I continue to ponder every day the use of technology in the classroom. Yes, there are distinct advantages, ways in which technology has enabled my writing students to access information/websites that offer strategies for improving their writing. Much of this technology I would use of my own accord simply because I try to stay abreast of best practice methodology. We produce digital stories and podcasts, we collaborate on Google Docs, we offer snippets of writing through a discussion panel where students can comment, and we make use of quick access to student and professional writing models as a way of improving our own pieces. But when technology feels forced on us, and we’re constantly asked how, when, and where we’re using it, I continue to wonder who’s driving this bus? The number of edtech jobs seems to be exponentially increasing. On a limited school budget, each time we add yet another technology consultant, administrator, or IT support person, it seems that our class sizes get bigger. Job security means shoving more tech requirements at us at the very same time we’re also reading about the negative side of technology, both in and out of the classroom. Here are three recent articles that address some issues we should all be thinking about: A NYT article from a few days ago Laptops are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting; another recent article showing the infiltration of edtech companies How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom; and an article recently sent to our staff from our VP The Distracted Student Mind: Enhancing its Focus and Attention.
Our students need breaks from technology. Yet we’re never asked “How often are your students engaging in non-tech activities? How often and for how long are they asked to focus deeply and think critically without a screen?” I have never been asked either of those questions. I’m only asked how often and in how many different ways I am engaging students in technology. Perhaps down the road, when more research comes in, will someone ask about tech breaks instead of tech use.