Push-me-Pull-you: The Dichotomy of Ed Tech

Hi Everyone!  My name is Luke Braun and I’ve been a teacher with Regina Public for 7 years now.  I teach Middle Years French Immersion.  I love being outside and learning to make things. Our classroom is the place to come if you need tools, sandpaper, wires, or odds and ends for a project.  Some of my best teaching memories have been outside of the classroom or in a Practical Arts environment where students really have a chance to shine while they apply what they’ve learned through hand-on experience.  I also love spending time with my wife and 2 young kids.  I love cycling and fixing bikes (according to my wife this borders on obsession at times).  Technology in the classroom has been a huge factor in my teaching career.  I wouldn’t consider myself terribly tech savvy but I’m always eager to learn.  It’s been a steep learning curve so far in 2016.  I’ve had this blog for just under 5 months now and I feel like I’m becoming more comfortable with the format and and also with the value of this communication medium.

I enjoyed ECI831 very much and I’m really looking forward to discussing some of the issues that are involved with technology integration in the classroom.  It should be a very interesting opportunity to further investigate my own preconceptions about technology in the classroom.  I have been teaching French Immersion in Regina Public Schools for seven years now and have a dichotomous relationship with technology in education.  As someone who has invested hours into developing MYPAA (Middle Years Practical and Applied Arts) kits, and as someone who loves the outdoors, I see the value of students learning skills with their hands that allow them to problem solve and become creative thinkers and tinkerers.  However, I have a smartboard in my classroom as well as computers and student devices (BYOD).  We use Google Classroom and Google Apps for Education to stay organized.  We also do quite a bit of blogging.  We definitely rely heavily on these technologies in our learning, not to mention the software that accompanies the hardware.

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Through the course of the last class, which was more focused on Social Media and Open Education, I came to the realization that technology in schools is really a lot like the two headed push-me pull-you from the Doctor Doolittle story.  On one side, the technology has the potential to completely transform education through concepts like open access, Connectivism and Rhyzomatic Learning.   I love the way Dave Cormier describes his disillusionment with the idea of teaching as “putting what’s in my head into someone else’s.”  There is just so much more potential in the belief that learning is not the transfer of one set of knowledge to another.  Technology is one of the ways in which we can now begin to encourage students to share and connect, and to foster deeper and more meaningful learning.  The example in the video below illustrates the contrasting nature of the technological reality that our students exist within.

However, there is also the other ‘head’ to the technology creature.  In this side of the issue we find the many pitfalls and problems that come with the use of tech tools in the classroom.  This can be as simple as access and network issues, to issues of protecting student identity online and cyberbullying.  Does this mean that the negative aspects of technology in the classroom negates its use?  Not at all.  In many ways the issues that arise at times through the use of technology in schools should cause educators to examine and carefully plan implementation strategies. Educators should empower students to take responsibility for their online identities, encouraging them to become true contributors to positive digital learning spaces.  There are so many positive aspects to the use of technology in education but I still feel like I am being pushed/pulled from two different directions at times.

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Sometimes, I feel like I need to try every new technology that I come across and find ways to incorporate it into my teaching.  I try to constantly stay up to date with the latest apps, web tools, and tech teaching strategies.  Other times, due to some of the issues involved with technology, I feel the overwhelming urge to take my class outside and plant a garden, take apart a lawnmower engine, or even try building a kite to see if it will fly. This is the balance that I seek to have in my classroom.  A place where students are not bombarded with technology but where they can use it to enhance their learning.  A place where students can feel free to ask questions and get their hands dirty if need be.

In a nutshell, that’s where my head is at as I start this class.  I am looking forward to discussing both sides of these issues and trying to flesh out the realities that accompany technology integration in Saskatchewan Schools.  I am really looking forward to interacting with the rest of the ECI830 team as we wade into the #greatedtechdebate!  My goals for this term include:

a) Discuss a balanced and effective #edtech strategy in the classroom

b) Discover ideas for minimizing or avoiding #edtech problems/pitfalls

c) Hear #edtech success/failure stories (we learn the most through failure)

d) Grow my PLN

What are some of your goals for this term?  Looking forward to meeting them together this term.  Cheers.

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10 thoughts on “Push-me-Pull-you: The Dichotomy of Ed Tech

  1. Great post Luke! Sounds like you’ll be tagged “mr fix it” for our group for the semester! Right on! Thanks for sharing!
    One of my goals is to determine where the line is for “how much technological integration is too much”!

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  2. Hi Luke. I am relieved to hear that you have been doing this ‘blogging’ stuff for 5 months and are only now starting to feel you have a handle on it. To me it feels like learning a new language. I am looking forward to find a way to sit in this ‘discomfort’ until it becomes more comfortable 🙂 angela

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    • For sure yeah it’s always a process. We learn the most through trying and being ok with failure. Even though it’s uncomfortable sometimes, it’s a good place to be.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your post this week Luke. I teach grade 2 but am also exploring the idea of a balanced approach to implementing edtech. I want every digital experience that my students experience in the classroom to have purpose but I want them to want and appreciate the non digital experiences as well.

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    • I think you said it well. Designed tech experiences with purpose is the key for sure. I loved what you did with your little guys in the winter term.

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  4. Great post Luke! I’ve always been intrigued by technology and I’ve always been interested in finding effective and impactful ways to integrate it into my own classroom. I’ve given many things a try, but I often feel discouraged when I run into some of the issues you pointed out. Seeing you set up your Smart Board every morning (Luke teaches at my school AND in the room next-door to mine), taking apart computers and building circuit boards, gives me inspiration to take these things on as well. Teachers like you are the key and the much needed bridge for tech in our class. Demonstrating to newer and older teachers alike, the methods technology can be applied in the classroom are not only inspiring, but necessary if we want tech to be applied and used in ALL of our classrooms. I like your fearless approach and I’m glad to call you a colleague. Keep up the good work, you’re definitely making an impact and you’re allowing others to see the many ways tech can be implemented, used and even dismantled in the classroom.

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    • Thanks very much Dre. You’re too kind. It’s been great teaching with you and taking masters classes these past few years.

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  5. Great to meet you Luke! My husband teachers construction and welding at the high school in town and I often hear him share the successes of students when they have the opportunity to work in a hands on environment. Sounds like a great classroom to be in and I look forward to learning more about how you balance tech in the classroom. What really struck me was your statement, “Educators should empower students to take responsibility for their online identities, encouraging them to become true contributors to positive digital learning spaces. ” – I completely agree and its something I strive to do in all facets of my role.

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    • Thanks Stephanie. Great to meet you. Yeah giving kids some hands on opportunities is so important. I find that those who traditionally don’t do well in the classroom setting thrive when given a hands on task. Looking forward to learning with you this term.

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  6. Pingback: How about we just Google it? | roxanneleungsblog

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