One underlying issue arises from multiple functionality: Graphing calculators have capabilities beyond mathematical computation, serving as mobile computers with emerging potential and continual source of distraction. Calculator tricks provide automaticity to iteratively work out kinks, but may also promote laziness. Technology enhances learning helping to visualize concepts quicker and easier than paper concepts. Ideas can be observed during the process, which is more fun than writing all out, allowing students to engage even if they missed certain theory. Along with Clickers, technology enables tactile learning, participating with rapid feedback and peer teaching in risk free environments. Students view experiences as more hands-on than textbooks, acquiring knowledge of what to do without thinking about it. It frames homework less as questions assigned towards working for time period to accomplish goals. It makes me wonder how much background instruction is needed before teachers can leave students towards free inquiry. No doubt teachers use open questions as blueprints to have learners solve problems, playing without necessarily knowing the answer beforehand.
Gender equity was raised as another issue with differing proportions of boys and girls interacting differently with technology. Not only are certain subjects traditionally dominated by one gender, boys for example are stereotypically excited to try stuff, pulling on force sensors to test limits whereas girls maybe feeling less experienced are not as eager to explore, potentially giving up early. Here perhaps students can benefit through collaborative projects between interdisciplinary fields. Learners can focus on final products to inform the planning process, putting greater effort into presentations and developing media literacy related to curriculum. Accessibility issues are less common now as rarely do students lack home internet. What students were graphing on TI-83’s have evolved towards open platforms like Desmos, providing instant results for critical analysis with data interpretation.
Activity-based planning gives control back to students to balance traditional instruction, encountering personal teachable moments. Technology can be implemented at three levels: teacher-directed instruction, lock-step student and self-paced inquiry. No doubt students can teach each other, but again how much content do learners need before technology can be effectively used, and how is the role of teacher changing in response? 21st century learning is more interactive than transmissive, reflecting upon how to learn and developing transferable life skills. Technology can help bypass measurements and focus on key concepts over static components. Teachers can use problem-based learning for students to design labs, solving problems like friction coefficient with force sensors. Data Studio still requires critical thinking when computers show incredible detail, doing additional runs to average minor fluctuations. Everyone has a part to play in groups, with opportunities to correct in low risk environments.
Technology provides real-world relevance, giving students images that professionals work with to come up with similar conclusions. Computer simulations replace physical needs, though learners might feel disconnect lacking manual application, feeling like computers are merely programmed to do that, not actually representative of life. Many educators dream of incorporating technology, but simply do not have time to balance work, feeling pressured to know everything before teaching kids. Professional development workshops can help, though is easily forgotten without application. Another issue is lack of familiarity as some teachers begin with initial hatred, being unsure and afraid of technical problems. Colleagues can provide support networks to troubleshoot, though people may not want to continually be a bother. While upgrading technology, districts should prioritize training, introducing tools as early as teacher education programs, though pre-service teachers may find jumping into teaching is difficult enough already. An interesting perspective arose from one such teacher wanting to actively teach than watch students learn, viewing technology as medium and accessory. A possible response is letting go of being the expert, and promoting student ownership as it is much easier for students to pick up and conduct peer teaching. Group-based learning may come with noisier classes, but can often lead to surprising results.
Great post, I agree with you about gender equality issues and as an elementary school teacher I put a focus on helping the girls in my class feel comfortable around our Science and Math projects. We acquired a 3D printer and 12 Raspberry Pi’s this year and I find that the girls are just as interested as the boys in the areas of digital fabrication and physical computing. Both genders enjoy building models in Tinkercad and seeing how the printer forms their ideas into tangible objects. As well controlling LED’s creating GUI’s and coding motors in the Raspi’s seem to be a level field in terms of interest from both genders. Flipping that, programs like Twine allow for creative story writing while learning the basics of HTML and CSS which you might think boys would not be as interested in, but they love the challenge that the program presents. While my program is more tech centred than most of our teachers I hope that technology can provide opportunity in my class to branch into subject areas and between subjects that perhaps they were not interested in previously.
Thanks for sharing Nathan. I like how you balance gender equality with your Rasberry Pi and HTML examples. I’m curious to see how other colleagues view your successes/struggles being in a more tech-centred classroom. Maybe it’ll come up in your interview post.
I like the fact that you discussed Activity-based and PBL which gives a lot of the control back to the students.
I wonder if you could include the case videos you watched for this post.
A good next step might be to explain how Activity-based and PBL ties into the new BC science curriculum.
Thanks for the feedback. I collated my response after watching all the case studies though as summary:
Case 2: Graphing Calculator/Gender Equity
Case 3: Problem-Based Learning
Case 4: Simulations (One interviewee would rather teach than watch students learn themselves)
Case 7: Clickers for rapid feedback