Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Tech

This course has scope to consider so many possible avenues for exploration into educational technology and related issues that it is almost dangerous to lump all these avenues together. It would almost be better if communications technology were specified, or if we focused on research and presentations in particular. With a course named Teacher and Tech, however, we are constrained by our freedoms. Any technology that could potentially have an application in the classroom becomes our course material. Any idea that loosely connects technology to the idea of learning becomes a text.

One could say that we have not lived up to the idea of drawing those links yet between teachers and the technological cornucopia that is 2011. So far we have explored different technologies available to teachers and generalist classrooms. Some examples include Powerpoint, (although we have not spoken at all about projectors and screens) blogging, Podcasts, virtual classrooms, film and internet resources. We have spoken less about how to obtain technology for your classroom, how to decide whether a certain technology fits the bill as educational and useful, and what might be the different technological requirements of a specialty class such as music, art or power mechanics.

In terms of dialogues on the idea of technology in the classroom, we have had several good ones. One of them centered around a video in which kids of this generation are seen to be spending ridiculous amounts of time online, text messaging and playing video games. The video did a good job of showing that these kids are actually normal, except in some behaviors. One topic which I think bears further discussion is that we as teachers need to either meet students where they are at, in terms of using their technology (despite fears of pandering to the student’s whims) or teach the ethics of technology, reasonable restraint of “screen time,” and the value and nuance of face-to-face meetings with real people. I would argue that we can teach both, but the real debate is how far to lean one way or the other.


  1. First of all, 10 points and a gold star for using the word cornucopia!

    I must admit that going into this course I was limited in thinking the content would be about using and implementing specific technological devices in the classroom. Looking back on this, it seems silly. What technology could we possibly learn about that we don't know (or couldn't figure out) already?

    I think our most important job as teachers (which was outlined in today's presentation by John Finch) is just what this course is doing for us. It's not teaching us how to use technology, it's teaching us how to supplement our lives (ie. teaching) with the benefits of technology. We're learning how to use critical and creative thinking to both define technology and to find its most beneficial use. We as teachers should be imparting the same knowledge to our students, albeit in a different context. It's scary to think just how much people disseminate about themselves not even thinking or knowing of the repercussions. For me, this whole blogging thing just about makes it into that TMI (too much information) zone...

  2. Thank you for this post Ben, and Katie for referencing John Finch's presentation because it strikes at the heart of my own thinking about teaching with technology. So much of out "technology" instruction in university has been about the actual 'tools' of technology, be that hardware or software. Very little of our dialogue has been on the effective and affective usage of technology, or ethics, diversity, implications, and understandings that come with teaching with technology.
    This has been paid lip service to, and many course syllabi I have seen sound like they will enter in to this discussion, but I feel like it never gets addressed. I don't need another professor trying to fumble through a technology that I could create or modify myself, and have probably been using for many more years that the teacher. What I need is an environment that discusses and engages with the new ethos we must have as teachers in a technological world. If you are not comfortable using technology, fine, don't use it in your teaching. However, you still need to understand how technology is affecting your students lives, and thoughts, and the very way their brains learn.

    Teaching us technology is redundant. Teaching us about the ethos and ethics of technology is applicable.