Teaching (Distracted?) Technology Geeks

This New York Times article discusses student attention spans, and teachers’ thoughts on how technology is affecting students. It begins with a woesome tale of student disengagement, vast amounts of screen viewing time, and lower quality student work. Then the “Big D,” Distraction. However, not every insight on technology from the teacher survey was negative. Research, math and reading skills were said to  improve. The article goes on to say that labeling students as “distracted” is judgmental towards the generation.

Technology Is Not Technology if it was Invented Before You Were Born

CC licensed to lgb06, Flickr
Quote from Sir Ken Robinson during Keynote Speech at PETE&C 2010.
“Technology is not technology if it was invented before you were born”
Created with fd’s Flickr Toys
Original image from yashrg on Flickr

I, like some of the teachers quoted in the article, still have optimism for students and teachers. Since our learners are plugged into technology to such a high extent, our teaching and connecting with these students will need to change, and likely revolve more and more around technology. Compared with you or I, these students are total technology geeks who should be teaching us. For me this means that I need to learn more about technology so that I can teach with technology, and teach students how to use it responsibly.

George Couros  took a closer look about what it means to learn with technology vs. learn about technology. It reminds me of the subtle, but significant difference between “assessment for learning” and “assessment of learning.”

Using technology to engage and teach our children is inevitable, however, there are words of caution. Kathy Cassidy , who teaches primary students imparts, “Technology should not be used to do what can be done without it.” This makes sense, however, since our tweens and teens are so into their phones and iPads, maybe we need technology to get through to them, to meet them on their level.

I was inspired by a teacher connecting with her students via Google Forms while reading George Couros’s blog. How very encouraging! Once the connection was made on a personal level, via technology, this teacher was able to better connect with the students face to face.

More teaching and learning tools from Google can be found at http://www.google.com/edu/.


Filed under Teaching Ideas, Teaching Tools, Technology

3 Responses to Teaching (Distracted?) Technology Geeks

  1. John

    I really like the notion of “learning with vs learning about” technology. Keeping it a tool and not the focus, or a distraction. From my internship, I’ve seen how keen students are to make technology a distraction. Cellphones are an obvious example of this. Although, I have seen cells used positively, being used to look up information during class to support what the topic was. Isn’t there also a way to have students use their phones to vote during class, having the results posted online? Not to mention modern cell phones make most calculators redundant, can take video, pictures, visit wikipedia… really, cell phones could be quite useful. These same things also make them really distracting, but if students are engaged with the lessons, and too busy using their cells for school work…

    Well, I think they could be a great tool if used right.

  2. Greg

    That is an interesting point: “technology should not be used to do what can be done without it.” I think this means that technology should be transformative, that it should be used in innovative ways to engage students. That is why this class is useful. The technologies that we are learning about can do things that pencil and paper, essays, and other traditional resources simply cannot do.

  3. jub574

    I agree with Greg – technology needs to be used in a way that engages students, this also leads back to making sure we teach digital citizenship so that when students are engaged they are knowing what is appropriate. Lets keep our students motivated about learning and use a variety of tools to keep them engaged!