The Great Escape… I mean Great Debate

Much like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (possibly one of the greatest movies of all time), the “agree” side barely escaped with the victory last night.  The two sides shared very convincing arguments that had myself waving back and forth on who to vote for.  In the end I voted for the “agree” side because the debate statement was:

Technology in the classroom enhances learning. Agree or disagree?

In my eighteen years in the education system I full heartily believe that technology does enhance the learning.  Now with that said I must admit that there are many challenges with it but if implemented properly it can and will enhance the students’ learning.  Yes there are many possible barriers, that were very eloquently proposed by the “disagree” side, but if we look past those, technology of almost any type will enhance learning. It would be like trying to argue against the statement “working out enhances your health”.  That is a very true statement, it cannot be argued with strong supportive facts.  Are there barriers to working out, yes; finding the time, having the will power, having the skills to work out properly, and so on.  Even with these things stated , there is no argument that working out does not enhance your health.

Therefore I believe there are many reasons why technology enhances learning:

  1. Engaging the students – if we can utilize different types of technology that will get students to be more engaged in the topic being covered in class than we must.  In http://www.teacherkit.net/engaging-students-through-technology-four-strategies/ the author states “When we’re engaged in something, we do better at it. That’s as true of learning as it is anything else: an engaged student is more likely to learn and succeed than a disengaged one.” In my first few years as a High School History teacher I used many forms of technology to get my students engaged.  I used the VCR machine , the video recorder, and even a fairly new idea called the internet.  The students loved these forms of technology because they were different from the textbook and lectures that they were accustomed to in the past.  So I move ahead 17 years and we have at our disposal many new forms of technology that can also get the students more engaged.  We use iPads (for videoing), Smartboards for interactive activities (such as class surveys), laptops (for easier access to information), and much more.  And with these advancements we can challenge our students to dive deeper into content because they have unique and interesting ways to find answers and new ways to demonstrate their knowledge.  They have at their fingertips new ways to demonstrate their creative and critical thinking.
  2. Opportunity to Collaborate – the ability that some technology has provided students to be able to learn from is endless.  Whether it is obtaining information from the internet ,or collaborating with fellow classmates when not at school, or connecting with someone from across the world – students have so many avenues to learn more and especially learn more from others.  Eric Sheninger states that “social media has given rise to new definitions of community”, and really that is what students need to rely on, the world wide community that technology has opened up for them.  In 4 Strategies to Engage Students Using Technology  the author makes an excellent point, “Today’s students are also social.  They love being part of a community, collaborating, sharing and exchanging ideas.”  And I believe we must give them this opportunity to do so (with restrictions of course).  If we allow students this opportunity to reach out to the world wide community, we open them up to so much more information and new experiences.
  3. Equal Opportunities for Learning – utilizing various forms of technology opens new doors of learning for those with disabilities or those that struggle with certain aspects of learning. In the article Using Assistive Technology in Teaching Children with learning Disabilities in the 21st Century, the authors state excellent points regarding technology helping children with disabilities but they can also be used for every child.  The tools can be used to identify strengths and weakness of students which in the past (without technology) was sometimes near impossible.
  4. Technology in action – please watch this video that I posted earlier in the week on Google Plus that demonstrates technology in action in the classroom.

5.  Barriers – as stated previously in this post and also stated by the “disagree” side in the debate, there are many barriers.  Sam Carlson believes that teachers need to be trained before we even think of introducing technology in the classroom, and I agree.  The pressure needs to be on divisions to implement proper training for teachers if they want students to be knowledgeable on the changing technologies of the day.  But as Brad Kuntz sates; “Including technology in classroom comes with unique challenges…..But as we continue to set the standard for technology’s inclusion in the classroom, more clearly define and clarify its role in our teaching, and train our students to use it wisely, we can modernize our classrooms despite these challenges”.  Therefore, we as an education system must realize that this is the “new” way of education and its not going away.

So debate number one brought forth great questions but I truly believe that technology must be implemented to enhance the learning of our students.

P.S. – Spoiler Alert – Steve McQueen doesn’t escape for very long.

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7 thoughts on “The Great Escape… I mean Great Debate

  1. Great points Tyler. I definitely think some added PD in this area would see a huge benefit in the implementation and planning phases of edtech integration.

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  2. Tyler, I think you did a good job highlighting some of the key enhancements to learning technology can provide. As Luke reaffirms, PD must be a major component of the implementation phase if benefits are to be realized. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thanks Dean – love what your division did with the PD – I wish we would focus more on educating teachers so they can educate the kids. This is especially important with the way the world is heading in terms of technology.

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  3. Pingback: Does Technology Enhance or Hinder Learning? | Justine Stephanson's Blog

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