Melanie Smetana, Morgan Havel, Allie Linzing
Question: After a highly successful experience in the renowned Special Education program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, you took a critical position with a school district seeking to accelerate technology and innovation throughout its classrooms. Midway through the year, a building principal has forwarded you an email from a concerned parent. The parent had just read an article from the Moving to Learn group titled “Ten reasons to NOT use technology in schools for children under the age of 12 years”, and is now concerned about the expanded use of technology in the school district. The principal and superintendent would like you to provide a significant and meaningful response.
Please be sure to consider our conversations around the digital age, new literacies, and digital citizenship, and offer up a bold description of modern students and teachers. Please be sure to support your descriptions with plenty of facts, and address the concerns raised in the Moving to Learn article
Answer: Dear concerned parent,
I can understand your concerns from this article: http://movingtolearn.ca/2014/ten-reasons-to-not-use-technology-in-schools-for-children-under-the-age-of-12-years
This article really does make technology sound like it is awful, but I can assure you that this article is WRONG. They are using a lot of false information and accusations that are not supported by a lot of research. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything, but using technology in instruction has far more pros than cons if used CORRECTLY and EFFECTIVELY! Technology paired with a teacher who knows how to effectively implement it in their instruction can create amazing results. In short, technology is necessary to use in instruction because technology is constantly changing and advancing. Our students need to learn how to adapt to changes. Our students are being raised in a technical world, so it would be counterproductive and a disadvantage for them to not use technology in school. There is no doubt that technology will be used when students graduate from high school whether that is in college or whatever their career is. We are setting students up for failure if we don’t incorporate technology. Technology can be catered to students’ interests keeping them engaged and enjoying their learning. To start off, there is an article titled “Ten Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom” to alleviate your concerns from the article you have just read. I will also go through each point and explain why it is not an accurate depiction of technology in the classroom.
- The article claims that “they don’t need it” and that it does “more harm than good”. Actually, students do need it and it provides more good than harm. Students are not only as smart as their device. I think the mistake this article is making is that the technology they are referring to is not being used correctly. Students should not be glued to an iPad or laptop all day. They should not be working by themselves all the time. Technology should not be a cop-out for teachers who don’t know how to teacher, technology should be use to ENHANCE learning. Teachers are still crucial for our students, technology will never replace teachers. Nothing can replace the passion a teacher has for wanting his/her students to learn and do their best. A teacher has technology is their tool belt, and if they don’t use it, they are only hurting their students.
- The second point the article makes is that it is not research evidenced, and you shouldn’t push apps and games on babies. I agree, you should try to get your new born baby to play on technology. But we are talking about students in elementary school and above. Too much of anything can be bad, and the same goes for technology. It is all about finding a balance between technology, explicit instruction, and play. In all grades, students in preschool, pre-k, and above, students should not be glued to their technology all day. The article does state one true fact that technology will significantly change over the next 5-10 years. This is why students need to be immersed into technology and change with it! Technology will advance quickly, and it always will. Students will need to learn to adapt to changes, this is an important skill they will use throughout their whole life and into adulthood.
Here is an article to prove that there is research to support technology in the classroom.
- This point is just a little extreme. These products would not be on the market if they were not safe for everyone to use. If a parent has a specific concern, they can of course communicate with the teacher and come up with an appropriate solution.
- This point about ignoring the guidelines makes me wonder where they got this information and how reliable it is. The article states no technology exposure for 0-2 years, 1 hour/day for 3-5 years, and 2 hours/day 6-18 years, yet the average child uses 4-5 times that amount of entertainment technology before they even get to school.” I have a couple problems with this statement. First problem is that if they child is using 4-5 times that amount in entertainment before that get to school, that is the parents problem, not the school’s problem. Parents should be monitoring their child’s technology use and if a student is using 3+ hours before they even get to school at 8am that raises and little concern for me that this information is false, or the parents are letting their students use way too much technology at 5 am when they should be sleeping. The ranges in this “fact” are also a little bizarre. 6-18 is a huge range; an 18 year old will obviously use more technology than a 6 year old. An 18 year old is in college, they can’t be expected to use the same amount of technology that a 6 year old uses.
- This article depicts a classroom where students are never allowed to move or speak or even look away from their device. Movement does enhance attention and learning, but for the sack of everyone’s sanity, students can’t be running around the entire day. There must be some structure and sometimes where students are sitting down doing their work. Recess is still definitely allowed for K-8 students, as I think it is important for students to get a break from the instruction. High school students get longer lunch periods which makes up for no recess. Technology does not always need to be sedentary. Students can go up to the front of the room and work with an interactive device like a SmartBoard, they can rotate through stations and different activities, and collaborate with each other.
- Students with high anxiety or ADHD can indeed learn and should not be held to lower expectations because of this. Assistive technology can be a great source for students with anxiety or attention problems. Here are a few articles discussing technology and students with attention deficits.
This article describes and shows a video of an App called “Stop, Breathe, and Think” which can be a great resource for students struggling with high anxiety.
- With the right technology and programs, it can be very easy to monitor. You can block certain sites to ensure students are only using educational sites or apps. As a teacher, you should also be circulating while students work to make sure they are on task.
- If a person is using too much of anything, they can become addictive, technology included. Saying that “Never in the history of humankind have there been child addictions” is a little extreme, and I would never even compare technology to dangerous drugs like cocaine or crack. A student will not become addicted to technology solely from educational use at school. The addiction happens at home. The addiction happens through personal use like social media, texting, video games, etc. This is something that needs to be monitored at home because students are not allowed to use their personal devices in school or use any of those social media outlets.
- Reading, writing, and arithmetic will still be taught correctly and effectively with the help of technology to keep students engaged, and allow for a fun alternative to working on boring worksheets. There is no way we will ignore the instruction of print. As I have mentioned before, technology will not be used all the time, only when appropriate. In teaching math, it is important to use a combination of explicit instruction, student invented strategies, hands-on materials, and technology. No subject will ever completely be taught through technology on a “2-dimentional screen” as the article states. I have attached a wonderful article that explains how technology can help increase math learning.
- Technology is very sustainable. Technology is not going anywhere; it is going to be around for the rest of all of our lives. Technology can help our environment as well. Online assignments and submissions reduce the use of paper, as do e-books that are expanding in popularity. Here is an article that explains how technology can be used to make our planet more sustainable.
Thank you for addressing us with your concerns, I hope they have been cleared up. I hope that you and more parents see the benefits in using technology in the classroom, and that it does more good than harm!