Where I Went: the technology piece

Mythinformation: the almost religious conviction that a widespread adoption of computers and communications systems along with easy access to electronic information will automatically produce a better world for human living. (Winner, 1986).

In my first few years teaching, I felt a very strong push for technology use at the board level.  However, I got my back up because I felt that we were just ‘told’ that we had to do it and not given the reasons why it was better.  Through taking EC&I 830, I was given an opportunity to learn about different technologies and how it could be used in the classroom.  But, even after taking this class: I was still not on twitter; I stopped using my delicious account; and I only used computers in my classroom as either a research tool or glorified typewriter.  This would be a clear example of a CMS.  However, is EC&I 831 a PLN (see here for more information)?  I know that it depends completely on me.  That being said, I am not sure how much I will continue to expand and change my PLN once this class is over and so many other things get in the way.  I have never wholeheartedly embraced technology.  I spend time with it because I have to and it does make my life easier.  But I still have no desire for a smart phone, a data plan, or even an updated cell phone.

Now when I plan projects, I look at what I want to teach and then try to use technology to support what I am doing.  Enter delicious accounts for research, google docs for student/teacher sharing, and student-blogging to ask questions, share ideas, and create conversations.  This is not without its problems though.

I am currently working on a social studies citizenship project with my students.  They are exploring Canadian history from three different perspectives: First Nation and Metis, Francophone and Quebecois, and immigrant.  Students need to have a timeline, a map of their culture, an interview with a relevant resource, a field trip related to their topic, and a presentation for the class.  I went to the library to gather print resources for each group.  One day, the students did not have the computer for the first half hour of class and had to use only print resources for research.  Many of the students seemed to go through major withdrawl while waiting for the computers to arrive.  Once they had access, their gaze resembled that of the girl in the photograph: engaged, mesmerized, hypnotized, entranced…  addicted?

“The proliferation of images of children gazing at computers with wide-eyed wonder has much to do with the creation of this aura of multimedia innocence.  So too does the frequent juxtaposition of …technology and happy children, typically within the context of blatantly utopian environments, unfettered worlds in which youngsters are encouraged to give free reign to their creativity, ideas, and imagination” (Rose, p. 47).

I am curious for insight on this.  We seem to continue these stories by bragging about how early our children are exposed to technology and by how quickly they pick it up.  Do these stories need critical evaluation?  Or is it just the accepted (and wanted) norm?

Resources

Rose, Ellen (2000).  Hypetexts: the language and culture of educational computing.  London: The Althouse Press.

Winner, Langdon (1986).  The Whale and the Reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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7 Comments

Filed under Teaching and pedagogy

7 responses to “Where I Went: the technology piece

  1. Yr Athro

    “Now when I plan projects, I look at what I want to teach and then try to use technology to support what I am doing”
    Firstly, if technology is the answer it was a pretty poor question. I would ask, “how can I teach this topic?” ” what richness can I add to the topic through a range of these resources?”
    Within your environment, you have your own history; language, locality, and richness. Each has a story to tell, but those stories are alive only as long as the teller. How can you capture those stories so that they stay alive for future generations of Quebecois? How can you capture the richness? How could your students participate in creating and recording the history of your nation and people?
    I am not from where I live. Yet I live in a house and district which has a rich history of oppression and struggle against ‘colonialism’. I used to take my students into the mines and quarries, and we would meet the old quarrymen who told the tales of hardship and of growing up in ‘the old times’. I had no technology then, yet with an iPhone I could have captured stories, taken photographs. Their stories have gone now and that way of life has been lost. Use technology to create and record history; to build history, to produce something which they can share with their children, and you can share with your students.
    How will you capture that spirit, that magic? How will you keep them “engaged, mesmerized, hypnotized, entranced… addicted?”

    Not merely dream, but dream of a vision of perfection to which we can all aspire …

  2. onepercentyellow

    I find the storytelling around the use of technology quite interesting. I recognize that many are still living in a world of locked-down classrooms where even using skype is a huge push on the outside edge. I know that these positive stories about technology use need to be shared to open these classrooms to other experiences, but I am with you in fearing that these stories may displace or supersede those stories of engagement with other analogue communities, places and technology (you know… like the technology of the hammer or something equally analogue). I just fear that the people pushing for change find it necessary to give air time to those tech-y stories to achieve some very particular ends. I hope they find time to share the other incredible learning opportunities their students have.

  3. “Now when I plan projects, I look at what I want to teach and then try to use technology to support what I am doing. Enter delicious accounts for research, google docs for student/teacher sharing, and student-blogging to ask questions, share ideas, and create conversations. This is not without its problems though.”

    I really believe that our own comfort level with technology dictates what we do in our classrooms so by expanding your own horizons you may find that you become more comfortable incorporating technology into all that you do.

    The point you make about young people using technology and how quickly they “pick” it up is also interesting because I don’t always think students know how to use the technology to help them – rather they can get around with it but need to learn how to truly make it an asset.

  4. I believe that technology is an essential tool in the classroom and that teachers need to show the students how to properly use each piece of technology. They can pick it up quickly but are they using the device or technology its fullest potential. This also points to a problem that our school divisions are handing us technology and we are not shown how to use it…how are we supposed to expect our students to use the full capabilities then?

    I am currently doing a project with my grade 8 class as well. They interviewed refugees from the multicultural council last week and they were uploading their videos from their flip cams into iMovie. While they were waiting we had found books for them on the culture of their interviewee. They hopped right in and not one of them thought to look on the computer! The kids were engaged and on topic. Once they had worked on it for a while I saw some kids start to search on the computer.

  5. These stories certainly need critical evaluation, and it’s important that you ask these questions. Yet, many of those of who critique technology (such as Rose, although that is one of my favorite books) do not do well to balance their criticisms. To be critical for many of these authors is to present only a single side, the status-quo, a romantic view of days gone by – and the more favorable research is discounted or ultimately ignored.

  6. This is an interesting position to start exploring. From the reading that I’ve done and what I’ve watched in the classroom a lot of the great stories I’ve heard about technology have success due partially to a sense of novelty. As long as the students find the information that they are looking for it and how they are looking for it novel then you will get situations like the withdrawal symptoms you described above.

    This seems related to the Mythconception that you have listed above. People saw that they were able to do things in novel ways with computers so they decided that they were going to make things better. Education will need to change again once the shiny has worn off some of the technology that we are presenting now. The real issue that I see is that there is no way to see how technology affects students over the long term right now. By the time you followed a child through 5, 7, 10 or more years of education the technology that you are working with would have changed so much that the initial hypothesis of your study would seem irrelevant. So that leaves Education as a whole in a tough spot, either we try to find spots where technology fits and potentially have it not work as well as something else, or we go with “old school” practices and get accused of not innovating enough.

  7. Pingback: Putting It All Together | cschaferteacher

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