being a teacher, future, technology

Do High-tech Gadgets Improve Learning – What a Dumb Question

I love Time For Kids; this magazine invokes deep discussion in my classroom, it lets the kid explore career opportunities and it delivers news to us every week.  This week’s blaring headline was “Technology Takeover…Schools Nationwide Are Using Technology to Teach Lessons.  But Do High-Tech Gadgets Improve Learning?”  At which I immediately scribbled on a post-it – what a dumb question!

Dumb because the gadget has nothing to do with the learning.  Dumb because any new thing introduced to a classroom could be considered a “gadget” which makes it sound not quite serious, not quite ready to be used by students properly.  Dumb because it has nothing to do with the access to a new tool but rather how you use it.  In fact, you could change this headline to truly show its idiocy thus “Do Paper and Pencils Improve Learning?”  Well no, not really, but how you use them do!  We have all witnessed classrooms where paper and pencils do nothing to enhance the out-dated instruction being lectured.  Many of us have rebelled against the stale classroom by bringing in technology tools to connect our students with the world, to give them the tools they need to succeed, while still using paper and pencils.  So no high-tech gadgets do not improve learning but how you use them can.

Yet this question keeps popping up in media and school conversations.  Can tech gadgets really improve learning or is it all a rueful ploy orchestrated by Apple and its minions to get us to spend more money on it?  Should we be getting rid of textbooks in favor of iPads, will students ever use paper and pencils again, what will becomes of this generation?  Magazines discuss these topics as if technology means a farewell to everything else we hold dear, to everything else we know and trust.  But it doesn’t.  Technology adds (if used properly!), technology deepens, and it can enhance.  That can lead to improved learning but only if the facilitator uses it right.  Like with anything else we bring into a classroom, we determine whether it is worth it, or whether it should be forgotten.  We must embrace the future but that the tools of it will be the magic pill.  A poor instructor remains a poor instructor with or without the technology.

3 thoughts on “Do High-tech Gadgets Improve Learning – What a Dumb Question”

  1. Can I get a "Hell, yeah"? I use this same argument when dealing with ridiculous restrictions regarding technology in the school or classroom. Sure, students could misuse Youtube or a cell phone, but that's also true of anything else in the classroom.

  2. Excellent post! It really hit home with me. In a course I'm now taking, EDM310, we are learning the importance of integrating technology into our future classrooms and how to do it effectively. Your post fell right on time because the last few assignments given to use are to get us to realize how dumb this question really is. People fail to realize that technology is just a tool. Teachers are still needed to facilitate learning. It's just left up to the teacher to put the driving force behind the tool. I think of it like this, can you sit a lawnmower on the lawn and expect it to mow it? Of course not! So why do some think gadgets work the same? So after watching assigned videos and reading your post, I have come to a conclusion. YES, this is a dumb question!

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