Questioning the “Results”

Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning: Agree or Disagree….?

Hello, my name is Nicole, and I Agree and Disagree.

One of the most difficult situations I have with EdTech comes from the place where my personal and professional identities collide. I worry about the physical and emotional “results” that when my student engage heavily with technology at school, and then go home to possibly sit in front of a television, computer, tablet or phone for hours on end. Is it because of my awareness of this issue that I hope to be the kind of teacher that provides balance to my students, opportunities to use technology and be immersed in nature on a daily basis. Because I agree that technology can be a tool that is both beneficial and destructive to learning, depending on how it is used.

The moment that my technological “world” changed was in 2013. I was in charge of the finish line at a multi-school track meet, and I needed to send a list of “results” (hah) to someone at the other end of the track. I began to jot down by hand, as quickly as I could, the names of the athletes. A grade 8 student beside me, said “Mrs. Putz, why don’t you just take a picture?” I won’t ever forget this epiphany, not because it was a moment that forever changed the way that I “do things” in my everyday life, but I couldn’t… for the life of me… figure out why I had not thought of this before. I was a 28 year old owner of an iPhone, and for some reason the possibility of taking a photo of something I wanted to remember, save, or write down later had never occurred to me because I had only ever really used it for….phoning people.

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meme of zach morris phone don’t be jealous of my cellular telephone

As I stood there in my element with the wind blowing softly as the birds chirped,  the sun warming my shoulders and kids excited voices humming under the loudspeaker at the outdoor track where I had literally spilled my own blood, sweat and tears over after 10 years of track and field (as a U of R athlete, and then a coach); my own “result” of this moment was transformative. It paved way for a major evolution in my habits, what I perceived to be normal, as well as my own attitude towards technology.

The Hybrid Mind

Rather than position myself on the side that claims that “computers do not improve students results” or that “digital tools are transforming K-12 classrooms” I will position myself within Louv’s

“third possibility, the emergence of what I call the hybrid mind. The ultimate multitasking will be to live simultaneously in both the digital and physical world, using computers to maximize our powers to process intellectual data and natural environments to ignite all of our senses and accelerate our ability to learn and to feel; in this way, we could combine the “primitive” powers of our ancestors with the digital speed of our teenagers. Evolution may (or may not) be out of our hands, but as individuals we can accept and celebrate our technological skills at the same time that we seek the gifts of nature essential for the realization of our full intellectual and spiritual potential.

The best preparation for the twenty-first century, therefore, may be a combination of natural and virtual experience. An instructor who trains young people to become the pilots of cruise ships describes “two kinds of students, those who are good at video games, who are terrific with the electronic steering; and those who grew up outside—they’re far better at having a special sense of where the ship is. We tend to get one or the other kind.” The first kind of student, he says, has a talent he prizes. “We have a lot of electronics on the ship.” The second kind of student has another talent he needs. That student, using a wider range of senses, “actually knows where the ship is.”  The ideal pilot, he says, is the person who has a balance of high-tech and natural knowledge: “We need people who have both ways of knowing the world.” In other words, a hybrid mind.”

http://rsfsocialfinance.org/2013/01/31/nature-smart-2/

Ed Tech for Social Justice

In my experience both as a teacher and as a human being, technology is engaging. I have had countless experiences where technology has aided in my being able to successfully teach a concept in my classroom, and has given my students experiences that I know they would not have had interacting with a curricular outcome had technology not been used. Some technology that I like to use in my classroom: Kahoot, Brainpop and Mathletics.  I am far from tech savvy. It is not because I am against it. Its just not really in my “norm”.

This year my class has been involved online with an organization called Kiva. Kiva is a non profit that allows “investors” like the students in my classroom, to choose a group or an individual that we will invest a sum of money in, in increments of 25.00$. For the record, I was passed an online gift card in a Christmas gift exchange a few years ago to Kiva, and it has been one of my favourite teaching tools for this reason.

Check out their website at http://www.kiva.org.

 

When it is said that computers do not improve the “results” in learning for students, I have to disagree, and then proceed to question thus “results” we are in pursuit of. The “results” of this year long activity using technology in my own classroom, are that my students learn empathy; they imagine what it like to live a day in the life of someone whose challenges may far outweigh their own. And if those challenges do not, then my students find someone that exists on this planet that they can relate to that may be outside the parameters of gender, race and age that they typically interact with. The “results” show that my students can face a social justice issue and they can have a voice. The “results” are that they then want to have a bake sale and raise money so that we as a class can invest more into more people and watch as those people grow their business, and provide for their families all over the world. Oh yes, and I suppose we should talk about their mathematical “results”. They exercise their math skills as we learn about: the banking system, interest, how a loan works; debt. These are not in the Grade 5 curriculum, but we learn them anyways. I hope that does not skew our”results”.

 

(The above clip is not suitable for young children as it refers to assault)

I think that people are arguing over if technology helps results is particularly interesting, because the results that we are looking for may or may not be measurable in the first place. They may or may not, even matter. Starting an online movement may not be an curricular outcome, but can have huge impact in the lives of our students and students all over the world. While we do know from reading Using Assistive Technology in Teaching Children with Learning Disabilities in the 21st Century  “technology can open doors and break down barriers for children, youth, and adults with disabilities. This could be whether in the classroom or workplace, assistive technology, including devices, software, recordings, and much more, can increase, maintain, or improve the capabilities of individuals with learning disabilities. “However, if we are using technology simply for the purpose of our students “getting it” and making mundane tasks more flashy, then I think we are missing the point. The article Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results says OECD

“says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.”  http://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796.

Which shows incredible value, if you value the Pisa test.

Technology will enhance learning, if the learning is valuable to the students. This is why we can provide technology to students and they can still seem distracted. I would prefer it we as educators and curriculum makers look more closely at what exactly we are teaching, and why.

In conclusion, it is my goal to use technology as a tool to help humanize the learning experience. My official statement after this fantastic debate is that I, agree that the benefit of technology will outweigh the concerns surrounding the use of technology only IF the teachers using thus technology are present and aware of the existance those concerns as they relate to meaningful learning and incorporate such attitude into their teaching practices and pedagogy.

 

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