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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

To Use or Not to Use: Finding the Balance in Technology

To Use or Not to Use: Finding the Balance in Technology

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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The use of technology as a teaching pedagogy has created an unlimited source of instructional activities and strategies to enhance student learning and higher academic achievement. We are living in the age of information highways that are accessible at the click of a button. This has created a wealth of options for teaching content knowledge. I am amazed at the response by students when technology is used. They are more focused and attentive to the subject matter even if it does not particularly interest them.

The boon in technology has infused several scenarios that can be considered problematic and counter-productive to student learning. The use of technology is great until it breaks down. I teach in a developing country where power outages are frequent. The probability of getting "zapped" in the middle of a presentation is pretty high even though we have generators and backup power for our computers. I have learned through the years that when using technology, always have a backup in case it fails. I have also noticed that excessive use of technology can impede social interaction between students. They become mesmerized by the endless source of entertainment available to them on an inanimate object. Social skills are hindered when technology is over-used. I make sure to have a cooperative learning activity following the use of technology. This ensures that students work together using their minds to solve problems instead of having a computer figure it for them.

In the long run, technology serves as an important tool for students and teachers to enhance the learning experience for both parties. Finding the right balance of when to use this technology and when not to can make a huge difference in learning outcomes. It can promote community in the classroom or tear it down. It can be the difference critical thinking and robotic mimicking. It is my hope that we as teachers use technology wisely and prudently in our teaching pedagogy.

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Joseph's picture
Joseph
Primary School Educator in the Dominican Republic

Thank you Dan for your input. What strategies do you use in teaching technology to your students? Do you work collaboratively with other teachers when they have class projects that involve technology? I find that many of my students lack the fundamentals when it comes to using educational technology. Do you agree?

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Joseph,
A big part of my job is to make sure the students have those fundamental in place. I do also spend a lot of time working collaboratively with teachers to plan out and implement projects that use technology. You can see some of my work at http://pineglen.info

Joseph's picture
Joseph
Primary School Educator in the Dominican Republic

Thanks, Dan
I will take a look at it.

K8ty's picture
K8ty
Primary teacher currently working internationally in Malaysia

Hello,

I work in a school where every child K-3 and above has their own iPad. While this is wonderful, it is also very scary for a teacher who, up until working in this school, did not have her own laptop and still does not have Internet at home! I realise that I sound like I live under a rock!

As you stated, Joseph, the students are so motivated when technology is used and having information literally at your fingertips is great, especially for describing new vocabulary for English Language Learners.

As I am still learning (which the students love!), my ideas may seem archaic so I do apologise. However, I really like using Google Docs with students because, once a document is set up (and after a couple of tries the students can do it themselves), small groups can collaborate on one piece of work together. The beauty of it is, as the teacher, you can also see who is participating or taking over or sitting passively allowing you to intervene where needed.

Another benefit of Google Docs is using the presentations (like PowerPoint) because I can set up resources by putting web links behind images or text so I have control over the students' research. Many Grade 3 students still need a lot of support deciding what questions to ask a search engine so I find this helps.

We also have books and good old fashioned face to face conversations for when the technology all goes pear-shaped :0)

Hope this helps,

Katy

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

K8ty, if your students are using Google docs to collaborate, then you're rockin', not living under a rock. Seriously, it sounds like you're putting the technology in your classroom to good use.

On the subject of online research, there was an interesting discussion here on Edutopia about sources for young children which you might find interesting. It's located at: http://www.edutopia.org/groups/technology-tools/715081

K8ty's picture
K8ty
Primary teacher currently working internationally in Malaysia

Thank you Samer,
I've had a quick look at the discussion so will try out some of the suggestions in class. I'm new to blogging for professional development so all tips gratefully received!
Have a great weekend :0)

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

You're welcome, K8ty. There are a ton of great resources here and elsewhere online. If you ever need anything, just ask. We'll do our best to point you in the right direction. :-)

jcpinthedr's picture
jcpinthedr
Elementary Educator

Thanks for your honest response, Katy. I share your view that technology can be overwhelming at times for those that do not "live" on computers. Of course, being an educator does carry the responsibility of keeping up with the latest trends and innovations in our field. I am ecstatic that you have chosen to embrace the future with open arms and use it for the benefit of the students. That's why we do what we do.

jcpinthedr's picture
jcpinthedr
Elementary Educator

Thanks for jumping in, Samir. It's nice to have support groups available to help us upgrade our pedagogy to the latest and greatest technology out there.

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