In many ways I’m disappointed that this class has come to an end. Discussing edtech issues with fellow educators from all over the country has been a privilege. I have definitely had to evaluate my point of view and it has undergone changes again and again. I have been challenged to think critically about how I use technology in my classroom and I have even been presented with issues that I had not previously considered. It was intriguing to speak with fellow educators who have very different viewpoints on educational technology. It was very encouraging to discover that whether teachers are for or against edtech, a genuine love for students and a concentration on their needs was foremost. Throughout the course I came to several key realizations which I will attempt to summarize here.
The first debate covered the merits of technology in the classroom and I came to the conclusion that technology for the sake of itself is a perilous venture. Each integration of technology in the classroom must be weighed and measured for it’s ability to enhance the learning for students. Teachers should not be scared to abandon certain aspects of their edtech strategy if it proves inefficient or contrary to learning. Secondly, we discussed whether we should be teaching content that can be found on Google. I came to a strong realization that there are certain pieces of information that must be scaffolded and therefore must be memorized. However, I also am a strong believer in challenging students with critical questions and real world problems that cannot be simply searched. Practical application and skill development are key skills for the 21st century. When it comes to the role of technology in our health and wellness, I came away with the notion that in many ways screen time, online bullying, and the stresses placed upon children due to technology are indeed affecting our youth. Although there are many instances in which technology can provide health benefits, if we are truly considering all health aspects including mental health, it seems as though a balanced approach to tech use with youth is warranted. Ian makes a great point about the resiliency of kids which i think is necessary to keep in mind. In the fourth debate we tackled the question of openness and sharing in educational settings. I am still of the opinion that we need to do right by our students and be cautious with how and why we share on social media. However, some of the greatest lightbulb moments in my classroom have come from making connections with classrooms and individuals from around the world. It has truly opened my students eyes to a different worldview.
Tech for equity was another tough topic to tackle but due to my experiences overseas, I still had to come to the conclusion that although technology has made great strides for equity and that the bar continues to be raised, there is still much work to be done. There are definitely many more marginalized voices being heard because of technology but at the same time, without equal access for all, it can hardly be equitable. Social media is a huge reason why so many more people are interconnected. However, it is also clearly playing a major role in the development of children in our society. As previously mentioned, the sheer number of hours spent in front of screens on social media is staggering compared to even 5 years ago. In my opinion, this is also an area teachers must approach with good modelling and a balanced strategy. The appropriate use of social media for positivity must be a part of every classroom. As Andy states in his summary, “with the right dosage and application, technology has the ability to enrich our lives, not harm them, but it must be used appropriately, responsibly, and we must be explicitly taught directions for use.” If not, we will continue to see students who are depressed, overweight, stressed out, lacking sleep and unable to communicate face to face.
Lastly we discussed the corporatization of education and the role that companies now play in the future of our children. Once again I was reminded that these types of decisions must always be made with students’ best interests in mind. Education is a market that is ready to be tapped by many companies that would love a piece of the pie. We need to ask ourselves, what’s the cost to our kids? and is it worth it? I’m looking forward to discussing the overuse of technology and the necessity of unplugging from time to time as well.
In general I have come away with several key learnings from the course this term. I’m calling these Luke’s Keys to Edtech Use. Although they may seem simple, when applied to the issues discussed above, they have proven to be extremely good reminders when implemented in practice. In essence, we will not be able to fight the future. This is the way the world is headed. What we can do is insure that students are first and foremost, that we are giving kids a balanced education, and that we are modelling what it means to live in a digital world. Can we fight the future? I certainly think we would be foolish to try.
Luke’s Keys to Edtech Issues
- Keep Kids First
- Take a Balanced Approach
- Model Model Model
In the spirit of the debate format of the class, Steve and I decided to record a podcast in which we tackled and summarized some of the issues presented in this course. We expound upon these in the following podcast. We also researched some helpful links in our show notes to further explore these topics. Please enjoy the debut episode of “Steve’s Wrong vs. No I’m Not”