“technology has changed from being a peripheral factor to becoming more central in all forms of teaching.” (Bates, 2014)
When I think of my own definition of educational technology, I suppose that it is all technology that can be used for an educational purpose. Whether that is embedding technology into your classroom through whole class instructional videos, interactive whiteboards/smartboard activities, games, etc or utilizing iPads and laptops to enhance learning. Anything that involves technology and increases learning in the classroom would fall under the term educational technology. But we would also have to look at the definition of technology. Any tool such as a chalkboard could be categorized as technology. In Bates (2014) article, A Short History of Educational Technology, he taught through the history of development of oral communication, written communication, broadcasting and video, computer technologies, and social media. Each of these categories are used today in learning and within the classroom.
Of course not all learning online takes place within the classroom today. This became very clear this past year as more students learned in an online/blended/ asynchronous/synchronous way. Educational technology has been a part of all students lives in some form or another this past year. It has grown and evolved more than ever. Educators learned and adapted to this new way of teaching quickly. Educators became tech savvy as they attempted to engage students in a way that was not familiar.
Before taking EdTech courses, my view around technology in the classroom was not very great. I didn’t see the benefit, I thought students spent enough time on video games. I felt like they needed to rest their eyes and be present in the moment. A big lesson I learned was the importance of teaching students about media balance. Technology is not going away and is a big part of the world. Educators need to teach students how to properly utilize and navigate the big world of the web. Common Sense Education has been an extremely helpful resource in helping me have conversations about technology and media with my students. Not all parents are aware of what their children are doing on the internet because it evolves so fast. Educating students to be able to make good choices and be safe on devices is crucial in our world today. Teaching the concepts of digital citizenship and media literacy can easily be embedded into instruction and tie into curriculum.
Reflecting on the technological change that has happened just in my lifetime is grand. Every time something new is introduced, humans seem reluctant to change. It could be as far back as the act of writing, as Bates (2014) mentions in his article to the blackboard being placed in classrooms. There are always debates and pros/cons to new ideas. Educators know that all students learn in a variety of ways. Every time there is a new concept or idea in teaching, many teachers are hesitant of the change. The way my instruction has developed over the years has been adapted as I have learned about different students needs. Modelling is my number one instructional strategy that I use today in my teaching. Using the model ‘I do’, ‘We do’ and ‘You do’ is how I deliver most subjects to my students. I learned quickly at the beginning of my career that my students needed to be engaged in a variety of ways and be able to make connections to learning. Regarding instruction, Ertmer and Newby (2013) assert that “It should organize information in such a manner that learners are able to connect new information with existing knowledge in some meaningful way” (p.54). I learned this early on in my career while teaching reading. When young students were reading a book with me that they had no prior knowledge to or were not able to connect to, of course they displayed no comprehension. For example, if I was doing a reading assessment and the student was reading a book on camping but had never been camping, it wouldn’t be a good representation of their reading skills. Learning must be meaningful to students and make sense in their lives. Technology is meaningful to many students, it is a significant part of their lives. Most students are able to connect to technology which is why it has become a big part of my teaching.
How do we continue to keep up with the evolution of technology and not allow it to run our lives? Have we already gotten to that point without recognizing it? Postman (1998) states that “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it” (p. 5).
Who holds the power of knowledge? Today it is also important to be able to determine misinformation and/or ‘fake news’. This is a skill educators must be teaching students. It is hard to know what is true when it comes to the knowledge fed to us online. Is it real or is someone in power controlling what is allowed to be known? Postman (1998) regarding the age of information that was approaching asserted that, “This age of information may turn out to be a curse if we are blinded by it so that we cannot see truly where our problems lie. That is why it is always necessary for us to ask of those who speak enthusiastically of computer technology, why do you do this? What interests do you represent? To whom are you hoping to give power? From whom will you be withholding power?” (p.3). Being a critical thinker is so important and educating students to ask questions is key. Have we allowed technology to take over? To be in control of what we can learn today?
In Katia’s lecture the question was posed if technology makes a difference if the beliefs about knowledge or learning remain the same? Technology has made a great impact on knowledge and learning. We as humans and educators need to learn to keep up with the ever changing ways of knowing, learning and technology. They are clearly linked together and I believe will not stop evolving.
“Learning theories are concerned with the actual process of learning, not with the value of what is being learned” (Siemens, 2005, p. 3). My teaching journey has progressed towards the value of what is being taught. What is most important? How do I consider that? I am passionate about teaching social-emotional learning to my grade 2/3’s. I believe through my experience that this is the most important part of my day. Having ‘mindful minutes’ and taking time to check in with our emotions and needs allows us to be able to learn. I find that more valuable and effective than many items I am mandated to teach.
Knowledge and learning has become more accessible due to technology. Anyone can look up the curriculum from anywhere in the world. One can take an online class from anywhere that has internet access. There is a world of possibility through the access of technology. I remember how exciting it was to unplug the landline and hook up the internet. It was slow and loud but amazing that we could type in any question and get an answer. Before this I believed libraries held all the knowledge. Encyclopedias were a common house hold item. I now am looking at these critically and am thinking about who wrote encyclopedias and why that knowledge was deemed correct? I would have to look at an encyclopedia again and analyse this. As I stated above there are many ways to gain knowledge now. We can learn from each other online through twitter, blogs, community of practices, etc. Siemen (2005) states “Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime” (p.1). Learning happens all around us in an informal way. Formal education is not the only way people are gaining knowledge today.
Discussing technology with teachers now at the end of their career, they would have never imagined how much technology is now incorporated in their classroom. This shift has been huge especially in the last year due to Covid. I know my beliefs around education has changed with each year I have taught and will continue to do so. What is deemed important to teach pupils is also changing. Like the need to start teaching media literacy and digital citizenship at a young age. Coding has become a part of many classrooms as well. My students seem to pick up on the concept of coding so easily as it is a part of their everyday online lives. “These tools are needed in this digital age for students to flourish” (Siemens, 2005, p. 7). My own teaching theory has become farther away from the curriculum with each year I teach. Learning to decolonize the classroom and education has geared me away from what was deemed important at the beginning of my career. I now ask why certain subjects and topics are necessary and where did that come from?
The origins of educational technology have drastically changed. Collaboration is a major key in educational technology today. Educators are able to connect with other teachers around the globe. Professional Development is offered all over the internet. Resources are easily accessible. Community of Practices, conferences and networking all can happen online. The shift has many benefits for teachers and students.
Learning about the beginning of educational technology and the development through the years, I am curious to see how it will continue to evolve. My own teaching practices and philosophy has evolved with time and experience and will continue to.
- What changes do you believe we will see in the next 5, 10, or 20 years regarding educational technology and learning?
- What predictions can you make about the shift in education by the end of your own career?
- How has educational technology changed since the beginning of your career?
“Thus it is fair to describe the impact of the Internet on education as a paradigm shift, at least in terms of educational technology. We are still in the process of absorbing and applying the implications.” (Bates, 2014)
Thank you for reading my thoughts,
Bates, T. (2014). A short history of educational technology. https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/12/10/a-short-history-of-educational-technology/.
Ertmer, Peggy A, & Newby, Timothy J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.
Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. Denver, Colorado, 28.
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. https://jotamac.typepad.com/jotamacs_weblog/files/Connectivism.pdf