edtech ≠ better teaching

My post this week was inspired by this tweet:

Do teachers really see the true value in authentic technology integration?  Or rather, are we just utilizing popular tech tools because they offer a sense of excitement, even when teaching in the traditional sense.  Alfie Kohn makes this statement, challenging teachers to consider how they are using particular tech tools and whether they are substituting rather than redefining: “These are shiny things that distract us from rethinking our approach to learning and reassure us that we’re already being innovative.”  This was intriguing to me – I agree that technology in education should be focused on modification and redefinition according to the SAMR model, but even with these best intentions, some teachers may only be using technology as a form of substitution or augmentation.

This video provides examples of the SAMR model used in classroom: 

As an educator, how do you plan to ensure you are utilizing tech in an effective and innovative manner, reflecting the higher-order of the SAMR model?

I also found this article, with arguments similar to that of Kohn’s.  Don’t get me wrong – I definitely don’t agree with everything said.  However, I think it provides some interesting perspective regarding the growing usage of technology in schools.  The article discusses the growth of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and online learning, critically looking at whether or not this is always beneficial for a student, regardless of convenience.  Do we really receive the same learning opportunities and potential for success by sitting behind the computer screen rather than in a classroom?  The article argues, “it might seem appealing to be able to learn at the time and place of one’s choosing, but there is something to be said for learning in the physical presence of others.”

I have to say, I agree with this statement, to an extent…

 I have taken online courses and feel like I did not learn a single thing – I have pretty much no recollection of what the course was about and I found the online quizzes to be fairly useless to me.  However, this was really based on the program used to deliver the course.  For example, ECMP455 is held on Zoom, which allows students to utilize webcam, audio, screen-sharing, chat, and more.  The live interaction with both the instructors and fellow students makes for a much more authentic learning experience.  In comparison, programs that are only set up in the way that students read content on their own, answer polls or surveys, respond to forum questioning, and take online quizzes seem to be less beneficial due to the lack of interaction (less able to learn from each other).

Am I the only one who thinks this?  Have you had any experience with online courses similar to what I have mentioned?

Furthermore, the article suggests, “there are clear benefits to having an expert teacher standing at the front of a class and delivering a lecture.”  I have always approached my teaching style in a way that minimizes the “expert” role and focuses more on student-led learning.  However, I was intrigued by this statement as it made me reflect on my own teaching philosophy.

What are the implications of this when considering your role as a teacher?



2 thoughts on “edtech ≠ better teaching

  1. During high school, all of my math classes were online. I find that it was somewhat in between zoom and what you were talking about. We signed in what I think is called blackboard and we had a webcam, so they could see us and we could see them. We could also talk with our teacher but the biggest problem was that this was broadcasted to 3 different schools. It was definitely hard to learn this way. Most of the time we were nervous to ask questions fearing we would look stupid. I personally didn’t like it and spent most of the time outside of class asking my former math teacher for help. As well there was SO many technical problems, all the time. I also took one online at the university and that was all self-motivated class. No meeting time or anything other than the final. I really didn’t like this! I find for myself I enjoy being in the class with a teacher. But I think that if you can motivate yourself to be proactive in a class then you shouldn’t have a problem. Lastly, what does an “expert” teacher look like? Is it someone who is knowledgeable about the subject matter? Or is it someone who can present learning in an engaging, intriguing way?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comments, Brea! I definitely agree with you – the self-motivated online classes can be so difficult if you aren’t accustomed to that type of learning. Technical problems can also be an issue.

    I like your perspective on what an “expert” teacher really is – I have always approached teaching in a way that reflects a balance in being a positive role model for students while encouraging student-led, inquiry-based, individualized learning.


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