The debate this week for EC&I 830: Does technology enhance learning?
If you look at any of my blog posts, I think you will be able to figure out which side of this argument I agree with. However, each side brought up compelling arguments and I would like to take this time to provide a McGonagall clap for all of you.
I think it’s virtually impossible to argue that technology does not enhance learning. Technology can enhance learning for every student, but it can be life changing for people with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities are permanent, but Quenneville (2002) argues “the potential for assistive technology children with learning disabilities is great, and that its benefits include enhancing academic achievement in written expression, reading, mathematics, and spelling; improving organization; and fostering social acceptance“. Technology allows students with learning disabilities to take ownership of their own learning.
Last year (my first year of teaching), I had a student who had trouble reading and writing, so she requested a scribe during exams. After some internet sleuthing, I came across Read&Write for Google Chrome and asked how she would feel about trying it out for an exam. She loved it. She had never written an exam independently before, despite being more than capable of answering questions without a scribe. Admittedly, she felt a little strange about “talking to a computer” but requested she write future exams with the extension.
Companies are creating numerous applications and programs to help students with learning disabilities. All of my students have access to Chromebooks and the Good Spirit School Division has provided Read&Write for every student account. I had students “talk to their computers” many times this year, which normalizes verbal interaction with technology (and hopefully makes students will learning disabilities feel more comfortable doing it). While this extension may be targeted towards students with learning disabilities, I found virtually every student benefited from Read&Write. Many companies, such as Google, Yahoo, and Apple, discovered focusing on developing technology for users with disabilities led to a higher overall product for everyone.
Greg Toppo asserts that people will always resist emerging technologies. The discontent with educational technology is partially due to the lack of training for educators. Truthfully, training teachers to be effective with technology will be a difficult task. Technology is always changing. This is evident by the classic “oh, I regret purchasing this new phone because a way cooler one came out three days later.” As Amy Sing states, “The challenge with this remains . . . that technology evolves and changes quickly, so without constant investment in professional development, there’s virtually no hope in maintaining the knowledge obtained in professional development.” I think it’s essential that professional development, specifically in regards educational technology (but can be applied to everything), be differentiated so teachers can find value in it.
Here is the moment that I like to call “Koskie starts to get real.” Integrating tech is difficult if schools have access to 1-1 devices, pretty reliable Wi-Fi, supportive administration, and teachers with growth mindset (my situation). I recently read Ainsley’s blog describing her experience teaching in Nunavut– a place where people have access to limited technology. My first reaction was guilt: Wow, I have such a unique opportunity to do what I am passionate about and create lessons with the expectation that technology will be there and I am complaining about it being difficult.
I think part of my hardships are because I am a new teacher and I am going through the classic “how the *%&^&*%&^)#*%&#$)^*^*$#)(%*^*%# DO PEOPLE DO THIS JOB?!?!?! Learning new curriculum, classroom management, organization, and time management are difficult enough;–throw in technology and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When we reviewed the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) diagram in class, I realized that I am probably more frustrated with the classic first-year-teacher-what-is-happening scenario than integrating technology.
I am hoping once I gain more content knowledge I will start to overlap and it will be smooth(er) sailing! What do you think you’re missing on the TPACK diagram?
- Koskie Out!