My life pretty much revolves around technology. I just spent 15 minutes helping a colleague set up Messages on her Macbook. My family of four is constantly connected via a text group. (Latest conversation? Dogs during college finals.) I Skype and Google Hangout. I play video games – console and mobile.
I currently have six different types of smart devices within arm’s reach. I travel all over the country helping teachers integrate games and iPads and Chromebooks and web tools and GAFE into their instruction. I’ve got enough SAMR model examples to last for months.
So perhaps the title of today’s post seems a bit out of place.
But a recent article in InformEd has got me thinking. Titled When Not to Use Technology: 15 Things That Should Stay Simple In Education, the article asks the question:
. . . what happens when technology is mis-used in education?
Author Sara Briggs is very clear. Technology can enhance learning. Choice. Flexibility. Collaboration. Research. Engagement. Interaction. Idea sharing. But . . .
the Shiny New Tech Syndrome is taking the world by storm, and with the added pressure of finding new ways to improve educational outcomes, we try our best not to be tempted. But there are some things . . . if we stopped to question ourselves, we’d find them best delivered the old-fashioned way.
The problem, Sara suggests, is that many teachers use technology for the sake of using technology rather than using technology for a practical purpose.
Mastering the functions of the latest apps and gadgets is not an educational achievement in and of itself. What matters is not how many tools a student knows to operate, but how well she uses them to enhance her understanding of the world.
She continues by listing 15 different reasons why using technology is a bad idea . . . including such things as
When it undermines deep learning
Experts have found that educational technology is most powerful when used as a tool for problem solving, conceptual development, and critical thinking. But if integrated inappropriately, it can backfire in a way that undermines all three skills. Be sure you are using technology to enhance the way students think, not just the way they memorise facts.
When it undermines basic learning
Technology may in fact be quite intuitive for today’s younger generations, but it shouldn’t replace the basic skills our society values. Take the calculator example again, for instance. Even in our technologically advanced age, it’s not socially acceptable to have to whip our your iPhone to calculate a time zone difference of, say, five hours. We still need those basic skills.
When it decreases interaction
At its best, technology is an incredible social tool, connecting people around the world. But it can also reduce the chances of interaction and the learning experiences that come with it. When you can look up the right answer on Google, you don’t get to benefit from hearing a friend suggest the wrong answer, or hearing a teacher discuss why it’s the wrong answer. Humans should learn from one another, not just from computers.
When it reduces the chance of failure
This is a big one. Mistakes create learning experiences. Without a struggle, we oftentimes end up with shallow learning and false confidence. Don’t use technology to create perfect students.
You need to head over and get the full list. Then you need to sit down and take a few minutes for some serious self-assessment. Because it’s too easy to use technology in ways that hurt learning. And sometimes . . . we just need to stop.