Technology: Where are we now? Where should we be?

Tech breaks? I immediately thought that a tech break was time away from technology! What does that say about the media influences that are around us.  It got me thinking that there is so much information telling use that screen time is bad and that not allowing your children a device is good parenting (I mean the Royals don’t) that perhaps this is the reasons behind why tech integration is still not second nature.  Perhaps we are frightened to give children more device time – to feed their addiction.

“Rosen calls it a tech break. But rather than taking a break from technology, you give yourself permission to embrace technology for a particular amount of time, be it one minute or 15. “It works amazingly,” he says.” Barshay, 2011

In Dwyer’s (2011) article it would appear that she is advocating for tech breaks where students actually stop what they are doing in your room and they check their social media – this might be a good thing as it is backed by research from Larry Rosen, a psychology professor.  However as I read through the article I got the impression that it was rather ‘tongue in cheek’ and really she was dismissing this idea as ‘worth a shot’,

“…technological distractions aren’t going away any time soon, so it might not be a bad idea for teachers and professors to give students a mini-break—just a minute or two—to text or check their email every once in awhile. It might not be the ideal solution, but if it helps tech-addicted students refocus on what’s going on, it’s worth a shot.” Dwyer, 2011

Oh I can feel my bloody boiling!

We need to accept that technology is now a part of our life, whether that’s for good or bad! When this happens then we can move on.  Move on to using technology in a positive and intuitive way.  The YIS presentation makes some fantastic parallels with the way that students communicated in the past and how they spent their time watching TV, talking on the phone, passing notes in class – things that were very visible.  And maybe that’s what we are fighting against – the fact that kids of today can be so terribly covert, it’s not obvious who they are talking to, we don’t know what they are watching and notes can be so easily deleted – thats if we can figure out which platform they have been sent on in the first place.

So I thought I would look for some youtube video to support the idea that allowing students their ‘tech fix’ is a good thing – could I find anything, not really.  I found TED talks on “A year offline”, “How I Quit Social Media”, I found animations on “How your Cellphone in changing you”, Talks on “5 Tricks to Beat your Addiction to Technology” – nothing really on how it’s great to take a break and look at your device!

These thoughts all lead up to how I see the use of devices in my own classroom.  I have several different situations to reflect upon, with both adults and students.  In the elementary classroom I would allow free use of iPads, depending on the lesson and the purpose for use.  Students would just help themselves, whilst tagging on – ‘I’m just using the iPad for…’ In my visual arts lessons the use of devices are very structured, as whole class sets need to be booked.  When teaching Middle and High School I taught design and the use of devices was essential.  Therefore the best reflection I can make is on my homeroom teaching.  I would look at lessons and really think about how I could make them as interesting and as close to real life as possible, this occasionally required the use of a device.  Working on graphs or angles for example.  When in real life have you ever drawn a graph? I can’t say that I have.  My first port of call would always be Excel, enter a table and create a chart – so why not just do that with my class? How much easier is it to watch the turtle in LOGO turn and think about how far that angle is? Both still sitting within the ‘Modification’ step on the SAMR model.  However there were times when I used simulations to learn about Weather Phenomenons, looking at the different measures that can be taken to prevent a disaster happening (http://www.stopdisastersgame.org/), hopefully moving further into ‘redefinition’.

But in light of this course I am really forced into thinking about how tech integration happens in our school.  Where are we now, where should we be and how are we going to bridge the gap and support our teachers.

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