Debunked: 5 myths about classroom technology

Anna Johansson looks at 5 myths that a lot of educators have used to argue against incorporating more technology into their classroom. Each of these five were reasons that I heard in my own experiences as a teacher and Technology Integration Specialist.  After reading her article, and the few comments that followed, I felt compelled to comment on my own blog about the topic and the 5 myths she shared.

  1. Social Limitations
  • Johansson makes a completely valid argument here. Students are not missing out on social interactions because they are using technology more in the classroom. Technology opens up new realms of possibilities for social interaction. Were students able to use FaceTime or Skype to communication with subject matter experts before those products came out? Yes, but typically it was not face-to-face unless the expert came to them or vice-versa. Being able to have that video chat makes it extremely easy for students to share their ideas and ask questions of those subject matter experts to better guide their work.
  • Students today also have the ability to do real-time collaboration with their peers using technology. Google Drive, Office 365 w/OneDrive, and even Apple’s iCloud all support multiple users working on the same documents at the same time. This was hard to do in the past because they would have to be sitting together at confined space writing by hand their collaborations before putting them into a more polished format using a typewriter, word processor, or computer.
  1. Distractions
  • Is it not the vary nature of children to become distracted at times? Arguments are made all the time by educators that student technology usage leads to distraction. I argue back that it isn’t the technology usage that is leading to the distraction; it is the classroom management of that technology that is. If a teacher is unprepared for the technology usage they are expecting from their students in the classroom then chaos is likely to ensue. Would you go out into the business world and give someone a task to complete without making sure that they had the prerequisite skills to do so? I would hope not, but so many teachers do that to their students. The assumption is that they have grown up with this technology, therefore, they all know how to use it. 99% of the time that is not the case and guided instruction needs to take place to prepare them to complete the requested task.
  • Too many times districts and schools are jumping on the 1:1 initiative bandwagon without doing the leg work to prepare their staffs. If you are going to put devices into the hands of your students, you need to put devices into the hands of your staff first and do the professional development to prepare them for what is coming. You cannot reasonable expect a teacher to walk in on the first day of school and be prepared to start in a 1:1 initiative without provided scaffolded support to them on how to most effectively use that technology in the classroom. Too many time 1:1 programs become an afterthought because of this vary problem. With the correct work with staff those distractions will be at a minimum for the students.
  1. Stifling of cognitive development
  • Yes, cognitive development can decline as Johansson outlines in the article. But she also points out that the real-world is just as reliant on technology as classrooms are becoming. Do we want to stop bloggers, programmers, or doctors from using technology to accomplish their tasks? No! So why are so many people arguing to do that to our students? Why are we going to stifle their creativity, their spark of inspiration, their output just because we think it might stifling their cognitive development? I hate to be cliche, but that’s just like throwing up the baby with the bath water. It serves no useful purpose. I have seen so many student grow and develop through the use of technology over the last 10+ years in education that I cannot buy into this argument.
  1. Test score effects
  • We are a test happy society. Why? I don’t know. I still haven’t found the validity in testing as much as we do. I will readily admit, that testing was my primary form of assessment in my classroom. Would it be if I returned now? Not at all. There are too many other ways to evaluate student success than just a simple test.
  • High-stakes state testing should NEVER been the ultimate measure of the success of a student or a teacher. Yet politicians and appointees to boards make that call without seeing what other forms of assessment could be used to measure those outcomes.
  1. Technology is expensive
  • Really? I thought they were just giving this stuff away? Could any more of a ridiculous reason be given? Innovation is not cheap. Improving the quality of the education of our children should have no cost preventative issues. Working in technology management currently, I know the cost of devices we place into schools. Those costs are dropping almost daily though. Look at Chromebooks. Chromebooks are the leading selling devices in education. You can purchase a decent Chromebook for less than $300 including the management license to use in Google G-Suite for Education. More powerful and functional devices will bring that cost higher, of course, but if a student is using that device for research, writing, creating presentations, editing images, etc., it is more than a sufficient device. iPads are cheap now as well. Apple’s current 9.7″ iPad is less than $350 for education purchasers. That is amazing compared to a few years ago when I purchased 160+ iPad Mini devices for a bit more than that a piece. Costs are not as prohibitive and people are trying to argue. They are simply misinformed or unknowledgeable about the topic.

Overall, I enjoyed Johansson’s short piece and couldn’t agree more with her on these 5 myths. I would love to here what others may think of this. Feel free to comment below and share your own feelings.

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