How Much Is Too Much Classroom Technology?

A guest post written by EdNet Insight editor Anne Wujick Schools are adopting new technologies at an ever quickening pace—tablets, smartphones, interactive projectors, even 3-D displays. And the array of technologies that students have access to outside the classroom is […]

A guest post written by EdNet Insight editor Anne Wujick

Schools are adopting new technologies at an ever quickening pace—tablets, smartphones, interactive projectors, even 3-D displays. And the array of technologies that students have access to outside the classroom is almost dizzying. With technology tools in place, there is so much exciting experimentation going on as educators explore the many ways these tools can be used to enhance teaching and learning. But not everyone is a fan. Many educators worry that technology can be a distraction and others have concerns about just what the consequences might be for today’s multitasking, always tuned-in students. Where do we find the right balance?

On the one hand…technology is an amazing tool that enhances the learning process  On the other hand…the way we integrate technology is often misguided, and we sometimes rely on it too much
“Technologies like tablets and student response devices are so engaging. Students really like being able to accomplish a task using technology and seem to work harder and longer at these tasks. In today’s world both students and their parents expect to use technology as a learning tool.” 

“It’s true that students really like using technology, but do the benefits go much deeper? With so many of these technology tools, It’s too easy to just ‘mess around’ without really getting to the heart of the learning experience. A quick Google search is no substitute for doing real research.”  
 
“Technology supports self-directed leaning. I’m no longer the font of all wisdom – students can search out information from a wide variety of resources and then take on the responsibility of evaluating and sharing what they have learned.  I get to coach, query, guide and support that learning.”     
“Technology can support self-directed learning, but too often it’s a major distraction. Students get caught up in the ‘gee whiz’ elements and flit from site to site, barely reading, copying unthinkingly.  Sometimes teachers are much too uncritical of a technology-based presentation, allowing flash to substitute for substance. We all need to learn to focus more and probe more deeply and if technology helps, great. But it’s no silver bullet.” 

“I can’t imagine managing my classroom and differentiating instruction without the support of technology tools.  Sites that offer resources on any given topic at different reading and complexity levels, adaptive tests, the ability to post and collect assignments online, dashboards that allow me to see at a glance which students aren’t mastering a concepts, all make it easier to be sure I am meeting the needs of every student.”

“This might be true if I had access to all the tools that I need. Too often I get a report that identifies concepts and skills that my students are not mastering, without a hint as to where I might find appropriate resources, calibrated to just the right level for each student, that would help. I spend a lot of time searching out resources, but it’s frustrating to have only part of what I need to really help me fine-tune my teaching.”  
 
“Technology is essential if we are to develop 21st century skills—creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and of course information, media and technology literacy. Use of technology tools and resources support students’ acquisition of skills like creativity, innovation and productivity, all critical to students’ future success.” “I certainly engaged my students in problem-solving and critical thinking long before we had widespread access to technology. Are Facebook and instant messaging great examples of collaboration and communication? Students need to learn about face-to-face collaboration and communication. Technology is a useful tool, but it’s not the only way to develop the entire 21st century skill set.”

 

We’d love to know—when it comes to classroom technology, what do you think is the right balance?

Posted by Hannah Hudson

Hannah Hudson is the editorial director of WeAreTeachers. You can follow her on Twitter at @hannahthudson or on Facebook here. Email her at hannah@weareteachers.com.

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