I teach a 5th Grade class in an international elementary school. The pupils come from all over the world and are all very different from each other. The school systems that they have come from and the cultural values held by their families are all very different. They have one thing in common though and that is the reason that they are in school – to learn. And by learn, I mean it in the widest sense of the word – academically and socially. My job as a teacher is to help and guide them. To support and challenge them in every way that I can. I use every tool that I can get my hands on and am constantly looking for ways to do it more effectively. Educational Technology is simply one part of my toolkit. When I use it well, I can provide the pupils with transformative and engaging experiences. When I use it badly, they don’t learn much at all.
Throughout history, civilizations have developed tools to help them move forward. From the Roman’s understanding of water engineering to the industrial revolution in the mills of England, technology has played a part in moving people forward, and so it must in our classrooms. To ignore the benefits that current technologies afford us would be to do a disservice to our pupils. The difficultly lies in using it well. Reuben Puentenrda who devised the SAMR model describes how difficult it can be. He states that, “The plethora of choices available can prove paralyzing, frequently resulting in ongoing substitutive uses of the technology that block, rather than enable, more ambitious transformative goals.” Therefore the use of Educational Technology in my class has a simple objective. To make a difference to the learning of the pupils. If it does that then it has value and is worth exploring. It is no more valuable that my ability to use humor to engage a class.
The use of technology should address all the issues that a teacher faces daily. Motivating the pupils, engaging them in effective and realistic learning activities, supporting their progress across all areas of the curriculum, assessing and facilitating quality feedback. Technology should support me in my desire to help every pupil fulfill their potential. It can help me to individualize each pupil’s experience and connect them to a winder world. It affords me the opportunity to open their eyes and see more of the world that they thought possible.
Different learning theories impact my decisions as a teacher but I have always found that best practice lies in the world of balance. Roblyer (2016) writes something similar with respect to Educational Technology and different learning theories, stating that her text is based on the premise that, “There are meaningful roles for both directed instruction and constructivist strategies.” (p46) While both approaches come from different beliefs about how we learn. Ideas and theories will be challenged and adapted and changed and grow, just like the technology we are discussing. What seems important is to look to the world which our children are entering and use every tool we have to prepare them for that world.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. 7th Edition. Massachusetts: Pearson.
Puenterndra, J. (2014, Sept 24) SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy: Assembling the Puzzle. [Blog comment] Retrieved from: https://www.graphite.org/blog/samr-and-blooms-taxonomy-assembling-the-puzzle