To Use or Not To Use Technology?

Modern technologies have changed the way students learn and what we can use to teach them. Gone are the days of paper and pencil, a chalkboard in front of the room and rows of desks.  This is not to say that we are not able to use some of these at times, but as children have been changing with the advent of screens all around them and the use of touch-technology, we are less able to keep their attention and reach them with only those tools.

This change is only beginning to happen and due to the changing needs we see publishing companies reinventing themselves by making textbooks available on line and multiple teaching Apps appearing in the market.  Unfortunately, turning pages in a screen does not make a book more interesting, and playing a multiplication game only helps students with one small part of the curriculum.

At the same time as educators we ask ourselves whether or not to use one App or adopt a certain textbook.  In the fast changing world of today we also need the time to discern and compare all these options. It is also true that our own knowledge and personal relationship to technology affects the decisions we make regarding many of these issues.  In addition money, is a constraint as school districts ponder with decreasing budgets.

One of the realities of today’s fast changing technological world is that our own children and the ones we teach are natives of the 21st century, somewhat more comfortable and capable to understand these innovations.  I recall babysitting my favorite 2 years old two years ago and realizing that she could not speak much, but knew that pictures of her were taken with a cell phone and was able to prompt me to take one of her and even pose for it.

Accepting that our students are technology natives may seem the same as allowing them to be learning alone from a device that we find somewhat intimidating.  Let me elaborate here. Most 2 year olds today will touch the screen of an I-pad in the right way to make things happen, but if I do not guide them to the App where they are looking at animals and listening to their call, for example, they may end up mesmerized just by the control they have of the screen and look at any other file not necessarily educational.

I think the key word here is “control” and I will use it now.  A teacher overwhelmed by the lack of control s/he has of the class, may long for a computer lab where each child will interact with a screen and be involved.  In the same way, a mother (or a father?) overwhelmed by their daily chores 30 years ago may have used the TV as a way to control tired children.  Now that I used the word, I will go on: the factory approach of all children in desks, learning the same concept all at once, was an easy way to control 25 to 30 children together in the same room with only one adult.

I will ask you:

  • Just because a child is involved with a screen, is s/he learning?
  • Is the purpose of education to control the minds or to expand them?
  • As educators, should we give control of what and how to learn to our technology natives, or should we attempt to guide them?
  • How do we measure their learning now that we are accepting learning as an individual process?

Dear reader, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic of technology use in the classroom,

  • How are you using it? Or why you are not using it?
  • Why do you think it is enhancing learning or not?
  • What are the challenges that you encounter?
  • If you are a parent, your opinion will be very helpful also

And if you can circulate this blog to other parents, teachers, student, all opinions welcome, thanks,

Cecilia Villlabona