Educational Technology and Worthwhile Work?

Interesting day last week. It  was the last hour on Friday afternoon, often a time when it is most difficult to create great learning opportunities for students, never mind the fact that we were working with 40 grade 2 students in the Learning Commons. They were excited and energetic, and Mike and I were sure we had lost our minds…

The school had just purchased a set of iPads with the intention utilize them to enhance student learning. We talked with the students and brought them in, then proceeded to collaboratively develop some good safety expectations for taking care of them, as the grade twos were the very first to utilize them.

All of a sudden, as we were getting ready to start on the task, one student blurted out “I wonder what games are on here…” At the moment I was minorly annoyed, but we continued to talk about utilizing comic life and photography to teach others in the school some of the safety and care expectations that we came up with. The students were very excited to get started and were on their way.

Now, just get to the end, it was fantastic and the kids were awesome for the end of a Friday afternoon. But over the last few days, I am now really pondering this comment made innocently by one of our Grade Twos.

Learning is supposed to be fun and engaging, but does that mean we just plunk a bunch of games onto an iPad and call it learning?

Learning is supposed to be exciting, but does that mean we need to learn physics through Angry birds?

Learning is supposed to be challenging and new, but does that mean we need an electronic toy or gadget to challenge our students?

Learning is supposed to be experimental in nature, what does that require an electronic device in order to happen?

What does learning need to look like when devices such as iPads, iPods and Laptops are readily available? How do we make sure students are doing worthwhile work, with or without educational technology enhancements?

These are all the questions I am playing with, especially as I consider in my mind the diversity of our students going from very highly able learners to students who have great difficulty understanding letter sound correspondences. Keeler School is only beginning to develop guidelines and understanding of how educational technology will be utilized in the  classroom and Learning Commons, and I have a feeling we are in for an interesting ride.

Stay tuned for further developments as we work hard at creating excellent learning opportunities and enhancing with educational technology. I think there will be some big learning the part of teachers, but on the part of our students as well since we hope to use educational technology in different ways than many students would use an iPad at home.

Knowing our amazing teachers, I have a feeling it’s going to be a wonderful experiment…

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2 Responses to Educational Technology and Worthwhile Work?

  1. Laurence says:

    Derek, one of your most thoughtful and reflective pieces yet. Nice work on writing such a critical (in the academic sense) post. I read it the whole way through – twice!

    Laurence

    • Thanks Laurence! I really like doing this blog as it is giving a space and forcing me into pondering and critically examining our processes around educational thinking. It has been fun and I am glad it is beneficial for others as well!
      D

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