It is true that technology has become a main feature of learning today, but this week’s readings have shown me just how complex it can be. When I think of the technology incorporated into student’s lives every day my thoughts center in on smartboards, calculators, and in some cases computers. What I didn’t think to consider is how much cell phones, gaming devices, and web browsing effects student learning on a daily basis. One of the first web sites we browsed this week showed how endless hours spent on a computer or gaming system effects our bodies. What I found most interesting about this site was how exposure to technology affects the brain and ways people think. In a study conducted by Gary Small, those who used the internet more frequently “showed twice as much signaling in brain regions responsible for decision making and complex reasoning.” The study also showed however that with increased internet use came a decrease in the skills to “engage memory in the learning process, taking things step by step and addressing one task at a time.” I think this is important to keep in mind as a future educator of the technology natives so that I can cater lessons to play to student’s strengths while improving their weakness. This website provided several other facts about what today’s youth is experiencing due to hours of technological use that could be helpful to know as a teacher.
Of all the readings and information we learned this week, the one that stuck out the most to me was “The Myths and Opportunities of Technology in the Classroom” from the New Learning Institute. This video emphasized how much schooling has changed throughout its history, and how we can use technology to both move forward, while holding the same beliefs from the past. I thought it was very interesting how Alan November pointed out that instead of just taking information from the internet students need to trade it globally across the curriculum. Centuries ago it was expected for children to do their part in the community, but because of technology society has moved away from those expectations.
I think that this video was very informative for future and practicing teachers alike in that the role as an educator should be more of a facilitator. When I was going through school I succeeded the most in the topics where I was able to contribute to the learning process. The idea that the student should be a contributor is one that more teachers should embrace in the classroom by creating a network of students helping each other learn. Now this doesn’t mean that students should only use technology as a means of researching information then copying and pasting it as their own work. The downfall to technology is that it is so easy for students to access information that it tends to create problems with cutting corners (November). This is where I think 21 century learning can be added to compensate for students trying to take the short cut and plagiarizing work. By forcing students to think critically and have more responsibility for their learning the teacher ensures each student is pulling their weight.
One such method of getting students to interact with the material is by using smartboard technology. Another thing I learned this week was that there is a big debate as to whether or not smartboards are useful in a classroom. While both sides made very compelling arguments, I still believe I will be utilizing a smartboard if given the opportunity in my classroom. A primary reason I am convinced interactive white boards can aid in student learning is by the sheer magnitude of programs available. After exploring the interactive website I found so many great math activities that allow the students to get up and be a part of the learning. During my last practicum placement my cooperating teacher used several activities on the smartboard that made the students excited to learn; it kept the students engaged and responsible for the material. On the other hand, I understand how having only a couple students at a time participate in certain activities can take away from the class, but the interactive white boards have all sorts of tools to compensate for that, such as clickers to assess the class as a whole. Bill Ferriter points out that the expenses alone for a smartboard are not worth what little they contribute to the classroom. I agree that the money could be used for a wider variety of resources, but if used right I believe an interactive white board is well worth the cost of upkeep.
Overall, I learned a lot from the various readings this week that make me more aware of the technology natives I will be teaching in my classroom. I agree with the readings that it is important to know what students are doing both in and out of the classroom in regards to using technology as a tool in education. It is my goal to teach my students how to think critically and use the technology available to further their understanding of the material.
Brown, S. (Producer). (2009). The myths and opportunities of technology in the classroom [Video File]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/12642950
Jefferson County Schools. (n.d.). Interactive websites for grades k-12. Retrieved from http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/interactive.htm
Wikispaces Contributors. (n.d.). 21st century pedagogy . Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st Century Pedagogy
Ferriter, B. (2010, February 10). What i’d buy instead of an interactive whiteboard. Retrieved from http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/2010/02/what-id-buy-instead-of-an-interactive-whiteboard.html