My feelings on technology in the classroom have always been that it is dependent on the teacher and how it is used. Within the walls of a school students can be guided and assigned technology that has been shown to engage students, not to mention the benefits of assistive technology that was mentioned during the debate and our discussion. McKnight, et al, (2016) found in their study that educators could use technology to have “individualized learning” for students while working on the same assignment. Not to mention giving more power to students to build on their ability to find and use more resources and guide their own learning (McKnight, et al, 2016, p.205).
During the pandemic we were forced to do distance learning exclusively through technology. This meant students did not have the face to face support of a teacher to guide them and provide suitable technology and digital resources. While I understand this works for some, I found a majority of my students suffered from the lack of support and increased independence that they were not all ready for. As disagree mentioned the connections online were not as well constructed as those developed within a physical classroom. There was also the issue of limited access. Some of my students were in five children households with one laptop. It was not possible for everyone to access their online classes at the same time. Alhumaid (2019) mentions this and how possession (or lack) of technology enhances the differences between higher and lower socioeconomic students.
The one thing I did find students benefited from was self-pacing. As Emma Cullen (2020) noted, a physical classroom goes at one pace and some students get left behind or become bored. Online learning meant that students could decide when they work and how quickly. Unfortunately for some, this became a huge battle with procrastination.
Returning to my original point, technology can enhance learning, but exclusively relying on it can hinder it. At a time when we are trying to cut back on screen time, over use of digital technology can impede on those efforts (Strom, 2021). I still feel that technology can augment learning; however it is up to the educator to use it effectively, not as a blanket solution. As agree said, we are preparing students for the future, and like it or not the future is technology.
This was a challenging debate to watch as my heart was tugged between both sides. I have seen how effective technology can be at allowing a student who would be separated or ostracized from their peers, be brought into the group through the support of technology. Agree brought this up, mentioning mobility aids, hearing and vision assistance and communication enhancements.
Amundson and Ko (2021) discusses how technology can analyze a students work and point out areas of concern that a teacher might over look. Edsby will highlight concerns when an assignment does not meet a student’s typical results.
I was encouraged with agree’s comments on how the increase in technology seems to be related to the increase in literacy levels as online learning can be accessed by isolated communities. Global education is an interesting if not challenging concept. As it increases (Jenner, 2021), it is important to consider what was mentioned in the discussion that we view much of this through a North American perspective. Who is controlling the technology and how are they using it to influence the students?
During any dialogues like this I always have to remind myself that I come from a place of great privilege, and I may overlook drawbacks of any number of things. I have had access to a computer since grade 8 and as a result did not fall into the divides mentioned by Shala Ghobadi and Zahra Ghobadi (2012). Disagree’s concept of technology actually widening the divide between different socioeconomic statuses was an interesting concept. Lack of access at home can result in comparatively lower results to students who have regular and supported access.
Weeden and Kelley (2021) focus on the lack of digital equality due to rural and isolated communities’ limited or non-existent access to the internet. As Disagree mentioned (and I referenced above) the lack of sufficient devices also can cause a gap between higher and lower socioeconomic status students. This is something I experienced prior to the pandemic.
I worked for two years in a fly in community where the internet was slower than dial-up, as a result we could not use YouTube or any streaming services. When the cell towers went down, communication was further limited. Most students did not have a computer at home, although many had some access to a smart device (with limited connection to the internet). Even at school there were no computers beyond a large teacher desktop. In this situation the gap seemed less prominent because everyone fell within the lower socioeconomic side.
However that did not mean we were completely cut off from technology. A number of classes had smart-boards and files and resources were passed along with a USB. While this was limited it did provide a great deal of resources that would not have been available. Remove technology and we were stuck with two textbooks and whatever we had recently gained from teacher’s college.
This is where I end up conflicted. Technology did provide more resources, but compared to other communities we were greatly lacking. So I’m left with the question, do the benefits of technology outweigh the draw backs? Is it better that we provide access to technology in school when we know our students do not have access at home? As with most things I feel a compromise is in order. Teaching our students how to use technology prepares them for a world they will interact with, however expecting them have access to this technology beyond our classrooms is unfair. It can set up unrealistic expectations. Hopefully being aware of this and showing students how to succeed with and without technology will provide some balance to an increasingly complicated world
*Recently edited as I try and improve my format.