To say that technology enhances or does not enhance learning is a complicated question. We live in the day and age of technology, and as educators, it is our responsibility to teach for the future and that future includes technology. I think a big part of having technology in the classroom enhances learning. This year alone, I have found myself relying more and more on it to help my students learn effectively. For example, with my Calculus class, I was relying heavily on Khan Academy to help supplement my students’ learning.
It was my first time teaching it, so there was a lot of “learning together” going on. I was also using graphing calculators and apps to help my students visualize first, and then internalize what certain graphs look like so when it came time for the big exam in May, they wouldn’t even need to look at a calculator to know the behaviors of certain functions.
One of the biggest factors to integrating technology in the classroom that we debated on Monday was cost. It costs a lot of money to integrate a new set of laptops, or a new program, or a new app. I’m lucky at Prairie South that we do not have the 1:1 rule that many of the Regina teachers were discussing on Monday. However, the tech accessibility at Central is limited. We have three working computer labs, and at this point, they are all
being used as classrooms for majority of the day so booking into one is nearly impossible! We also have two sets of chrome books, which are awesome….but slow. The Wi-Fi is not the most reliable in the school which can render the chrome books almost useless in the hour of time we get to use them. As a result, I definitely do not use tech in my classroom as frequently as I’d like.
However, I am pro-tech in the classroom as there are so many benefits to using it! Vawn Himmelsbach at TopHat.com stated these 6 pros to using tech in the classroom:
- Using technology in the classroom allows you to experiment more in pedagogy and get instant feedback.
- Technology in the classroom helps ensure full participation.
- There are countless resources for enhancing education and making learning more fun and effective.
- Technology can automate a lot of your tedious tasks.
- With technology in the classroom, your students have instant access to fresh information that can supplement their learning experience.
- We live in a digital world, and technology is a life skill.
The last one is the most important one to me. Knowing that my students live in a world of technology, teaching digital citizenship is the crucial to their success in the bigger world. With so much access to technology, I love teaching my students how to research properly, how to think critically about what they are reading online, and how to search for things effectively. I encourage them to use sites like Khan Academy (I actually linked it to my Google Classroom this semester, and used their AP Calculus prep course to help my students study for the exam), SparkNotes and No Fear Shakespeare (for when my students miss a reading or just need more help understanding the language) to help enhance their understanding of course content.
My favourite is being able to teach the teenagers in my classroom those important life lessons when it comes to cellphone usage. We discussed a lot on Monday about appropriate use of cellphones and how to structure it. I allow cellphones in my classroom, and I often have students working on projects, connecting to my Google Classroom, or reading on their phones. However, I am not naïve that they are “only” doing school work. We discussed the idea of multi-tasking and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for students.
The fact that I teach high school influences my opinion and I believe that they need to learn how to multi-task effectively because as teachers and adults, we are expected to multi-task daily. Of course, I reprimand students for being on their cellphones while I am delivering a lesson, but when it comes time to their individual work time, I allow them to figure out a balance that works for them. As long as they are on task most of the time, cellphones are allowed — otherwise, they lose the privilege. They need to learn for themselves when is the appropriate and inappropriate times for their usage. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty stated, “it seems inevitable that some sort of hand-held wireless device will eventually become part of education systems across the country” in the Maclean’s article: Don’t give students more tools of mass distraction, so why not embrace this change? If we fight it, what are we really doing? We are hindering our students’ abilities to be able to use their mini-computers in effective ways, rather than as just a social connection tool. Would you not rather teach students about all the tools and information that is out there and give them access, as well as teach them how to effectively use it to create something big?
Students learn from teachers more effectively and will remember a story, or an experience much more than something they read once on a device. So why wouldn’t you want to us this knowledge and power to teach students the “how-to”, the “why”, and teach them to ask questions about the tech world and what they see, and the social do’s and don’ts of society, instead of leaving them to discover it on their own?