From the time it first gained popularity and recognition, technology has snowballed into the massive piece of society it stands as today. Even children as young as elementary school are carrying powerful computers in their pockets at most times. They have learned to rely on technology in ways that past generations have struggled to grasp. Without the technology, certain individuals even feel helpless and like a piece is missing. That being said, there needs to be a balance in order to have a meaningful technology interaction in the lives of students.
Why is it important? Students are constantly learning and growing in their knowledge base. By implementing technology in education, students are given the chance to take an active role in their learning. Each student learns differently and technology gives students the chance to explore what works best for them. According to a study completed by Kim, Kim, Lee, Spector, and DeMeester (2012), the beliefs about effective teaching and technology were positively correlated among teachers. They also found the teachers more closely correlated with these results had a higher focus on student-centered learning and needs. Through problem-based inquiry projects, students are able to find solutions for real-world problems through their own methods. Students learn what information is reliable and valid while pushing aside false information. While there is room to explore and grow for the students, there is also the responsibility of the teacher to help guide students in what is right or wrong in the world of internet research. Students do not begin by knowing Wikipedia or some random article are not always reliable sources. They need to be taught the difference between good and bad information.
Additionally, technology gives students the opportunity to do the research they need and then learn to analyze the data and find outcomes. As Van Doren (2013) said in his blog post on technology in the classroom, it is our role to guide students to use technology as a tool, not just as a way to play games and talk to friends. I found it incredible that Michelle Zimmerman implemented virtual reality glasses in her classroom in order to teach her students anatomy with augmented reality (Zimmerman, 2017). It really seemed to really bring to life the learning for her students. You could see the joy on their faces in her pictures. There are step by step guides for just about anything a student can think of online. Van Doren also brought up the idea that students learn from technology and then spark the interest of their peers as well. If they need to learn how to analyze the data, they can. They also have the abilities to compare their outcomes to those of others to see if they are reliable and valid. When students once needed a pencil and a lot of paper to calculate statistical data, they now only need to input numbers and run the correct tests through online programs. A whole world of understanding is blossoming in these young students’ eyes.
Not only does technology allow for this exploration, but also teaches responsibility and consequences of actions. If good citizenship in the online world is taught young, students learn respect and ethics on another level. They need to be taught what putting sensitive information on the internet can do and how it is permanent. There is also a need for teaching the effects of cyber-bulling. Just because it is easier than a face-to-face interaction does not mean it does not hurt any less to the victim. A teacher can be the positive guide a student needs to learn consequences and potential outcomes of bad digital citizenship. According to the TED talk by Azul Terronez (2017), teachers should not just be there to teach but to listen to. They need to realize what their students need and be that support whether that is in helping them explore the world and broaden their horizons with technology or even just seeing past a hard exterior to what might be happening outside the walls of the classroom.
Reflecting on what I’ve learned, I’ve found how important it is to differentiate instruction and create a more wholly diverse environment for my future students to learn in. Each student is going to have different needs and the use of technology can help me reach each and every one. There are so many modifications alone, that students with different needs can still be a part of the class and feel belonging. Without a safe and welcoming environment to learn in, Maslow’s needs are not met and a student cannot learn. We as teachers often provide things such as snacks and listening ears but seem to lack an understanding of just how different our students’ lives can be.
Additionally, using technology in ways such as blogging can allow for meaningful family interactions and a constant ability for parents to share in the joy of our classroom. In our ever changing world, new technology seems to come out daily. By giving our students a chance to test the waters at a younger age we are giving them the building blocks to be successful in a more and more technology based future. There is definitely a time and place for technology use (no cell phones in class!), but weaving it into our daily teaching helps to build an understanding of just how amazing technology can be in our grown up lives.
Fuller, M.T., Ray, K., Bass, B., Zanetis, J., Brantley, G., Conzemuis, L.,… Swift, K. (2017). ISTE standards for students. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/forstudents-2016
Kim, C, Kim, M., Lee, C., Spector, M., & DeMeester, K. (2012). Teacher beliefs and technologyintegration. Teaching and Teacher Education, 29, 76-87.http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.library.wwu.edu/10.1016/j.tate.2012.08.005
Terronez, A. (2017, February 2). What makes a good teacher great? TED X Santo Domingo. Podcast retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrU6YJle6Q4&t=701s
Van Doren, M. (2013). Notes from TC: Cornelius minor and technology in writing workshop. Retrieved from https://ateachinglifedotcom.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/notes-from-tc-cornelius-minor-and-technology-in-writing-workshop/
Zimmerman, M. (2017, March 28). A first experience in #science with #AR (#AugmentedReality). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/mrzphd