Summary of Learning

Thank-you for the great semester! This course effected my practices in more ways than I anticipated and I am thankful for that. Linked below is my Summary of Learning and Resources for this assignment.

Resources:

Becker, S. (2019). Make to Learn – Can Makerspace Be More Than a Fad in Education?

Molenda, M. (2008). Historical Foundations

Orlowski. J. (2020). The Social Dilemma

Postman, N. (1998) Five Things We Need To Know About Technological Change

Shuh, K. & Barab, S. (2008) Philosophical Perspectives

Srinivasan, H. (2022). Why Every child needs a makerspace

The Atlantic. (2014). Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking

Watters, A. (2020). School Work and Surveillance

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VR vs AR vs R

I really appreciated the way that this week’s presenters explained and gave detail on Augmented and Virtual reality. I had no clue what the difference was and hadn’t really ever thought about either as an educational tool. Watching  MAT10 Probability Trees – VR Lesson with Half-life: Alyx was the first time I started to think about the possibilities of AR or VR in the classroom. I really did enjoy the ability to see where the teacher’s hands were when indicating a specific step of the process of probability trees. This is something I struggled with during our time teaching online during the pandemic, was that I would be talking about a specific part of the content, but students couldn’t tell where I was pointing if I was using a whiteboard app, which led to quite a bit of confusion, and took a long time to fix on my part. I did immediately notice that VR for me as a learner, would not be beneficial. Watching that video was quite hard on the head, and I couldn’t imagine if the rest of my senses were locked in as well. I have not used a VR headset, and do not think I would enjoy it. 

As for future classroom use, I don’t have access to VR or AR through headsets or other equipment like that, but, we do use VR in out units in other ways. In our grade 6 Social Studies, we use Google Earth quite a bit, and students explore street view of other countries. We have also used VR videos, such as a tour of Rome. These virtual reality experiences are engaging and exciting for students, and the closest thing I will get to a field trip to Rome. I understand how this technology can help students “feel a greater sense of presence”  (Makransky et al., 2021, p. 730) connection to the learning, which we are always striving for. I do think there is potential for VR and AR to help students connect their learning and apply it in a variety of ways, but also agree with the results of Makransky et al., (2021), that find that declarative knowledge is better learned from media like texts and videos.

Although this technology is exciting and does offer many great opportunities, I feel that we might be giving up more than we are getting in terms of benefitting education and students. Many of our students spend so much time thinking outside of reality – video games, online worlds in videos – I think that there is a danger in consistently living in an alternate, augmented, or virtual reality. How can we learn to be present, excited, and content with the real world, if we are constantly creating and spending time in a different version of reality. Also touched on this week, law and policies consistently are far behind the technology development, and to expect that there will be a “common vernacular and physical vocabulary of how to interact in virtual spaces that encompasses variable elements of expected behaviors, interactivity, and the heuristics” (Heller, 2020, p. 21). I think there was an incredibly rich conversation after this week’s presentation that shows the individual’s in our class are thinking in critical ways about what technology ‘advancements’ mean for education and our students, as well as society.

Making Space for Makerspaces

I absolutely loved the opportunity that was given this week to look into makerspaces, as I have read from many of my classmates as well. I think there is something to be said about coding and makerspaces when a class of adult learners finds so much enjoyment in this exploration. Educators seem to constantly adapting and searching for new ways to  keep students engaged in learning and coding and makerspaces seem to be an incredible way to both explore the content, practice skills, and demonstrate understanding. I have become incredibly interested in makerspaces and how I can bring this into my position, where I travel the school and see most classes only once a week.

Value of Makerspaces

This week’s presentation and resources provided ample evidence as to the value that coding and makerspaces bring to learning. As I looked more into Makerspaces, I came across a Ted Talk by Harish Srinivasan discussing makerspaces and how traditional schooling moved taught him to be quite, memorize facts, and follow directions, but when faced with the real world, individuals are asked to to come up with creative solutions to problems and not just memorize information, but use the information and understanding and apply it to the work at hand. Trial and error was important in the work space, but something that he felt was a skill that traditional schooling avoided.  Srinivasan (2022) explains that makerspaces allow children to practice trial and error, come up with creative solutions to problems and collaborate with others in the process. Becker (2019) also explains that makerspaces and coding allow students to gain skills  that improve their ability to “create, problem solve, and risk-take.” Having students become their own experts through these makerspaces seems like an exciting way to get students engaged with deeper understandings. Much of the value and benefits of makerspaces in education also align with the high impact practices that we explore for Following Their Voices, an initiative that was developed to help reduce the graduation gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. these practices focus on high expectations and making connections with students, their culture, and the learning that they are doing.

Who Benefits? Who Does Not?

At first, this seems like a brilliant way to get all students engaged, but thinking deeper, there are definitely some students that this might intimidate or not be of interest too. Some of my students need extra support with the confidence to take risks with trial-and-error. For some students, as explained in the presentation, the open nature of the tasks may not be structured enough. We also have to consider accessibility, how can we support students who need extra support or modifications to the task at hand to ensure it is engaging, but structured enough to help students succeed in their exploration.

Obstacles

I currently do not use this in my practice for a few reasons. The first is that I hadn’t looked too far into what a makerspace was and the ways that it fits within the school environment. Now, I am stuck on how to integrate this in my current position. I am at two schools: at one, I teach K-2 Phys.ed and grade 5 ELA; the other, I teach grade 6 ELA, Social Studies, and cover PLCs for 1 hour/week in 6 different rooms/grades from K-8.  Along with getting supplies back and forth, time is a factor, especially for the classes I only see 1 hour/week. I wonder if anyone is in a similar position, has been, or has any tips for how to implement makerspaces into a position such as this.

Even though I don’t feel like I am a “techie”, I don’t think that should stop me from providing it to students. There is a benefit to modelling the trial-and-error method to students, letting them see that making a mistake or error also brings us answers. It shows us what to avoid next time. The more that students fail and then succeed and the more they see adults modelling this resilience, the more confidence they will have in their own risk-taking and self-exploration.

Assessment Technology: Google Forms

This school year, one of the new assessment technologies I have been using is Google Forms.  At the beginning of the year, I used it as a survey to get to know the students a little bit more. This year I have about 100 students I am responsible for reporting on, and another 100 that I see once a week for coverage. Initially, I utilized this program to reduce the paper use and flow, as well as my own disorganization traveling between two schools and various classrooms, but as this year has continued, I have started to use it to help with a variety of assessment needs.

ProsCons
– option for immediate results
– multiple question types
– works well with accessibility technology on chrome
– formative, summative and self-assessment opportunities
– opportunity to track understanding growth
– data is stored within Google Drive
– organized data
-data can be exported directly to Google Sheets
– lower & higher level thinking (Bloom) of Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, and Evaluate can be made evident
– limited opportunity for differentiated assessment
– higher level thinking (create) is not supported by this technology

Most recently, my social studies 6 class is working on a project to demonstrate their understanding of power and authority. For the fisrt stage of their assignment, the proposal, they have worked in groups to get their ideas out and then used Google Forms to indicate their proposed ideas, before meeting with me as a group to discuss and revise as needed. They submit another form with their revised ideas before moving onto the second part of their assignment. This has given me a good opportunity to see where their thinking is a initially, and then how they adapt, adjust, and connect their thinking once they have had further prompting, again, without multiple pieces of paper. Having this record of understanding has been a valuable conversation piece during progress conferences and with students as they take note of their progress. I have also used google forms in my grade 5 ELA class as a self-assessment and reflection tool. Students were asked to reflect upon their own understanding and work on their assignment and throughout the unit. They were also able to provide feedback to me on the delivery methods and assessment methods of the content so that I could adjust going forward.

I have come to love the variety of options for the types of questions you want to ask and variety of answering methods (i.e., short answer, long answer, multiple choice, ranking, multiple options, and linear scales). The variety of choices has made google forms a go-to for simple questions and choices, such as, what would you rather explore this week? Or, more complex questions that allow for measuring “knowledge, skills, and abilities” (Office of Educational Technology), as well as their memorization. This tool has been fairly easy to integrate amongst most students because of the option to use the text reader and talk to text options on students’ chrome books. I am aware of the couple of students that do not benefit from these options, and give the form verbally for them to respond verbally as well. Having others be able to work independently, frees up a bit of time and space for this to happen.

As always, no assessment technology is perfect, and google forms definitely does not benefit all of my students, or the task at hand. Those students who show their understanding better in a hands on way, do not benefit from solely answering questions on Google Forms. Some of my kids this year are incredible at expressing their understanding through art creations and hands-on show. In these cases, google forms is used as no more than a way  to collect a sample of work through document upload, such as a picture of their work, or video of their expression. There is also no way to differentiate questions within the same form, in comparison to those assessment tools that utilize algorithms to decide which questions/problems to present students with. You can differentiate by creating multiple forms and sharing them with specific students, but there is no way (that I currently know of) to have questions adjust for success.

I would be interested to here how others utilize Google Forms in their room, or, if they have found a similar technology that they prefer for assessment in this manner?

I would also like to mention a recent new favorite formative assessment tool, which is Blooket. For my lower middle/higher elementary classes, I have loved Blooket this past month to gather formative data on student understanding of content. Blooket is very similar to Kahoot, but instead of playing like a trivia game, students answer questions and use the points/rewards from those questions to play games against their classmates. You can collect data from the games to get a general look at student understanding of concepts, such as multiplication, hygiene practices, or habitats. I believe this website is much better as a formative assessment tool, because sometimes students will just guess as fast as they can, hoping to get points to win the games, so it doesn’t give a fully accurate picture of their understanding.  Also, this game does require reading and does not work very well with text reader technology so accessibility is a consideration in your classroom if wanting to use this tool. I am still playing around with it, but it has become a very exciting “game-based learning” (edutopia) tool.

The Social Web is not completely awful…

The Social Dilemma (2020) is an incredible watch, but also one that should come with a warning: DO NOT WATCH BEFORE BED. The first piece that really shook me was the idea that humans are not made to know what thousands of people think of us. This idea struck me because it is a real area of concern when it comes to self-esteem and identity of our kiddos. They are exposed to social media celebrities who appear to live picture perfect lives, and display what the perfect body, image, behavior, attitude should be. It is impossible to match up with this image, and not only do our kiddos strive to this image, they continuously compare and criticize themselves against it. My absolute favorite (and the most provoking) quote from this documentary was:

“It is not about the technology being the existential threat, it’s the technology’s ability to bring out the worst in society, and the worst in society being the existential threat” (Harris, The Social Dilemma, 2020)

When it comes to the internet, it did not just come out of nowhere. The internet was created and continues to be modified by people. Who the internet serves and who it ignores or harms is not a mistake. That trade of privacy for more information that Yarmosh (2021) states is not an accident. This trade is by design. As explained, the algorithms that guide our viewing, shopping, engagement with the internet is not something that has simply emerged from a device. Someone, somewhere has designed that particular algorithm. An incredible read that was provided for students in a Digital Literacy course last semester is: Searching for Black Girls. This particular read is disturbing, but really opened my eyes to the power that algorithms play in racism, and the power that racism plays in algorithms. The Social Web is not completely awful, but with this documentary, it seems so.

The biggest benefit I see with the evolution of the social web, is the networking that was made possible and accessible for more than in Web 1.0. Naik & Shivalingaiah (2009) explain how far reaching the social web is (p.6) and I agree. Here in Canada, I can go on the internet and learn about something that happened in Australia moments after it has happened. I can also reach out to people across the world to learn about things that I do not have the ability to experience for myself. Students can explore parts of the world and connect with other students across the world instantly. This is not to say that learning about it on the internet is better than first hand experiences, but the ability to get a glimpse almost instantly is pretty incredible. I also consider Pensky’s (2009) argument that “new technologies … make far more cognitive demands on use than did past forms, thus increasing our capabilities in a wide variety of cognitive tasks.” (p.6) when thinking about the increase in digital technologies that students’ have been exposed to compared to myself. The incredible amount of information that is coming in while playing a multiplayer strategy video game over the internet is extremely overwhelming for me, but many of my students do it, seemingly with ease.

I am coming to change some of my beliefs about technology in the classroom. I still think that it is invaluable, but I believe that it needs to meaningful as well. Technology for the sake of technology will not necessarily benefit learning. I have started taking a closer look at why I use certain technologies and if it is truly to enhance learning, or is it just for the sake of using it. I think it is important for education and educators to “critique their own beliefs and assumptions about technology” (p.35) and adjusting accordingly. Webster also explains that it is important to understand that we cannot avoid change in technology, and the focus should be on preparing students with the skills needed to critically engage with changing technology.

Woah, We’re Halfway There

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

^ A Little Vine throwback anyone?

Shifts So Far:

So far this semester there have been a lot of shifts in my understanding of and philosophies of teaching and technology. The biggest shift and consideration so far has been the question sparked by Neil Postman: What and who are we leaving behind with this technology? Starting with the consideration of the learning theories that affect my practices, I related most with relativism, that we all have different lived experiences and learning has various meanings to each person. Even though I strongly aligned with his theory, I didn’t necessarily consider it when integrating certain technologies into the classroom. I was just hopeful that more digital technology or new manipulatives would excite students because it was new. I wasn’t integrating technology in a thoughtful way, more in a desperate for engagement way. Vetting the resources, as shared in our presentation this week, was not necessarily done with each new inclusion and this has caused a fair share of lesson and learning fails. In the past years, I tended to use a lot of videos in my instruction because I assumed that it was more interesting and engaging than learning through a textbook. I realized this year, that I am leaving out a critical opportunity for students to practice literacy skills such as making connections or inferences by completely eliminating their textbooks. I also switched my students to digital writing journals at the beginning of this year. Most students were quite happy with this, but there were a few who have asked to use a regular notebook because they prefer pencil to paper. This was something I hadn’t anticipated, I thought all students would be happy to use digital technology any time. I have had to check a lot of my assumptions about engagement, understanding of, and use of digital ed tech this year.

Relevant Tools:

I think the most relevant tool for any teacher, is going to be different from one to another. It is going to be whatever you have chosen that fits the varying abilities, needs, and interests of their students. Personally, Google Workplace has been amazing this year for staying organized. Moving between two schools, various classes and grades, carrying duo tangs, binders, projects, and notebooks from one school to another and to the house office sounds like an absolute nightmare. Having one space for students to submit their work, even if it is done in a physical form and uploaded as an image, is a godsend for my personal organization and the organization of class routines and organization.

Google Classroom has been a new tool I have used this year and it has changed the game when it comes to planning for class content, utilizing small group time, and planning for a sub. Students can all go to one space where the plan and expectations for the class are listed, and if they were absent, those from previous classes are right below. This has cut down quite a bit on interruptions during small group literacy instruction and, for some, has reduced the excuse of not knowing what they are doing. All class resources, including Slides, videos, readings, and external resources are listed and linked for their use. I do realize that I put a lot of expectation on accountability and motivation in these students, and this is not something that each student is proficient in just yet, so there will always be modifications needed. But is Tyler Dewitt is right and learning is moving to a more modular, tailored model, students need to build the skills to seek out these resources and find the ones that best suit their learning.

Google Slides and Forms have also been an excellent way for students to collaborate, co-construct, and reflect. Our classroom expectations were co- constructed using Slides (much like Jamboard), student assignment reflections and self-assessments are done using Forms, and their collaborative assignments can also be done on Slides. For those who prefer paper, physical copies, assessment through artistic expressions, ect., are provided that opportunity as well, and then asked to upload an image/video using their google Slides to be shared with me as a record of learning, and to reduce the number of things I am carrying back and forth. I know that I am using this tech heavily influenced by my own convenience, but I do think that the record of learning that it provides students and their caregivers, in real time, is extremely beneficial for their learning and pride in their work.

If We Moved to Online Learning Tomorrow:

I can’t imagine teaching my K-2 Phys.Ed classes online. Not only considering the access students have to tech at home, their access to space, equipment and others is limited as well. Physical Education has a few outcomes on personal physical abilities, but many of these outcomes as well as the rest involve needing to share space, equipment, and strategy with others. We can work on strength and balance, but coordination, manipulation, and safety all require group or partner work.

I would be extremely grateful that I spent time constructing and practicing our online toolbox with the kiddos this year, but only 2 of my 10 classes will have this practice and understanding. So for those 8 periods in the week, I would feel confident that we could make something work, but the others, would have me concerned. I think, with the kiddos I have right now, all of their accessibility needs would be met with the accessibility supports that are within these programs that we are using, including the screen reader and the voice typing. I don’t know how I would best support my kiddos with other neurodivergent needs not being able to be with them physically. I think this needs to be an area of more research and consideration for me, as I don’t feel confident in this at all. For those who are teaching in an online environment, how do you support students with neurodivergence?

Right Now or Never

As I sit here, four chrome tabs open, OneNote open with this week’s notes, and my iPad to the side playing the video for this week’s prompt, I feel incredibly called out. I remember when trying to decide on which device I wanted to buy to for work and university, I had to be sure that I would be able to multi-task, with various programs open at once. This was the only way I would consider changing from a Laptop to a tablet. I use this feature more often than not. This video prompted me to wonder: how many of us are able to watch a video without having your phone on? Or reading? Or colouring? Doing a puzzle? Eating? Multitasking has entered every area of our lives, even in our moments of ‘relaxation’. Is this a contributor to the burn-out that so many professionals encounter. We are rarely truly relaxed, in the moment, because we have the need to be constantly working on something. I struggle to relax on a Saturday and watch a movie  with my family without thinking about the 10 things I could also be doing at the same time.

Is this why we strive for so much in our presentation and instruction? I know that I continuously add videos, images, text, social media connections, and anything I can to engage students and keep their attention. I feels as though we have arrived at a point where this has to be the case. As Miller et al., (2005) explained, it is the show that that teacher is able to put on with their presentation for “sustained focus maintained throughout the lesson” (p.108). Throwing in “text, images, videos and maps” as well as integrating “social media … dynamic content from RSS feeds or search alerts” may “reinforce course content” but, does it provide an opportunity to really sit with content or be in the present without rushing to the next media or task at hand (Sietz, et al., 2014, p. 2). Even on our blogs, we embed videos, social media feeds, links to other recommended readings, are we actively learning, or is it passive in that we are just moving through what is provided for us.  It feels exhausting when taking a look from the outside, but when we are within it, designing content and planning instruction it feels like what we need in order to allow for active learning. Is the internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? Yes and yes. And also I don’t know.

We are living in a ‘right now’ world, where everyone can be reached right now, schedules can be coordinated right now, information can be found right now. Where is that time to disconnect? Is there a need to disconnect. This week I attended a presentation by Dr. Jodi Carrington, a clinical psychologist, and she explained that we look at each other 75% less than our parents and grandparents did. 75% less. We are the most disconnected we have ever been, even though we have technology that connects us to people around the world at the push of a button. The need face-to-face connection, the one that is biologically engrained in us, is not met. It is met 75% less than our parents and grandparents.

This is being seen as a factor in the mental health crisis that our world is in. I wonder if this constant intrinsic and external pressures for multitasking are a cause as well?

I went on a bit of a tangent this week, much like my chrome tabs tend to be, but I was inspired by business that is the world. Do I take the time to be truly present with my loved ones? With the space and nature around me? With myself?

At the risk of hypocrisy, I am embedding one of my personal favorite quick mindfulness check-ins from Youtube, to provide myself, and perhaps another, with the chance to close the rest of your tabs, and be present with your mind and body, for just a few minutes.

Wait a minute Mr. Postman?

I believe Postman is referring to how Sesame Street had upped the learning game, moving away from traditional teaching to a model of learning that requires a variety of instructional methods and visual and audible stimulus to promote learning. The traditional model has students sitting, listening to the teacher, watching what they do and then doing it themselves, practice and repeat. In contrast, Sesame Street employs music and songs, interesting characters, and engaging images to chapter the attention of the students. Watching an episode, I noticed that much of the learning seemed to have strong connections with what would be important for the youth watching. This real connection to the learning also contrasts with traditional teaching styles. Digital technology is the reality for students in our communities right now, and as Scott Widman explained, our responsibility now is to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge to handle the challenges that technology brings. Integrating technology, such as smartphones, provides us with the opportunity to guide students in gaining knowledge and understanding – including critical thinking skills – that will help them address the challenges they encounter as technology continues to change and expand.

Thinking about AV technology and devices, I wonder about those with sensory  sensitivities and how this might affect their learning. With a variety of screens around them, including peer’s screens and projectors. These sensory overloads can impact students’ ability to pay attention  and understand and comprehend what they are saying. How many of our students are unable to regulate with the various screens, bright colours, screen lights, ect., that are involved when implementing various apps and digital media. Although digital technology is an “environment” (Widman) that we are living in, as students move into the employment world, there is no guarantee that they will be afforded the training opportunities that are adapted to them. I think there is a balance that needs to occur, in order to ensure students have a well-rounded set of skills.

Learning should be tailored to the students for sure. We need AV to “arouse the interest of learners and help teachers in explaining the concepts easily and effectively.” (Sunder, 2018, p. 1510) BUT, I will say that from my time as a student to now, even AV is becoming harder to engage students with, and keep them on task. I use Audio-Visual for much of my teaching, and it is harder to keep their attention with this at times (i.e., listening to a read aloud on Youtube used to hold their attention, but now, I think possibly due to online learning, I am able to hold their attention easier reading it myself.) I believe our we need to be intentional with how we are implementing technologies, and not just using them for the sake of saying we are using them. Even though Sesame Street has created this vision of engaged learning, does that mean we have to completely fall in line? Should we completely tailor learning to each student, or do we have a responsibility to also prepare them with skills that are outside of their current learning style and preferences?

Relativism & Connectivism for Understanding

I hadn’t considered that my teaching values and classroom practices could be connected with theories, but obviously the beliefs and values of these theories have been absorbed through my own interactions and experiences with education. First, I would say that the theory of relativism influences how I interact, not only with my students but with others in general. I understand and acknowledge that we all move through this world with various experiences and I believe that how one interprets these interactions shapes their own individual meaning. The construction of meaning and understanding of experiences is “highly dependent on the individual building [these] constructions” (Shuh & Barab, 2013, p. 72) In this way, ensuring that students have a variety of ways to learn and experience knowledge is crucial in my planning. Also, my interactions with students is based on the awareness that all of my students are coming in with their own histories and baggage and my interactions and classroom environment need to be  sensitive to that.

The second theory that aligns with my philosophy of teaching and classroom practices is the theory of connectivism. Connectivism and Relativism align in the value that knowledge and learning is dependent on the individual and individualistic qualities. As Ertmer & Newby (2013) share, we need to develop adaptability and resiliency within our students so they are able to take their knowledge and apply it to each of their individual experiences, even when the experience seems to be challenging. I think that my understanding of what knowledge really is has changed over the past few years of experience. My students don’t need to know the answer to every single addition fact, but they do need to know how to use their tools, whether mental or digital, to figure it out when they need too. I view connectivism as an educational theory to mean that we are not teaching a whole classroom full of mechanics, so there is no way for us to teach students everything they need to know for their future endeavors. The goal of education in my room, is to have students become confident in their ability to find and utilize the tools they have at their disposal.

Both of these theories beg education to be multi-modal. Benjes-Small (2014) examined the follies of following in learning theories without vetting and asking the right questions. Thinking back to last week, this seems to be a common theme, and one that I know I need more practice in. Creating the habit of questioning the theories and philosophies that are entering our classroom is important. At the end of the day, we are here for the best for the kids and the future. To make learning fit each kid, we need to move away from “relying too heavily on the idea of mode” (Benjes-Small, 2014) and make knowledge and understanding make sense for the “context and content” of our class. Allowing for meaning-making in using different experiences, and not relying on one true way, allows for all of our students to find a path into understanding.

https://www.prodigygame.com/main-en/prodigy-math/

One thing that stood out to me this week, was Skinner’s Teaching Machine (Solanki, 2013). At first, I thought this is some sort of gross psychological experiment, but then I thought about programs that I have used for my early finishers. In some classes, students have been asked to go to Epic!, Raz-Kids, or Prodigy when they have finished their work, often because those who are having a harder time understanding are benefitting from smaller group instruction. These websites all use instant feedback and rewards for students, and I began to wonder if we had anything like this when I was in elementary school (2001-2014). After our conversation about conditioning last week, I have become very aware of the ways in which I am using these conditioning techniques in my practices. In many ways I feel dirty using psychological manipulation on children. Even the wait and watch technique, I have become uncomfortable with, knowing that this is working on a shame-based approach to having students comply. I wonder if anyone would be willing to share some of the ways that they have improve the classroom environment, without shame-based approached, such as waiting and watching, or the behavior chart?

🙂

Did anyone vet this? Taking EdTech at it’s face value

My understanding of Educational Technology is any medium that shapes how and what we learn. Educational Technology includes technology ranging from the words that we use to the machines we choose to instruct, assess, and support experiences in the classroom. Educational technology seems to fit more as a soft technology. Although many of our technologies have a very specific purpose (i.e., the projector displaying visuals on a screen) the reach that these experiences have for students goes far beyond just viewing an image or writing a word down. These technologies can help, or hinder, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of learning and students’ personally. Educational technology is usually celebrated as “revolutionizing education” (Michael Molenda, 2007), but as Neil Postman (1998) shares: for every technological advance that is made, something is taken away. Often, educational technology changes are seen to be positive and pushed in such a way, but we often focus too much on what the technology can do physically and ignore asking questions about who the technology will support and who will be left out, as well as what will we lose when this technology is integrated.

My own understanding of Educational Technology, very recently, only included the machines that were used to facilitate learning. Technology has been that “mythic” being as Postman (1998) explains. Each time a new technology is introduced, I see it for all of the cool, helpful things that it isable to do for me or my students and I run with it. I have had this value that technological advances are a god given right. Postman’s article has made me very aware of this quality I have given technology. I thought about certain rights that people believe in, such as guns. At one point, weapon technology was advanced to these machines that can easily take the life of an animal or person from long distances with the pull of a trigger, and somewhere along the line, people have come to believe that they have a right to own this technology. I am not arguing for either side (that is for another post/another blog) but I will argue that these technological advances, such as weaponry, or educational technology, such as bell times or behavior charts, come into existence and then take off, without individual user consideration for what is being made possible – the good AND the bad.

The godliness of technology also meant that technological advances were going to benefit and work for all of my students. I took the technology at its face value and looked for as many ways to implement it as possible. Watters (2020) article on School Work and Surveillance opened my considerations up to ask more questions about the technologies that are being used – who it is working for, why, and what is the intention of this technology. Such as surveillance, we are told that surveillance methods – cameras, metal detectors, grades and data, ect. – are for safety and the best of our students, but as Watters has pointed out, these methods are there to ensure that all pupils adhere to the core values of “control, compulsion, [and] efficiency” (Watters, 2020).

At this point in my experience and understandings within the course, I agree with Robert Kozma’s opinion that:

“certain medias’ possess particular characteristics that make them both more and less suitable for the accomplishment of certain kinds of learning tasks.” (2007)

There are certain types of technology that work to support students, but it is not one size fits all and questions need to be asked:

  • What is the intended use/support that this technology is created for?
  • Who is benefitting from this technology?
  • Who is not?
  • What is being made possible? Impossible?
  • What are we losing with this technology? Who?
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I searched for an image of Pexels, and all I typed in was advance. The above image is one that came up, rather close to the top of the results. I think it is very interesting that this is considered advancement, but when I look at it, I am reminded of the things that instant messaging and handheld devices have taken from us:

  • social skills and cues
  • not being reachable or connected all the time
  • freedom of not answering someone right away
  • talking and hearing each other’s voices when sharing

We have gained a lot with this technology, but the image above seems to evoke a desire of disconnect within me.

I look forward to reading EC&I833’s own considerations for a definition of Educational Technology, as well as the way your own perspectives have been formed, and where they are at now.

🙂