Technology for Technology’s Sake

I recently came across this article regarding technology in my Zite magazine from Education Weekly by Paul Barnwell. I agree with its premise, but it brings me back to the old saying: “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” (even though I can’t stand that phrase. Who would do that?)

To me, teachers use technology to serve any of the three following purposes: 1) to enhance students’ learning. 2) to replace and/or make learning easier 3) to make learning “fun” and more interesting from their perspective.

1) Teachers that use technology to enhance student’s learning are the ones that get it. Finding interactive maps of the American Revolution will help a student understand the course of the war better than a map in a textbook. Using Twitter as a means to connect with students outside of the classroom for retweeting relevant content that connect with what you’re studying or what you have studied is a great way to bring the content you’re learning into their “stream of consciousness” mindset.
This is where the article falters. This is what Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are good for. While I absolutely would not recommend a teacher becoming friends with their students on Facebook (or follow students’ Twitter feeds), a teacher can create a fan page on Facebook to connect a class outside of school. I post my videos on YouTube for students to view as a refresher on a topic or to catch up if they were absent. These are both examples of moving learning toward being 24/7 and disproving the notion that learning only takes place inside of a brick-and-mortar building during certain times of the day.

2) Technology certainly makes learning easier, if you know how to use it. Those that move to paperless classrooms aren’t necessarily hampering their learning, but simply making it easier (and more environmentally friendly). I post many things on my Google Docs account for students to view if they forget a group they have been assigned or what their topic is. I then post the link on our class Moodle page. Always available, 24/7.

3) If teachers are only using technology for this purpose, be warned. Technology should not be a gimmick that grabs students’ attention purely for the sake of being the “cool teacher.” In Daniel Willingham’s book Why Don’t Students Like School, an excellent read, he states that

Whatever students think about is what they will remember…memory is the residue of thought.

In the case of Mr. Barnwell’s article, will students remember the content they were have supposed to have been exiting with or will they be more enamoured by using their cell phones in class?

One cannot simply say all technology is good or all technology is bad. Technology in the classroom is like fire. If one can harness its power and use it to enhance learning, it can be a very powerful tool. If someone uses it who doesn’t know how, they’ll end up getting burned.


Formal Introductions

Good evening. Soon…I finally decided to hop aboard the blog train and start one of my own. There are many other great blogs out there (a couple that inspire me are Web 2.0 Classroom and Free Tech 4 Teachers), but something I really miss in life is writing. I’ve written professionally in the past (if you call writing a free-lance column in the local paper as a teen professional), but now that I am a teacher, I feel as though I could contribute something to other teachers out there and grow with them.

So allow me to introduce myself: I’m Scott. I recently completed my 3rd year of teaching in Fort Wayne, IN. I have taught US History to juniors and US Government to seniors for the past 3 years. Ive recently come across a new challenge and next year I will be taking over my school’s psychology courses. PSYC was my favorite subject in college (Purdue University graduate), so I could not be more thrilled to take over this class.

This blog will develop and morph as it finds it’s legs, but I am picturing it focusing on teaching US History, Psychology, a little Government, educational technology, and anything else I find interesting in education.

I am on Twitter: @MrScottSnyder

I am on YouTube: AmazngSnyderMan

I hope you will follow my adventure into teaching.