Unpacking Assumptions

Personally, digital technology in the classroom encompasses many different learning devices and tools that can help promote or facilitate learning in the classroom. This can include a variety of different sources such as the Internet, computer programs, tablet apps, or other forms of physical devices and/or equipment to promote learning. A more digitally immersed classroom could also incorporate other forms of technology to organize lessons and units such as a digital calendar (like Planbook), class website or blog (like Edmodo), or other forms of social media tools (e.g. classroom discussion boards). A classroom can also be simply utilizing technology to convey information through the use of digital projectors or PowerPoint presentations. Regardless of the amount of the digital technology present in any classroom, the purpose behind their usage is of the utmost importance.

As a secondary school teacher in B.C., the effective use of digital technology in the classroom is primarily to support and reinforce concepts currently being learned in the classroom. I utilize the technology available from digital projectors, certain lab equipment, the Internet, and various other means to assist and strengthen classroom material. I also sometimes utilize digital technology to introduce concepts and allow students to explore specific concepts before it has been officially taught. Students have also, on occasion, used websites and other online tools to learn a very specific concept in the class. Through these carefully planned ‘study guides’, students self teach the material without any formal teacher instruction. I feel that I use the technology available effectively to support student learning in my classroom but am largely restricted by what resources are available.

In regards to conceptual challenges in the classroom, digital technology is able to provide an alternate avenue for students to learn from (aside from teacher instruction). These methods allow students to fully interact or better visualize concepts and material that might not otherwise be as well represented. In short, digital technology can be infused into any classroom to any level of degree but in order to be effectively utilized, there needs to be a balance in the intensity of digital technology used with traditional teaching pedagogy. Choosing which advanced technology to use in a classroom environment should be dependant on how it benefits as well as how much it improves students’ learning. In terms of my vision for the imminent future, I would like to see digital technology to be more fully integrated where users understand the costs and benefits of using it as well as the financial challenges to implement it in classrooms.

 

4 comments

  1. HI Darren,

    You shared a variety of ways you integrate digital technology into teaching your students. Your point about the effective use of technology primarily to support and reinforce concepts reminded me of the way I teach my grade 7 students in math. There are mental math apps like King of Math and Math Bingo that support the skill building of mental math where my students spend 5-10 minutes regularly. These apps are more effective for having my students grasp the idea of having quick and accurate responses to simple math questions compared to pencil paper because it is more engaging and the game-based elements are motivating (i.e. leveling up, points system, etc.)

  2. Hi Darren,

    I really like the way you have emphasized the importance of integrating technology to promote, facilitate and support learning within your classroom. To me, your post highlights the importance of using technology as a teaching and learning tool, rather than “to” teach and learn. I feel that in some cases, technology is used not so differently as a teacher taught in a traditional classroom. In the past, students’ minds were to be filled by the knowledge imparted by the teacher. If we simply hand out technology, we are asking students to learn from the knowledge imparted by the technology (which will undoubtedly lead to misconceptions at some point), rather than to learn with the technology as a support to promote learning. Your post has shown how technology can be effectively integrated into the classroom to provide a meaningful learning experience for your students, while you continue to guide them on their journey of discovery and learning.

  3. Hi Darren!

    Excellent points made on use of technology, its scope as well as its importance in enhancing student learning. The one thing that caught my eye was your statement about the balance of using digital technology with traditional teaching methods and I’d like to ask if you could further elaborate on the importance of striking this balance.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!
    Vibhu

    1. Hi Vibhu,

      Thanks for your comments!

      I think while it’s important to incorporate new and upcoming technology into lessons, I also appreciate the tried and true methods that have been traditionally used. For example, when I assign a research project in my class students are largely adept at looking up information online but not as able to find information from print media within the library. A similar example would be that students are able to find and clarify information effectively online but are at a loss when using their textbook.

      In the end, as every student learns differently, I think it’s important to use as many differing methods of education to promote learning and not limit it to just digital technology or more traditional methods.

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