A balancing act in the classroom

The microprocessor is the cornerstone for all our technological devices.  Moore, an Intel co-founder once prophesized that, “the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years” (Intel, n.d.). Due to this rapid cycle, our society has come to expect the constant obsolescence of technology devices. The impact on education has meant that schools are also caught in a never ending loop of acquiring and integrating new tools.

Although we have no difficult imaging all the benefits that technology brings to education, Postman (1992) prompts readers to consider the costs. These technology costs can come in a variety of forms. For example, an economic cost can be the technology left languishing in the corner of the classroom without proper teacher support and encouragement to enable their use (Demetriadis et al., 2003; Hennessy, Ruthven, & Brindley, 2005; Mueller, Wood, Willoughby, Ross, & Specht, 2008). Another cost in the classroom might be the time investment, both in scheduling and preparation (Baylor & Ritchie, 2002).

Reflecting on the dialogue between O’Donnell and Engell, it became apparent that a balance needs to be struck in classroom  (Cambridge Forum, 1999).

Balancing lady
caption: Balancing lady orangebrompton CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The image selected provides a metaphor for the balance between technology’s loss and gain. Educators cannot avoid technology; its pervasive nature is unavoidable. Technology will always be a part of our classrooms. On the other side of that balance are good pedagogical practices. Learning does not simply improve with increased access to technology; it can only come from the refinement of teacher skill and knowledge.



Baylor, A. L., & Ritchie, D. (2002). What factors facilitate teacher skill, teacher morale, and perceived student learning in technology-using classrooms? Computers & Education, 39(4), 395–414.

Cambridge Forum. (1999). From Papyrus to Cyberspace.

Demetriadis, S., Barbas, A., Molohides, A., Palaigeorgiou, G., Psillos, D., Vlahavas, I., Tsoukalas, I., et al. (2003). “Cultures in negotiation”: teachers’ acceptance/resistance attitudes considering the infusion of technology into schools. Computers & Education, 41(1), 19–37.

Hennessy, S., Ruthven, K., & Brindley, S. (2005). Teacher perspectives on integrating ICT into subject teaching: commitment, constraints, caution, and change. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37(2), 155–192.

Intel. (n.d.). Moore’s Law Inspires Intel Innovation. Intel. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/silicon-innovations/moores-law-technology.html

Mueller, J., Wood, E., Willoughby, T., Ross, C., & Specht, J. (2008). Identifying discriminating variables between teachers who fully integrate computers and teachers with limited integration. Computers & Education, 51(4), 1523–1537.

Postman, N. (1992). The judgment of Thamus. Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.

About jmah

I've taught a wide variety of subjects at the middle/jr. high level. Most recently, I've specialized in the area of Industrial Technologies (Robotics, CAD/CAM-CNC, Electronics, etc.) I currently reside in Calgary, Alberta.
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4 Responses to A balancing act in the classroom

  1. kstackhouse says:

    You have described this balancing act well. I have gone by many classrooms where the SMART Board is really not being used any differently than the white board you can see peeking behind it. In my class the have actually mounted the SMART Board onto the White Board, which is mounted on top of the chalk board…It is my own little evolutionary chart. 🙂

    The temptation to jump on the newest gadget bandwagon continues to get worse. New releases of devices are getting cheaper and easier in one’s mind to justify the “upgrade”. Your mention of the time and training is important to consider as well.

    • jmah says:

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for responding to my post. Interactive White Boards (IWBs) such as Smartboards get better with each new model. However, does our teaching with this technology also change?

      I’m not against IWBs as a standard part of classrooms. I just think that when we invest large sums of money into technology initiatives, that some planning goes into the implementation. I feel the same for how some one-to-one projects have been conducted.

      It’ll be exciting to see the day when multi-touch IWBs become standard – breaking a technology barrier to interaction.

  2. learle says:

    Hi Jerry,
    Your concept of a balancing act is so true. It reminded me of something I came across this summer called TPACK .

    “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to identify the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). ”


    Tpack. (n.d.). Technological pedagogical content knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.tpck.org/

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