April 2010

“To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail” (Mark Twain)

A few days ago my sister pointed to me the quote above and it made me think how beautiful this quote reflects what is happening often with educational technology. Many of us (sometimes myself included) feel that if we get access to a new educational technology, it will magically solve all our problems: If I just get this new tablet, I will immediately become an interactive, student-center learning facilitator! (Is it REALLY-ALWAYS TRUE?) And what if having this new technology will make me even more teacher-centered than I was before? Is that a possibility? It takes time and effort to figure out how to use this technology effectively and reflect on what it adds to student learning. It is hard and challenging, but it is exactly what draws me to this field – I want to figure it out because technology opens amazing possibilities, we just need to figure them out. For example, we are currently exploring the use of Smartboards in our classes. We are at the stage now where we are learning the features of this technology and learning to be comfortable with it. Yet our main goal is to figure out how to use it effectively. So I keep asking myself – what can it do that we could not have done before? It is interesting that new technologies often can harm student learning as much as they can advance it. For example, when teachers started using PowerPoint all over the place instead of using it where approporiate, this might have made it easier for the teachers but not necessarily easier for the students. I haven’t answered any questions here, I do not have the answers, but I believe the questions are worth exploring…

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