Sixth Anniversary of Teaching & Technology

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of this blog. When I first started the blog, it was supposed to be a documentation of my journey of becoming a teacher, as I had just decided to go back and get my master’s degree. Therefore, I set the blog up as a simple self-hosted blog on my portfolio website.

Six year’s later, Teaching & Technology has its own domain and is less about my personal journey towards the education field and more about education and education technology. I am happy with the direction and momentum of this blog. I do wish I had more time to write, but life happens.

Let’s break down some fast facts and stats:

 

Now, a list for some of my personal favorite posts (in no particular order):

Oh there are tons more, but it’s safe to say, if it looks like I took a lot of time to investigate something and have several citations…I enjoyed writing the post.

So, Happy Sixth Birthday to Teaching & Technology! Let me know what your favorite posts are in the comments.

Help Me Out: Tell Me What You Want to Read About

I apologize for the lack of posts on Teaching & Technology. I can give you a list of excuses, but they would be simply that, excuses.

Let’s review them, shall we?

  1. I was busy with work
  2. I wanted to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix
  3. I wanted to relax and spend time with friends/family
  4. I was on vacation
  5. I didn’t have anything to write about
  6. I felt I was posting too many guest posts and infographics and not enough of my own content

See, excuses? And in fact, they are the same excuses that teachers hear from students. Okay, maybe not the guest post/infographics excuse, but the rest of them, teachers hear time and time again.

In fact, I even thought about going on hiatus and not writing for a while. Except…I’ve kind of already done that. It’s been about 4 months since I’ve written anything. Sure, I’ve read books and I could have published reviews on them. I could have started a new section and publish reviews on movies that were inspired by books. I could have downloaded random apps on my iPad and published reviews. I could have read the hundreds of emails send by the Department of Education or other organizations and wrote what I thought. I could have gone through my feeds on any number of social media sites and re-posted infographics.

But I didn’t.

When I really think about why I haven’t published anything it all comes back to a lack of inspiration. There was a time when I would stay up too late to finish a blog post. There was a time I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and type out the outrage that I felt. I don’t know where that inspiration has run off to, but I’m going to find it. And you’re going to help me.

See, just like a teacher who asks the students what they want to learn about, I’m going to do the same with you, readers.

So tell me, in the blog comments, on the Facebook page, Tumblr page, etc., what content do you want to see on Teaching & Technology? Do you have an iPad app that you are dying to get a review of? A book you want an opinion on? A movie you’d like me to watch and review? A burning question you want answered (with research!)? What interests you in the field of education and/or ed tech?

I’m also going to be super strict on guest posting. I’ve noticed the majority of people submitting guest posts just want to post something to get a link back to their site. I’m all for giving someone a platform to publish, but I’ve been less than thrilled with the content of the submissions. One even tried to sell me on the benefits of cheating…but it wasn’t satirical!

I look forward to your comments and inspiration.

Article: “Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach”

Published today, on Education Week: “Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach“.

The article explains that while technology is in the classroom and schools, many teachers have not embraced the full vision set forth by edtech enthusiasts. What’s the holdup?

  1. Teacher beliefs/philosophies regard effective instruction
  2. Inadequate professional development on new technologies and technology integration in the classroom.
  3. School polices that don’t encourage effective experimenting by teachers in order to fully explain, troubleshoot, and use technology to its full potential for their particular subject
  4. Teachers use technology for teacher-driven instruction rather than student-driven instruction (i.e. use if for themselves or an end-unit project rather than have students discover and learn content for the first time using technology).
  5. Standardized testing reinforces a more teacher-driven instruction style.

So in other words, while the new, hip teachers want to integrate technology, the older, veteran teachers discourage that behavior because “that’s not how we teach here”. This idea is then reinforced through inadequate professional development and a lack of support by administration. Therefore, they revert back to teacher-driven instruction while they dream of student-driven instruction in order keep their job that is dependent on standardized test scores. In 5 years, these new teachers will no longer be okay with the suppression of expression and desire for student-driven instruction over standardized testing any longer; they will end up resigning from teaching. And, they still will have a mountain of student debt left to pay back.

It is this sad story that accelerated my leaving the classroom and tutoring privately. During my classroom observations and student teaching, I felt that edtech was encouraged, but instruction was still teacher-driven because that’s how teaching works. It’s how you prove you’re actually “teaching”. I felt I was doing a ton of work and the students were just sitting there, spacing out and doodling. A few students participated, but most were just conditioned to just sit back and let “school” happen. They put in their 6 hours hours of doing whatever the teacher wanted so their parents would get off their backs about not getting a 4.0 and that’s it. There was very little smiling, laughter, or student-driven learning. In fact, few were actually there because they wanted to.

I hope enough new teachers stick it out until student-driven instruction with technology is the norm. I also hope that veteran teachers either embrace student-driven instruction with technology or move out of the way in favor of change. Edtech is here to stay and it needs to be integrated.

Guest Post: Technology in the Classroom; Where Should the Line be Drawn

Guest Post by: Will Clevett

Having laptops and tablets in classrooms has been a muchNo Laptops debated subject, with many studies done on both sides of the fence, showing both the benefits and drawbacks from students having computers in class. The potential benefits are already being used to great effect in forms such as distance learning. For future uses of technology, we could find adaptive teaching techniques allowing children to effectively have their own digital tutor which can adapt and change the level and techniques being used to help that child learn, based on their responses to previous work, and apply pressure to continue stretching the boundaries of their learning.

Many naysayers say that technology provides too many distractions and makes people less knowledgeable, as they rely on their technology to store data rather than their memory. However, this is an age-old argument which was first recorded in approximately 370 BC by Plato in his conversation with Socrates, quoting an Egyptian king:

“For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality” ~ Plato

Naturally this isn’t about computers or the internet; this was about the downsides to writing and the change that the written word presented to the world, though it’s also disconcertingly easy to apply to modern trends in technology, with the rise of the internet and mobile devices allowing people to connect constantly. While the above statement appears to have been wrong, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain so for the internet age.

The key distinction is the difference between using technology to support learning efforts and using that reason as an excuse to keep up to date on Facebook, and it may be true that having such easy access to social media platforms and other sources of information may just be too distracting. Google have reported that the average Android user checks their phone around 150 times a day and, despite being a middleweight phone user, I can’t deny that my usage fits into this ballpark.

This has led to many teachers banning technology in their classrooms, most commonly the mobile phone for the distractions they can cause everybody else, but following a study done by Professor Cliff Nass in 2009, it actually looks like people who try to multitask with technology are actually worse at concentrating on any of the tasks than people who don’t try to multitask. This study even led to a lecturer in social media (of all things) at New York University banning laptops and tablets in their classes unless actually required for the work.

The fact is that, for most people, computers are an everyday part of life and, as such, this should be reflected in teaching as it has been. The growth of technology has been especially helpful to many further education institutions, such as universities, allowing many students to remote control equipment from half a world away. This gives students opportunities they otherwise simply wouldn’t have had. For example, astronomers often require facilities a long way from light pollution and they may often need to take measurements from the other hemisphere, which is all now possible with the internet. Such skills are very transferable as well, with most jobs requiring proficiency with computers, at the very least, and many jobs in industrial computing requiring the remote access of equipment.

So at the end of the day, it looks like technology is going to be a massively important tool going forward in teaching at all levels. It is, however, also something which will need to be used responsibly and innovatively to structure learning rather than as a quick solution to problems.

Guest Post: EdTech Tools in Higher Education

Guest Post By: Trisha Mukerjee

“EdTech is the study and the ethical practice of learning and improving performance by using, creating and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

As the world evolves in the virtual hemisphere. The education system of the world also joins the bandwagon. The concept of EdTech has finally reached the higher education sector. Colleges are making sure that they incorporate more and more technology into their curriculum. From using digital devices and incorporating digital badges as their core marking scene. Universities at a global level are striving towards the digital era.

Check the infographic to know more about the various tools of EdTech and why is EdTech required.

shiksha study abroad edtech infographic

 

 

 

trisha


Author Bio:
Trisha is a professional writer and has been writing on a variety of topics. She is an ardent reader, a traveler and a passionate photographer. She wants to explore the world and write about whatever comes across her way.

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“14 Things that are obsolete in 21st century schools”

The following article was published by Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson, an Icelandic elementary teacher & Entrepreneur, on his blog, www.ingvihrannar.com.



Guest Post: Why use of mobile technology for the purpose of teaching is injurious to education?

Guest Post by: Joseph Porter

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when education was strictly classroom-based and students had to sit up straight in class, and pretend to listen to boring, long drawn, winding and tedious lectures recited by dreary and ill-kept lecturers. There was no technology that could be used to record these lectures in their mobile phones for future hearing, or the use of laptops by which the proceedings could be captured by the webcam and used later for studies. All students could do was to hastily scribble notes on some paper notepads and perhaps stuff it into their pockets to be rummaged later. Use of classroom technology during those times was something unheard of. But the passage of time and evolving technology has changed all that. Nowadays the drab blackboards and chalk/duster have given place to neat and portable Slide Presentations in Power Point, and even in the event of absence of a professor, his recorded lecture speeches could be played in classroom that could cover most of the period session. Mobiles, Personal Digital Assistants(PDA’s) and nano laptops could cover most of the lectures without much efforts and need to stay focused listened to every syllable uttered by the honorable professor, could now well be the job of  the PDA, player or mobile recorder and not that of the student.

However, all these modern, innovative and state-of-the-art technology has indeed vitiated and destroyed the very essence of teaching and learning. Education today stands essentially commoditized and stripped it of even the last vestiges of any active intellectual or educational pursuit of lasting value, for both educators and the educated. Technology is indeed for the benefit of technology and not for the benefit of education.

One of the pleasures and lasting effects of gaining education has indeed been its rigors and rules, the robust and unyielding edifice of academic honesty, discipline and values for which students flocked to classrooms to lend their eyes and ears to masterpiece lectures by world-renowned teachers and professors. While there were teachers who put them to sleep in the classroom, there were also others whose powerful delivery, style and content values, kept them riveted to their seats till the last syllable was uttered. It left them begging for more, perhaps the next time round.

Indeed, technology has made learning a more mechanized, easier and convenient form of gaining knowledge but has indeed made it less effective and efficient. The student-teacher communication has lowered considerably, the rote system which was a bane of classroom teaching has been popularized and in short, the very values that education stood for, is gradually, but unmistakably getting eroded, slowly but surely.

It would not be surprising to find, with the advancement of high-tech applications in the domain of education, to have robots instead of professors in the not-too-distant future, who could not only be programmed to deliver lectures for hours together, but also do it without batting an eyelid or twitch a muscle.

The moot question is- Is this true education, warts and all, or is this just commoditization of the critical learning process with a great deal of bane and very little benefits, especially for the taught? Education does need to reinvent itself, dissociate itself from technology and offer original, pristine and wholesome renditions that benefit all that matters.

 

About author:

Joseph Porter is a freelance writer and authentic essay writers in USA with over 14 year’s experience. She enjoys writing about current trends and innovations in education, technology and traveling.

Technology-Use Classroom Policies: Let the Students Decide

Are you in favor of the zero-tolerance, paper and pencil only policy? Or, do you take the-more-the-merrier approach? Something in between?

Technology use in the classroom is the bane of many a teacher’s existence. Teachers struggle with the excellent benefits that technology can provide and the tempting distractions it allows.

So what are the benefits? Note-taking. Reference a large volume of text without the weight. Disability support. Educational support apps/programs. Email. Cloud storage and collaboration.

And the tempting distractions? Let me count the ways…social media, games, internet memes, non-educational apps/programs, text messaging. Even beneficial things can become a distraction, for example email and cloud storage. Students could be working on homework for one class while ignoring the teacher of the class they are currently in. When students snap back to attention, they ask the same questions that have just been asked because they were not listening. Precious class time is wasted in repetition. Then, the students who were paying attention get bored by the repetition and then become distracted by their technological device of choice.

So what is a teacher to do? Let the students decide.

Seriously.

Create a document in Google docs that all students can edit. Give the students a one week deadline to edit policies and consequences as they see fit. Discuss with your students the conundrum you face with technology–your goals versus its distractions.

This will allow the students to feel their desire to use technology is respected. It will invite students to police each other.

Of course, this may not work. Teachers may need to reserve the right to veto outlandish policies or enforce accountability measures. It all really depends on your students. However, if you have found your blanket policies to be ineffective at curbing distractions, perhaps the best strategy is to go straight to the source for feedback.