Saturday, February 16, 2013

Teachers embrace digital learning strategies

As someone who teaches pre-service teachers about the benefits of new literacies and technologies in the classroom, I was quite interested in the following article found here. To summarize PBS Media Learning took a survey which revealed that today's teachers absolutely want more digital learning in the classroom.  I am not surprised by these results, but I did find it problematic that some of the largest findings in this survey had to do with engagement. For example, the first icon on the top left of the article (you know...where your eyes naturally go as you read a page) mentions that "74 percent of teachers say that 'educational technology is a student-motivator.'"  I have no problem with using technology as a motivator, but I don't think that is a strong argument for using technology.

Naturally students in this digital, post-MTV age find digital content enticing.  Look at all the students with ipads, kindles, nooks and i-phones.  Just today I almost hit two young adults texting and crossing the street.  (or perhaps they were facebooking?)  Clearly I love and value technology.  And what's not to say that I've never crossed a street while texting.  But my point is...I think it's a thin argument to use technology as a motivator.

The survey did redeem itself, however. Some of the cognitive value was mentioned.  Awesome.  For example...73% of these teachers said a benefit of technology was that it responds to a variety of learning and 74% of the teachers said that a benefit was that it "reinforced and expanded content."

I am very happy that many studies and surveys today are looking past engagement.  I think that the argument that technology engages is simple. Yes, the engagement is valuable....and engagement is necessary for learning.  But that cannot be the most important factor when it comes to using technology in the classroom.  I just hope more and more educators start to look at cognitive values of technology.  Because it's not enough to get technology in the's what we do with that technology.

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