Monday, February 7, 2011

New Technologies in the Classroom

Last week we discussed the use of new technologies in the classroom. This could be anything from a SmartBoard to cell phones to iPads. The amount of new technologies available is staggering. Some people, especially teachers, would argue that education is adopting technology too quickly whereas others firmly believe that we need to incorporate as much technology into the classroom as possible. I'm a little torn on the matter. I can see how use of technologies such as SmartBoards and iPads could be beneficial to our students but other issues arise such as higher costs and ethical issues. The school that I am student teaching at has a laptop cart that moves from classroom to classroom and I think the laptops are assigned to a handful of students to share. These students are not, however, allowed to take the laptops home and the Internet at the school does have a blocker for sites such as e-mail, and Facebook. There is also a computer lab at the school equipped with top notch Macs but I get the feeling the students prefer to use the laptops. I think this is a great use of technology as it's fully monitored and the students can't really get themselves into any trouble. But with technologies such as cell phones and iPads, I think more ethical issues could potentially arise.
Most schools have a ban on cell phones as they feel they are distracting to a student's learning. I agree with this 100% and I wonder if allowing them in the class for educational purposes would cause more issues than it would solve. I've heard of some teachers, more specifically professors, who have used cell phones to get students to text in their answers to an online poll. While this is a good way to anonymously get students to participate, this also gives them the opportunity to use their cell phones in class for non-educational purposes. As far as iPads are concerned, I know there are some fabulous Apps available and it is an incredibly intuitive piece of equipment if you know what you're doing. But there are also some ridiculous Apps available that I would argue have no value whatsoever. And I think it would be hard to ensure that students stay on task, even if they are working in small groups using one iPad. The newness of this particular technology is a little worrisome to me and I'm not sure how I would best use it.
I really like the idea of the SmartBoard but I think it some ways it's a glorified white board. The challenge with that particular technology is using it in a way that is both creative and intuitive, not simply using it because it's there. I haven't had the opportunity to use a SmartBoard in a classroom yet but I would love the opportunity to work with one and find unique ways to incorporate it into my teaching.

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