What is the Place of Technology in the Classroom?

After listening to Dr Alec Couros lecture on “Educating the Selfie Generation” and watching Michael Wesch’s “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube”, I could not help but try and think of a time before we had a computer in our house. This task was nearly impossible for me as we had two box-style televisions and a computer, similar to the one in the image below, before I was born. It was around the age of five that my parents bought a computer that resembles a modern desk top computer and while my siblings and I did not get MP3’s until we were in grade eight (though I do remember listening to a Walkman around the age of seven) and cell phones until grades ten or eleven, it seems like I have been surrounded by technology since I was born.

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Photo Credit: jamesriker Flickr via Compfight cc

 

 

 

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Photo Credit: JHikka Flickr via Compfight cc

 

 

 

Funny that I had that exact Walkman for my CD’s and then I eventually “upgraded” to the Walkman MP3, oh how times have changed!

So I got to thinking, if I can barely remember a time in my life before “modern” technology, it is very likely that life with this technology is all that my students will know. What does this mean for my future classroom? While I am not anti-technology, I do not want technology running my classroom. I believe there is a time and a place for technology in the classroom. My parents like to make the joke that when they were young writing research papers was much more difficult because they had to actually look through a book to find their research, it was never a click away. It is important to see the massive role technology has in the lives of everyone, especially students, but also to not lose sight of past practices (I do want to teach history afterall!).

From my own work with children at my various jobs, I have seen young children have technology withdrawals (this is one of the main reasons why I am reluctant to have a classroom that is technology driven). It is a scary thought that we, as adults, are so tuned into technology that we are helping to raise a generation addicted to it at such a young age. While I am also guilty of spending too much time on my phone, I am beginning to see how much I miss when I am on my phone. It is kind of like this video Alec used in his lecture in which these girls at a baseball game are so distracted by their phones that they are not even watching the game. This makes me wonder, why did they go to the game in the first place?

At the same time, technology is still on the rise so banning technology in classrooms and schools completely is also not productive. Michael Wesch says YouTube, and I’ll argue that more recently social media and the internet in general, have created a “celebration of new forms of empowerment . . . [it creates] a stronger voice and presence [for others] . . . It’s a celebration of new forms of community, [ ] and types of community that we’ve really never seen before, global connections transcending space and time. It’s a celebration of new and unimaginable possibilities.” While there  are many positives to technology in an educational setting, as teachers we must be aware of the list of negatives that follow. Cyberbullying, stalking, sexual exploitations, and addiction to technology are just a few of these issues. So as educators, we must educate students on safe online usage and practices (here is just one resources from the RCMP on cyber safety for teens).

In the end, I believe there must be a healthy balance of technology use and non-use in the classroom. I think it is important for students to understand the multiple benefits of technology in our lives and the ease that technology has also brought, while also understanding that technology has it’s drawbacks and that our lives should not revolve around technology as there are many more important things.

Let me know what you think about having technology in the classroom, as well as what you think it’s place in the classroom should be!

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