Lately there have been some studies and articles published that seemed to state that using technology in the classroom is not only not helpful to learning but actually detrimental. Recently I read two blog posts on the topic that challenged this notion. One of them by George Couros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5673#comment-162685. I quote from the article below:
If we take the word literacy as simply as meaning to “read and write”, then technology might take away from that (although David Crystal would argue that as well). But if we look at something like literacy as ever-evolving, the ability to write this blog, embed tweets, link articles (after finding them easily through my own curation techniques) is also part of literacy. Do things like coding and design promote numeracy? And with the largest library in the world in our pockets, critical thinking is needed more now than ever to be able to “create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts“, as discussed by the National Council of Teachers of English. Literacy, numeracy, and critical thinking are something that all schools are focusing on, but what these things look like change over time, and saying that technology distracts us from learning them is kind of a narrow view.
There have certainly been several blogs and tweets on this subject lately. I think that much of it (as George and others imply) is based on a misunderstanding about what effective teaching and learning is. As administrators many of us are championing Inquiry Based Learning and Knowledge Building of all types. The most effective classrooms are responsive to student interests, involve collaborative learning, and the building of knowledge, based on students working with each other, various staff and any other “experts” they can get their (real or virtual) hands on. The intentional use of technological tools can be an integral part of this learning. The experts, political pundits and journalists who agonize over the potential use and usefulness of technology tools don’t realize that they are being left behind. Many of our youth aren’t even aware of the controversy and when they are it, is irrelevant to most of them. They are not waiting for approval or permission. They are already using social media every day and engage in thousands of interactions through their “friends, followers and favourites.” As educators our role should be to support them, learn from them, and help them to use these collaborative tools to further their own learning. We need to decide if we want to help drive the bus, ride the bus, or just wave as it drives away.