I have always been very active in encouraging the use of Educational Technology in classrooms and used to cite the below as 3 reasons why we should:
- We live in a technological world
- Technology can engage students
- Learning is multisensory and technology is also multisensory
In addition to the above I need to note that I do not believe all lessons should use EdTech as EdTech is only a tool for learning. It is therefore the Learning that matters most, so if technology is not aiding, enhancing or redefining learning, or if technology is being used just because it can then I think it should be left out.
Reflecting on the above I still believe strongly in point 1. Technology now has a place in almost every aspect of our life and with the Internet of things technology is ever expanding into areas of life within which it previously didn’t exist. As such we need to use technology in learning. We also need to teach students about using technology in learning including when it is appropriate not to use technology and when it is appropriate to disconnect, as I believe we all need to.
With regards point 2, I am no longer convinced this point is true anymore as technology has become the norm for students. The difference which technology brings is the ability to engage with content in different ways as opposed to engaging with technology. Teachers can allow students to interact with science, mathematics and every other subject in new and interesting ways. Teachers can engage students in conversations with famous and interesting people from across the world through technology. One example of this being students having conversations with an astronaut in space as at least one school is doing currently.
I still believe in Point 3 however would expand on it now. It isn’t just the multisensory aspect of technology which is beneficial but the social aspect as well. Through technology students can collaborate and work with others. Technology also helps in developing other skills and attributes in students thought engaging them in critical thinking and problem solving tasks.
The challenges as I see them however are that teachers need to model best practice for students and in order to do so need to themselves be comfortable in using the technology. Students also have to be educated about the safe use of the internet. Again teachers have to be aware of the dangers, etc in order to do this and I don’t always believe we are. I also think we need to build up the digital resilience and work life balance aspects of using technology as well as the ability to critically evaluate information for validity and reliability.
I don’t think we will ever have proof that use of tech directly and positively impacts on student results however this is the wrong question. Tech is part of life and we are preparing students for this life after school, so surely tech has its part to play.