The EdTech Debates have officially begun in EC&I 830! The first topic for us to focus on was does technology in the classroom enhance student learning? After a very informative discussion that dissected both sides of the argument, I feel that though I agree that there are some cons to having technology in the classroom, I am left feeling like I agree more that when used properly, technology does support the quality of learning a child will receive in my classroom.
Looking at the article Six Pros And Cons of Technology In The Classroom In 2018 supports why I feel that technology does play a role in successful learning environments. The article first explains that technology in a classroom does not solely mean devices in the classroom. Rather, it can be "anything that facilitates an interaction between teacher and student." I believe that I should use a balanced approach when incorporating technology into my classroom routines and activities. I try to spice up some of my lessons in my grade two class by using hands-on activities that incorporate school iPads. I frequently use videos on my data projector as a visual reference for my students that learn best that way. These videos create discussions that engage an interaction between myself and my students. I use specific resources such as Brain Pop Jr. and Go Noodle to make some of my lessons more interactive, as a way for my students to collaborate with others in our classroom, and to meet the variety of learning needs my students possess.
I believe that engagement with families is crucial to my success in teaching my students. I use Bloomz as a form of technology to facilitate an interaction between myself and my students families. It provides a safe space to share what we are learning in our classroom, while creating an easy and convenient way to stay connected with the teacher if any questions or concerns arise. I know that one of the arguments that came up was about how technology means that teachers are now always "on call". It is so important to set up boundaries and expectations with the technology you choose to utilize in this career. For instance, I send out a weekly email with all of the important events taking place that week. I also use the messenger piece on Bloomz so that I can quickly 'text' a parent if I need to or vice versa. That being said, at the beginning of the year, I set up boundaries with my families: I only check my email before and after school and I only reply to messages before 6:00 PM on weeknights that may come in on my Bloomz messenger. Evenings and weekends are my time. I finally realized this past summer that I had not set up those crucial boundaries in previous years, and it was draining me rapidly.
I also feel that you need to balance the technology pieces you incorporate into your classroom.
Technology is all about choice. It does not need to be involved in every lesson if you do not want it to. You'll be on the path of success if you use it the way you are comfortable with. Technology enhances the environment when it is used as a tool rather than a crutch. You need to know how to use it properly so that students get the most benefit out of it. You do not need to try a million different types of technology at once. Try one thing at a time and incorporate it in a way that works best for how you teach.
Throughout my career I have tried out a variety of technology (some I liked and some I didn't) and kept the tools that worked best for me and my students.
The teacher should still be the one facilitating and should use the technology to help support students in the way they see fit to strengthen the learning that is going to take place.