Saturday, January 19, 2013

Should We Use Digital Technology in Elementary Education?

Last week I happened to be talking about technology to a teacher when someone (not a k12 educator) intervened and said in complete confidence: "I do not know of any benefit of using technology in the classroom."

I will admit that at times I have my doubts about technology integration. There are technologies I find useless for most users (e.g. smartboards) and others I find incredibly powerful (iPads). What struck me, however, was the complete confidence- of someone who is not a classroom teacher.

I am pretty sure that when the piano was introduced, someone stood up and said that he does not see any benefit of using this new technology over older instruments. Probably stating that such technology brings disorganization and laziness to peoples way of thinking about music...

So here are my top eight reasons to integrate technology in the classroom:

1. This is what students will encounter in the world. Students who will not be exposed to technology in school will be at a great disadvantage especially if they grow up in families that cannot fill up this void- i.e. students at-risk.
2. Differetiation: The ability to tailor instruction to student needs.
3. To teach students to find and sort through information for quality and validity- as we shifted into the knowledge economy finding information is no longer the challenge. Instead it is the ability to filter relevant information.
4. Become careful consumers of media, services, and products.
5. Become global citizens communicating with people from different locations and cultures
6. Be able to answer questions about facts and basic knowledge quickly so we can move to problem solving and real world applications.
7. The ability to represent the world and learning through multiple media products.
8. Teaching students about digital social spaces.

The way I see it, technology is here part of our daily lives. Our role in universities is to explore its impact and design evidence based ways of using it in positive ways.

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