The collection of videos reflected current successes and concerns around the use of technology in math and science classrooms. . Although they highlighted the underlying issues with the integration of technology into the math and science classrooms they also showed the light at the end of this tunnel.
The issues seemed to correlate with my thoughts as I unpacked some of my own assumptions. Access to computer labs as well as time came up several times within the videos. In addition, the lack of training or perceived lack of competence using technology to teach was revealed when the new teacher said she felt that she wanted to incorporate technology in her teaching, but that she felt pressured due to time constraints and the fact that she felt that she didn’t have enough prior knowledge of the technology to teach it properly. She also felt unprepared to troubleshoot in the moment, which seemed to make her fearful of trying to incorporate the technology. Considering student issues with technology, interestingly one of the students videoed reflected on the graphing calculator and although she used it because she said it saved time and she was “lazy”, she also relayed the fact that she felt that it disguised her mathematical problem solving and that she preferred pencil and paper to work out her math problem, at least initially.
I also noticed that technology was viewed as a “time” saver in some ways, and in another way was used for project based work, which tended to take more time and be more in depth. I think this was based on how the technology was used, whether for solving a specific problem or creating a presentation. This was just a reflection.
Another theme I noticed was that the technology used seemed to be limited to a few “tried and true” uses. This is not an underlying issue, just a reflection I made as I watched the videos. I think with technology often educators become familiar with a specific set of technology uses or presentation tools and stick with them. They also share these with other educators and so these get used more and more. One example of this would be the overuse (in my view) of PowerPoint when there are many more varied options available to present information in the same way. Again, this is probably due to time and training.
On the positive side technology was being used in many of the classrooms. From Powerpoint to podcasting, internet researching, animated GIFs, Flash presentations, graphic calculators to problem solve, videotaping creative dramatic science representations, soundscapes, etc. Both educators and students found it engaging and it helped to promote teamwork and partnered problem solving. In addition, pencil and paper was not thrown out the window but was seamlessly incorporated as part of the learning process, technology working alongside this. Different student learning needs were met with the variety of ways they could both access learning and present their understandings.
In considering a response to some of the underlying issues I chose to focus on using the resources available to the best of their capabilities. New teachers should be mentored and supported through being teamed up with more seasoned educators and then allowed to use technology in their teaching with guidance and supports. In addition, educators should be given time to share technology tools at staff meetings or division meetings. Students should also be utilized as an important resource when integrating technology in your teaching. Often the students are able to figure out how to use the technology, or already know how to use it and can show the teacher. Teachers need to bring the technology in, even if they are feeling a bit unsure. Even if the educator can wrap there head around one new technology tool, it may promote them to use it and to slowly integrate technology into their classroom.
In summation, I think it is important that technology is providing for differentiation. Students are not only bound to textbooks and written work, but are able to act, produce, reflect, create, problem solve, hypothesize, cooperate and present using technology as a tool. This is important and is providing for a deeper and more engaging learning experience for many. I look forward to reading your reflections.