What is my personal definition of educational technology? That is a great question and not something I have stopped to put much thought into before. When I think of my own elementary school experiences and educational technology these are the tools that come flashing back.
What did these tools provide me with? What did I learn? I remember sitting in the computer lab typing in rows of code to establish an end goal of watching a ball or a stick person walk across the screen. The little professor calculator was impressive as it gave you math questions to answer rather than you having to create your own. The days when the film projector was rolled into the classroom were always great days. I do remember receiving the established job of being the student who got to sit next to the projector and turn it off when the film was over so that it didn’t spin for too long. Did these tools impact my learning? In thinking about these memories from long ago I can say that technology provided me with excitement for learning. Jumping back to today, has that changed? What does educational technology provide us? Reflecting on those questions I can say that my definition of educational technology is technology that is used purposefully to facilitate and enhance learning.
As technology has changed so much over the years and with the changes that continue to happen, it was interesting to read the article The Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change by Neil Postman. He brought up some very interesting points to consider:
- All technological change is a trade-off.
- There is always winners and losers in technological change.
- Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea.
- Technological change is ecological.
- Technology tends to become mythic.
The points Postman makes are valid. One area that I instantly thought of relates to his first point of technological change being a trade-off. In terms of educational technology I often wonder if convenience at times is traded for privacy? How many times have we heard of someone promoting a really great app they found or a super easy to use website that will help students learn without having taken any time to investigate or learn about the terms of service or privacy policies? What exactly is a teacher agreeing to give up about their students in order to use the app or website? How much of a trade-off are we willing to sacrifice?
While reviewing the learning theories of behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism it was interesting to think about my own classroom practices. At some point in my career my classroom practices have been influenced by all three. Starting off as a new teacher I remember classroom management being such a focus and the techniques that were used were very much rooted in behaviourism. As I gained experience and participated in professional development my understanding and beliefs of learning changed. I would say that my shift to embracing a constructivist theory came from a deeper understanding of how to teach math. Using manipulatives and providing students with opportunities to interact and explore changed my views on learning and in turn changed how I taught.
While these learning theories were not new to me, how they relate to educational technology is interesting to consider. What does that mean for how we use educational technology in our classrooms?
In the video, Katia explained that our beliefs about knowledge, learning, and strategies for practice must align. Without that alignment, does the technology make a difference? I think that all too often technology is viewed as if it is being used then it is making a difference. As we are learning, there is so much more to consider. I believe that purposeful use of educational technology will facilitate and enhance student learning.