Given my role as eLearning Coordinator at my school, I have a passion for and firm belief in the application of technology in education. This does, however, rest on a couple of key understandings. Firstly however flashy and exciting, technology is a tool and like any tool, the outcome depends greatly on how it is used.
The statement quoted by Comi et al. (2017) from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aligns with my beliefs
The availability of ICT-related educational devices (such as computers, tablets, software or educational programs) is not enough to improve student achievement, but it is the actual practice that teachers make of these devices – together with teachers’ digital literacy, level of ICT skills and ICT-related beliefs – that makes the difference.
The second understanding is that, again like any tool, you need to learn how to use it. Young people do not speak the digital language until, like preceding generations, they learn how to do so (Smith, Skrbis & Western, 2013). Not too long ago in my personal Blog, I argued that Digital Natives are a myth. The work of Prensky (2001) coined the term "Digital Native" and from it grew several assumptions about the new generation of learners:
Too often I see teachers throwing technology at their students and wondering why a lesson fails. They blame the technology or worse, the children. This approach generates anxiety in learners and lessens teacher trust in classroom technology. At the beginning of this year, I launched a technology training program with some of the youngest 1:1 students at my school. It focused on explicitly teaching then the skills to get the most out of their devices and the native software installed. Teachers of these students reported high rates of success in their classroom compared with previous years in relation to the application of student 1:1 devices.
My final understanding is that a balanced approach is best. New digital technologies are not the perfect solution for every learning experience. Coming from a primary education background has instilled a love of hands on experiences, play based learning and learning by doing. There is immense value in creating with your hands, reading a physical book and writing with pencil and paper. There are times when technology offers experiences or provides access in ways that we have need been able to achieve in the classroom. Learning should be engaging and fun and I love how school principal Adrain Lim speaks about this at the beginning of the video below:
Video URL: https://youtu.be/M_pIK7ghGw4
Having technology in schools doesn't mean that Schools have to let go of other things. Again it comes down to how the teacher leverages it and what they choose to use it for. There doesn't need to be a binary argument of one way or another. With a balanced approached, schools get the best of both worlds. In contrast, schools that are actively working to not incorporate technology are doing their students a disservice in my opinion.
Comi, S. L., Argentin, G., Gui, M., Origo, F., & Pagani, L. (2017). Is it the way they use it? Teachers, ICT and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 56, 24-39.
OECD (2001) The practice and professional development of teachers, in learning to change: ICT in schools. OECD publishing, Paris. URL: https://www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/themes/ict/41289267.pdf
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–2.
Smith, J., Skrbis, Z., & Western, M. (2013). Beneath the ‘Digital Native’ myth Understanding young Australians’ online time use. Journal of Sociology, 49(1), 97-118.
Mishra's discussion around the concept of technocentrism aligns with my previous thoughts on technology being the silver bullet. It ignores content and pedagogy. Yet it seems to be common in education. "Throw some technology at it and that will solve the problem" or "we need to look like we are innovating...quick, get a laptop in here", sometimes seem to be what drives technology implementation. The consideration needs to be much larger and requires to make connections between the application of technology, content and good pedagogy.
Technology is a disruptive force...
In his keynote, Mishra provides the example of school students that are allowed to access the internet in an exam. This changes the nature of the exam questions from the regurgitation of knowledge to its application and perhaps even analysis. While the technology isn't doing the work for these students, it is changing how they go about their work, a reflection on the way technology is changing many aspects of our lives. It could be argued that type of test requires a deeper understanding of the topic. Furthermore, why test what can be Googled?
BUT technology alone is not going to bring about change.
Did the students come to learn or understand the ideas for that exam because of technology? No. This is where teachers bring their unique pedagogical approaches and content knowledge to the table. Purposing technology in education is a creative and innovative act. Many schools have people in technology coaching roles to support this. From my experience in being in such a role myself, predicting the potential use of technology across many subject areas is no easy feat. This is why Mishra, encourages teachers to explore, create and share, building a community of professional learners. One teacher might see how another teacher uses a technology tool and then apply that tool in a completely different way in their own classroom. What is important is that the tool is being thoughtfully applied based on the needs of the students, pedagogical goals of the teacher and context of the classroom.
Video URL: https://youtu.be/4TtBubdpzxE
Phillip Callill, President of the Victorian IT Teachers Association, explained how we are in the pioneering stage of technology in education. We are only starting to learn and teach in a very different way. It is a continuum of increasing capability, informed by successes and failures. To teach with technology well, is about the pedagogy driving the experience. This comes back to teacher training. It is about more than just developing skills. Anthony Funnell summed it up nicely right at the beginning of the podcast in saying:
Technology doesn't educate people. PEOPLE educate people.
At the end of the day, it wont be technology that transforms education. It will be teachers, and how they leverage technology alongside many other considerations to maximise and contemporise learning opportunities for their students. There needs to be an equal amount of scepticism and belief about what technology can achieve. Equally so, the understanding that technology will not have any substantial impact unless it is implemented well and with purpose.
Interestingly, it was while teaching overseas that I got my first taste of classroom technology. My Year 4 classroom in Essex had an interactive whiteboard and the school also had an impressive computer lab. My students attended weekly computer lessons with a specialist teacher, which I also ended up attending alongside them. I remember being amazed by what the children were achieving and wanted to learn how I could leverage these tools in my practice. This time opened my eyes to the potential of technology in education and had a profound impact on my teaching. When I came back to Australia, I entered the independent school system, where I have continued to work until now.
I am happiest when I am doing new things and being creative and I guess that is why I found my home in the EdTech world. Technology has been a constant in my approach for many years now. I find it both interesting and exciting. I love the way it continues to challenge me and reshape my teaching. I also love how it can engage, provide access and help students achieve things they didn't think they were capable of.
My work with technology in the classroom has seen me progress to an ICT Coordinator on the school Primary Campus and then to an eLearning Coordinator in recent years. I have been teaching the Digital Technologies Curriculum in a specialist role over the last two years and been heavily involved in the creation of a maker space and launching integrated STEM units across the Primary Campus. Next year, I step into the role of Head of Digital Learning and Innovation. I will be overseeing technology on both Primary and Secondary campuses of my school. Part of this role will be assisting teachers to better integrate technology into their classrooms.
I began studying my masters in 2018 and hope to complete it at the end of 2019. While I admit to having plenty of practical experience with technology, I wanted a deeper knowledge of the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of technology integration. Looking forward to learning more this session!
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I am Laura Bain and this is my reflective blog for ESC515. This is my 4th subject in my Masters of Education, in which I am specialising in Information and Communication Technologies. Very excited by the coursework for this subject and looking forward to reading what everyone's thoughts are along the way. Thanks for taking the time to visit and reading my entries.