In watching this weeks videos I found myself interested in the topic of Game-Based Learning as it correlates to a workshop I have been attending on the importance of play in primary education. I often use games within my teaching to increase student engagement and provide a different avenue in which students learn various concepts. For example, in math, I use games as a station in which students are given access to a variety of online math games. Another example is using printed paper games as another station in which students can practice their skills. In using game play I’ve found that students are often more engaged and thoroughly enjoy the concept they’re practicing as opposed to simply writing out answers on a worksheet. This video focused on the concept of Game-Based Learning which is something I would like to explore within my MEd project as I am currently researching the benefits of Inquiry based learning. Through this research I have taken the approach of Genius Hour within my classroom. Game-Based learning may be a way in which my students demonstrates their understanding of their inquiry.
Furthermore, the concept of Appreciative Inquiry is a topic that directly correlates to my research topic. When watching the video about Appreciative Inquiry my mind immediately thought about my Genius hour and Growth Mindset. It sounds like Appreciate Inquiry is a combining of these two concepts. Within Genius hour as an inquiry based learning technique, students need to be taught how to handle the continual successes and failures of their projects. Inquiry projects are not smooth sailing and students often find certain concepts frustrating when they hit dead ends. Therefore, it is important to instill a work ethic that encourages a positive mindset and collaboration with others. In doing this, students may be able to look at situations from varying perspectives and to push past the immediate failure towards new understanding. In listening to this video, I want to look at the research behind a Growth Mindset approach and whether it can actually improve students work habits within inquiry based learning.
Overall, the videos continually touches on a similar point in that technology is not easily integrated into classrooms. In being an elementary school teacher it often takes more time to prepare the student to use the technology than for them to actually use it. By this I mean, teaching them how to type in order to research, teaching them how to navigate apps or the home screen. Although, this seems like a tedious or strenuous task, it is really important. It’s important because in order for students to interact with a source of knowledge such as technology they need to be taught at a young age how to maneuver it. Technology may not always be the center of the classroom but it is an important piece of the next generations reality. It is important for teachers to figure out how technology can work for them within their classroom and to make space for students to interact with it.
As an elementary school teacher, technology has had a tendency to be a focus of the teacher versus the students. A reason for this is because educational technology trends change so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. Also, it can be difficult to teach young students how to use technology in specific ways. More often than not, children are able to navigate technology through video game play. However, when it comes to using a source they are not familiar with it takes time to teach and learn. Something as simple as typing properly can take a large amount of time to teach and thus the debate of necessity arises.
In reading this weeks articles I found that the model of TPACK spoke more towards how I view technology as a third grade teacher. This model outlines the connections between technology, pedagogy and content knowledge. When integrating technology into the classroom one must ask the purpose for it. So when we combine technology as a way to teach content and improve our pedagogy it becomes more simplistic than overwhelming. In thinking about this model, I start to think about how I have integrated technology into my classroom. Technology has served as a tool within reading such as listening to stories that would otherwise not be available to students. It is also used in mathematics where students are able to play games that cover a variety of concepts as opposed to the paper and pencil games also provided.
Koehler and Mishra 2009, used the best example for explaining the multi use of technology by comparing it to whiteboards.
“For example, consider how whiteboards may be used in classrooms. Because a
whiteboard is typically immobile, visible to many, and easily editable, its uses in
classrooms are presupposed… However, it would be incorrect to say that there is only one way in
which whiteboards can be used. One has only to compare the use of a whiteboard in a
brainstorming meeting in an advertising agency setting to see a rather different use of
The SAMR model however offers the view that technology serves varying purposes. It allows us to think of the uses of technology and how learning can occur within each use. Technology is either a replacement for a traditional activity or the learning comes from the technological activity itself. Other then the breakdown of each use, the SAMR model failed to provide enough examples that would lead me to use the model within elementary school teaching. All the examples were from higher level education making me question its ability to be effective in lower grades.
When reading this weeks articles I found myself in a game of mental ping-pong. As I read Clark’s article, I struggle to see how technology does not allow for any learning gains. Then again, when reading Kozma’s article it seemed as though there was very little evidence provided that learning gains truly take place. Both articles were unable to sway me one way or the other. Instead I found myself watching a ball be hit back and fourth over a table asking myself: What is the role of technology in education?
Seeing as I did not agree with either of Clark’s or Kozma’s arguments I found myself aligning more with Becker who alludes that Clark or Kozma is entirely right or wrong but that each has a fundamental piece of the technological puzzle. From Clark I learned that that it is important as an educator to ask yourself the question of why. Why am I using this piece of technology and what am I hoping the students gain from it? From Kozma I furthered my own understanding that technology has a place in the classroom to increase student engagement.
I believe it is important that technology is infused into the classroom alongside well thought out instruction. I do not believe that these two entities are meant to be separate. Technology can offer students experiences they would not receive from regular instruction. An example being coding, students use technology to problem solve coding issues through game play. In doing this they are learning computer skills, problem solving skills and coding skills that can assist them in jobs they may seek in the future. Technology is a massive part of todays youth. Without any sort of technology within the classroom we lose a valuable ‘hook’ of instruction. Technology also allows students to work more independently on projects that are personalized to them. There is only one teacher in a classroom with only so much information available versus there being one on one computers or IPads that can provide superior information at a touch of a button.
This isn’t to say that instruction isn’t needed. Regular instruction is needed for all students in balance with technology because all students learn in a different way. The combination of technology and instruction allows for students to be given information or explore concepts in a vast number of ways. Furthermore, instruction allows a teachers personality to come through as they teach which is a often a large part of how students connect with their instructor. Human connection cannot be mimicked by technology. Thus, technology can provide students with an engaging source of learning from games to research. There are countless options in the field of technology that allow students to be able to learn in a way that suits them.
Technology has always been a hot topic of conversation in that it can often be presented as a dichotomy. Being that it is either a distraction or an enhancement. I believe that it is actually somewhere in the middle. Technology can provide society with opportunities that we have previously lacked such as the ability to connect with people who are remote or learn and discover things in a quickly and timely manner and even the ability to personalize the way we teach. Yet, technology has also progressed so quickly that is has provided many challenges to the common everyday teacher such as myself. When my students think of technology they immediately think video games. Although, some video games can provide educational knowledge and learning to students, if not watched closely I have found that students become exposed to concepts such as violence that they are not mentally able to comprehend.
Another challenge that is presented with technology when it comes to teaching and teachers is the accessibility, knowledge base and the purpose to its use. When I think of the purpose technology has within my classroom, I think about how my students can use it to further understandings and practice skills. An example would be using math games as a vehicle for students practicing math skills and concepts without relying on worksheets. This provides them with a ‘fun’ activity, where they focus on a task independently for a certain period of time. Furthermore, mathematical games can also provide specific goals for the students to accomplish. Similarly, in the article Implications of Shifting Technology in Education by Janet Holland and John Holland, speak to the use of technology in language arts in that “typing electronically is quick, voice command typing is even faster. In addition, digital writing offers the support of immediate spelling and grammar checking. It is not fool proof and still requires a good foundation in writing basics” (p.2) The concept of using technology in writing is difficult for me because although it is providing students with a quicker way to communicate their thoughts, I start to wonder what the purpose is. Is it to communicate quicker? Why would quicker communication be needed? By using technology in this manner, does it take away from the students ability to physically write properly? Does it increase or decrease the ability of the student to recognize grammar and spelling mistakes on their own and how to fix them? Also, when we talk about the use of technology over traditional methods does it change the way our brains interpret knowledge? When I am reading and physically making notes with a paper and pen that process, along with the physical aspect of writing the letters, helps to solidify the concept in my mind. When I type, I am usually faster but every key feels the exact same thus concepts are not as solidified because it does not have the same physical feeling. Lambda Solutions states in their article The Biggest Education Technology Trends for 2019 that
“The truth is, the best educational technology doesn’t replace the traditional classroom, but enhances it. Through the latest educational innovations, teachers and students now have better access to quality resources and effective learning methods than ever before.”
Throughout my readings I am starting to learn that technology doesn’t need to be feared by the average, not so tech savvy teacher, but simply embraced and explored. Realistically all we can do it try to provide our students with ways to learn and understand the technology that is available to them and how we can use that technology for positive changes in our lives and the world.