Thursday, September 25, 2014

Teaching and Technology

      I have never been the biggest fan of technology. When I was younger my siblings would play video games or computer games, while I only turned the computer on to write stories or play solitaire. As I grew up this stayed about the same. I got my first phone sophomore year of high school and then never really used it until the end of senior year (my friends would call the house because that was the more reliable way to reach me). It's not that I don't appreciate technology or am bad with technology; I can learn things pretty quickly. I've just always had a slight disinterest towards it.

    Thinking about the use of technology in my future classroom, online activities and web-based programs, I leaned toward the side of no. I feel like there is a lot to said for doing things by hand. But the world is changing. While teachers of the past did not have access to such things, I will. Using sites like Desmos and programs such as Geogebra have shown me technology has a lot to offer a math classroom. Students can experiment with graphing equations, how to reflect/translate/transform them. Data collection can be increasingly simplified. There is an abundance of resources for activities and projects. Technology has the ability to help introduce students to new, difficult to grasp ideas, providing a transition into the topic. Students are able to make references to real situations and see the actual motion a graph is depicting.

   So my mind has changed. However, along with this desire to incorporate technology, which can do amazing things, I still have some hesitance. Yes students are seeing ideas in new ways, and yes they can work at their own pace, and yes they get the chance to explore and discover on their own. Yet, if not careful, the message and ideas you are hoping students to see will become lost. Some of the activities - and I know I have not seen them all - were fun and provide a good introduction to a topic; however, they felt semi-easy. I did not feel I was presented with a challenge or something asking me to think deeply and critically. And this is what I think is truly important. I see technology is helpful, but without in-depth discussions to follow up or asking students to create something of their own (to work through the process of solving a complex problem), it is not going to be used at it's full potential. We need to use technology to challenge our students, not just simplify how things can be done.

1 comment:

  1. First off, I really liked your post. I've found a fair number of people tend to look at the issue of whether or not to use technology as solely technology versus no technology at all. In fact, my calculus teacher never let us touch a calculator. I tend to agree that something is to be said for doing work by hand, and I think not being allowed to use a calculator helped me understand the material better. Your post did a nice job of showing benefits to both sides, and I found your thoughts to be very reasonable. There's a pretty interesting TED talk from the creator of Wolfram Alpha - you might want to check it out:

    Although I didn't agree with some of the things he said, he still has an interesting perspective (from the side of technology-heavy teaching) and definitely has some good points to consider.