mightier than the keyboard by explaining the advantages of handwritten notes over notes typed digitally. Their study shows that “laptops with access to the internet can distract students, the present studies are the first to show detriments.” There are also the detriments of using technology when educators stay within the substitution or augmentation levels of the SAMR model. We need to be intentional and there needs to be a BALANCE!
There is no doubt that technology can be used as an educational tool to enhance the learning experience of our students. It must be done correctly. If technology is the expectation, then educators must be invested in by means of proper training and equipment. As educators, we need to remember less is more! Give yourself grace and patience! Technology is not an exception to the rule of moderation.