Friday, January 27, 2012

Does technology have to be engaging and entertaining?

So I came across this article which discusses how schools are behind in utilizing the skills todays students have with digital technology.  For the most part, I do agree.  I've always thought that when we meet students half-way, or even part way, we are doing them a great service by a.) acknowledging them (you'd be surprised, many teachers don't come CLOSE to doing this) and b.) we are making what seems practical to them a learning experience.

I really liked this article, because it showed how there can be educational value in texting, tweeting and social networking.  Like the author, I balked when my administration tried to "shut down" the internet or (worse) tell me I only had the intranet to use. (ew!)  Overall, Luscre makes some great points and provides some practical examples of how instructors can teach using these technologies. My big beef with the article, however (besides the over-used OMG! in the title) is that he keeps referring to these as fun and engaging methods for teaching.  While I think many students would be engaged and maybe even have fun, I worry when technology used the hook "fun" to entice students and educators.  As an educator and as an eductor of educators (got that?), I clearly believe that if students are engaged that they will benefit.  But what I cannot tolerate is the label of FUN that is assumed when one uses technology.  (I really don't like absolutes like that, because it also infuriates me when people identify technolgy with the word "trouble.") 

I guess I'm on the soapbox regarding this article because I want individuals to learn that using technolgy is necessary because it's the way of the future.  Sure, it seems silly to ask students to tweet a summary of a short story, but hey, learning to work with parameters and limitations is a real world skill, is it not?

Overall, it's a great article if you are considering how to utilize technology in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. It's something that I see a lot with younger or pre-service teachers, who may have come from a program that pushes all things technology as the "wave of the future", and with older teachers as well; they seem to assume that because the current generation uses technology in their everyday lives, it must be fun and engaging for them. It's actually quite the opposite: because they use technology so frequently, it's actually fairly mundane for them. An un-engaging lesson with technology is still un-engaging. Thus, the continued importance of backward design: we should be planning lessons around concepts and ideas that are engaging and then inserting technology where appropriate, not making up our minds to use technology and then trying to make the concepts fit.