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Reasons for using technology in your classroom

Placing technology in K-12 schools can be expensive, both in terms of money and the time it takes for faculty, staff, and students to learn to use these tools. What reasons are typically given to justify this effort?

Before you answer that question, view this video about K-12 learners. Dr. AnneBednar at Eastern MichiganUniversity has suggested that there are generally three rationales given for the use of technology in schools. Her description of those reasons are:

1. Student learning/motivation: Use of instructional technology can increase student learning and/or motivation to learn over other teaching methods.

2. Tech to work: Already more than 75% of all jobs require use of a computer in some capacity. Students who are skilled in using technology in accomplishing tasks in school will be better prepared for the world of work.

  • e.g. an article written by the Education World publication's "tech team" that answers the question, "Should kids in primary grades use computers?" In interviewing teachers who have successfully used technology in the classroom, these educators give many reasons, but the "real-life skill that will carry them throughout their entire lives" is a strong and repeating theme.
  • Related to this rationale is one that Jamila noted from the recent OTEN Conference and the Transmedia presenter. "She said that it's important that we meet students 'where they are,' which means that we must recognize and respond to how they are receiving information outside of school." So this one is about the pervasiveness of digital technology (as reflected also in the work place) but also it concerns the society at large. Digital Natives is one phrase that has been used to describe this...the need to teach in a way that reaches digital natives.

3. Student centered learning environments: Use of instructional technology facilitates development of a student-centered learning environment rather than a teacher-centered classroom.

One important note: I would suggest that each of these rationales can "stand on their own," but in practice they are usually used rather interchangeably. The "video about K-12 learners" linked to above is a nice example of of how these rationales can be intertwined. Which rationales do you see in that video?

  • Concept map showing some possible reasons why one might argue for using technology in the schools generated by the January 2005 EDUC 436/537 course.
  • A link to an article about the United Nations Cyberschoolbus which is based on an additional possible rationale--technology as a tool for global equity.
Read the recent New York Times article, "Technology in Future faces Questions on Value..." (see attachment below). Come to class prepared to concisely summarize the  arguments made in the article. We will do this in groups using concept mapping software. In addition to summarizing his arguments, be prepared to contribute any response you might have to his argument. 
  • Completed outline (Monday group--to be added by Mike after class)

Further exploration...
Here is a another Edutopia article that addresses the "myriad of reasons" that one should use technology. In my reading, I see this as a good example of why the TPACK model--one that does not attribute educational value to "billions spent on technology" but instead to a whole package of pedagogy, content knowledge, and technology--is the way to frame the question.

Todd Oppenheimer published an article called The Computer Delusion back in the last decade of the 20th Century that was also seminal in conversations about technology concerns. In many ways it echoes the concerns described in the Technology in Schools Faces Questions on Value... below.

If you enjoyed our class discussion about this article, you might enjoy reading further about it, perhaps as part of your final project. Here is a place to start. I have written further about the way that our dominant mode of thinking is technical, and the effect of that kind of thinking is to reduce education to a production task. Thus the real threat to  the fundamentally human character of education is from technical thinking (as embodied in legislation like No Child Left Behind) and not from technical objects like computers or tablets being used in schools. Here are links to three articles. 
Mike Charles,
Sep 21, 2011, 10:03 AM
Nicole Brown,
Oct 8, 2012, 12:00 PM