Just Add Technology And Mix For Instant Engagement

I was going to add this as a comment to Dan Meyer's reaction to another edtech wake-up call video, but the stream of responses and the reasons for Dan's displeasure seemed to be going down another track to what I observed so I held it over for this space.  I'm not so bothered by the format of the video (although the style looks vaguely formulaic!!) as the underlying message that seems to be seeping through.

My reaction upon seeing grim faced child after grim faced child hoist a laptop into the air was, "Does the author really think that just access to technology solves the problem and makes the classroom an engaging place to be?" The statements being held up were unsubstantiated sentences and pleas and do very little to actually make a case for the thoughtful application of technology for learning. I kept thinking that the nature of the classroom and the lesson structures within were what needed to be changed rather than just adding the technology in just because it is "fun" and "easier to learn when it is noisy".

I've said it before and this video doesn't change my view that technology in the classroom magnifies a teacher's practice. It will make a good teacher even better and it will make the shortcomings of a poor teacher even more obvious. This video sends the message "Just Add Technology And The Engagement Will Happen."

It's not that simple.

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4 thoughts on “Just Add Technology And Mix For Instant Engagement

  1. John Larkin

    Nice and succinct Graham. Adding technology is not as simple as ‘just add water and stir’. Your thoughts remind of the various ACME based solutions Wile E. Coyote sought to nail the Road Runner. There is no easy solution or fix.

  2. Hannah Davis

    I absolutely agree. Technology is an awesome thing, but it can still be dry and boring. If the students are not interested, there is no need to use it. I also agree that it can make a good teacher better, and a not so great teacher look worse. Technology has to be used effectively. Whoever is using it needs to be familiarized with it. These days, a teacher especially needs to be able to use technology in a riveting way for their students. If they do not stay with the times, they cannot connect with their very modern students.

  3. ken

    And you say, “I kept thinking that the nature of the classroom and the lesson structures within were what needed to be changed”.

    True, but was this actually happening b/4 the technology entered the room? And I don’t mean a week or two before, but years before.

    Or is it possible that the presence of technology is finally generating this type of systemic change?

    I have teachers w/ interactive whiteboards, 25 laptops, webcams, digital cameras, web cams, and overhead projection units in their classes. They don’t use them. I ask them.

    “I can’t let the kids know that I don’t know everything.”

    Honest statement.

    Maybe ‘nature of the classroom and lesson structure’ is another way of avoiding the one item that needs a massive overhaul: teachers.

    Suddenly, the start of this new year seems gloomy.

  4. Graham Wegner

    It is a very good point that you make, Ken, that technology is the driver of systemic change. A very interesting conversation re: the place of some of those technologies is taking place over on Wes Fryer’s blog – some of the partipants’ points make me feel quite inadequate as an educator and somewhat phony as a change advocate. My staff are least using that we have available (not quite as plentiful as you describe) but it’s the learning that is designed using this technology that is of most importance. We don’t need technology just to mimic real life – we need technology because it will enable us to empower our students to learn in a way that wasn’t possible in the years gone by. Maybe part of it is that the passionate advocates are impatient for change – part of me thinks that many teachers will get there eventually – part of the evolutionary process that Chris Lehmann describes.

    I know that I reckon I need about a month off from actual teaching duties to shape up my own practice so that it actually aligns with the words that come out of my mouth and the views I espouse in my blog. Otherwise, things just feel like that commercial of building the jet as it flies.


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