Amazing debates on Tuesday once again!
After reading everyone’s blogs I connected on numerous levels. As educators we experience so many commonalities, but at the same time, each individual has quite a different focus or take away from the topics of our debates. That is what keeps me reading these blogs (aside from the fact that reading blogs is a requirement). I love learning about a different way of looking at a topic and hearing a perspective that would not have occurred to me before.
Photo Credit: Link
Stephanie explained it very well,“I’m a strong supporter of technology. It makes sense to me. It helps me learn. I’ve seen it work for students, but how often do we stop and think about big picture ideas like this? Reflection is a key piece of learning how to teach more effectively.”
I feel the same way! When I think about technology, I know of so many valuable learning sights, I use quite a few of them and I always ask myself, “Should I be trying to use more? Like Kelsie and Kyle, I agree that technology is a tool. Kelsie explained it so succinctly,
“Technology is a tool. It does not solve problems by itself. It’s like expecting a hammer to build a house by itself and being dumbfounded when it does not. A hammer is only part of what is required to build a house. Many more tools are needed in order for the house to stand, being structurally sound, and safe.”
It supports what our students are learning but it cannot replace one-on one interactions, conversations, hands on experiences, discussions and reflection, writing with a pencil, drawing, colouring, etc. Imagine how different ECI 830 would look had we not looked at both sides in a debate format. Some of my favourite moments of teaching are those teachable moments when great discussions are happening and the kids have more and more questions on their mind. It is their opportunity to have a voice and be heard. Even those quiet ones are sometimes brave enough to speak up for even a short moment of time.
The topic of digital divide came up in our debate discussions. I have always felt that the number of laptops and iPads are very inconsistent throughout the Regina Public School Board. Years ago, one of the schools in Regina was given a grant where class sets of iPads were given to a number of classrooms (unsure of how many). As a result, in this particular classroom everyday learning looked very different. Each student had their own iPad to use throughout the day at the discretion of the teacher’s plans. Whereas, in my school, there are 5 computer carts and approximately 2 iPads and 1 Chrome book per classroom. What does it look like at your school?
As so many of us in ECI 830 have stated, technology has been really effective in supporting students with learning disabilities, the classroom as a whole, it allows students to connect with many classroom communities around the globe, people in rural communities, and the list goes on. I am continuously astounded by new developments in technology everyday.
Just as our society is divided by socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., it is also divided by the amount of technology available in our schools, remote communities, and in communities with lower socioeconomic status. I found a really great video that provides a REAL glimpse at the day to day struggles for a family who cannot afford internet.
Even though libraries are available for students and families, there are still limitations like time constraints, access to libraries, and availability of computers at the library once you get there.
In the next video, a program initiative is being introduced to help increase the graduation rates for students in one of the poorest districts in Los Angeles. A place called Home provides services to underprivileged students everyday.
There are so many amazing things happening for students who do not have the same opportunities, but clearly there is more work to be done.
The other area where there is still a divide is within our own teaching staff. I feel that I have learned so much about teaching with technology and yet I still work on improving my practices everyday. When it comes down to it, few teachers have education in technology and most staff members learn as they go. Lack of PD and support with technology in day to day teaching is not provided, therefore many teachers feel overwhelmed and wonder where they can find the time to figure it out. Often times, the lack of incentive for teachers to spend the time to teach themselves also becomes a factor in their progress.
In the article, Training Teachers to Integrate Technology suggests that bringing technology tools into the classroom is not an effective way to integrate technology.
“The article states, “Bringing technology tools into the classroom doesn’t necessarily mean that teachers are leveraging them to develop students’ 21st century skills. Meaningful change, experts insist, comes from long-term professional development (PD) that models the type of learning that schools expect of their students.”
It is important that training occurs in a comfortable and inviting way to ensure that teachers feel supported rather than inept, unintelligent, or insecure. It is not easy for every teacher to support their instruction with technology when they have very little experience with it personally and/or professionally. Many teachers feel comfortable with keeping things the same and adding more work onto their plate (so to speak) is overwhelming and daunting.
Photo Credit: Jans Wilberg
Having enough time, energy and confidence makes it difficult to “add” more work onto an already full plate. Once teachers are given support, they can observe the positive changes in their student’s learning and see that it is possible. I would love to see a support program like this at my school!
Ultimately, I believe that technology is not equitable for everybody. Clearly, it is not fair to say that it is, without digging into the struggles that still exist today. As my research indicates, the digital divide is still prevalent and more work is needed to close the gap.