There’s a balanced literacy diet, but is there such thing as a balanced technology diet?

May 23, 2010 at 10:35 am | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments

Posted by Allison Sands

There has been much discussion in our class and in our book about reading more than just textbooks in our content areas. We all discussed the importance of being able to understand a textbook but agreed that it should be supplemented with different types of literature as well. We discussed looking at the readings we are assigning and evaluating the reading level, the content, and the depth of the topic it covers. Is it time the same is true for technology as well? There has been  research done which argues that technology opens the door for learning about the content. In other words, when we present the material through technology, we are more likely to motivate and get responses from students. After all, in their generation, technology is the center of their world, so should it be the center of the classroom as well?

Although I believe technology is crucial to have in the classroom, I believe some people are stretching it to the limits. I believe it is time we took a good look at the types of technology we bring into the classroom because just because students may see a certain type of technology in their everyday lives, doesn’t mean it has its place in the classroom. For instance, there has been discussion of video games in the classroom. I have to agree with David Warwick, saying in his blog that the way students think through a video game is trying to make things work, not following step-by-step instructions. This mode of thinking, when applied to math or science might be beneficial. For instance, students using the equations or information they are given to make a solution, to get to the next level. However, I do not believe video games should be in the classroom. This is because they have most likely all played a video game before and a lot of some students’ free time is spent on video games. Therefore, if we reference the tactics and skills used in video games, and ask students to apply it, then that can be valuable tool.  Teachers have also implemented video games as a reward or motivation for student learning.

So what do you think, should you bring MarioCart into your math class? How about the Wii in your science class? OR is there a point where we need to balance how much technology and what type of technology we are using in our class?



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  1. I absolutely think that the best approach to using technology in the classroom is to strive for balance. Yes educators need to be knowledgeable about the use of technology. There are great tools out there. But the best tool for a given task is the one that gets the job done easily and well. I think the task is to stretch the minds and affect the development of learners. Sometimes the best tool is technology, but not always. While technology is engaging for students, a technology-based lesson may or may not pass the importance test.
    Also, we Americans are saturated with media and technology; pretty much all day every day, at work and at play. As a parent in a middle-class family with 3 teenagers, I am often amazed and sometimes disturbed by my family’s constant consumption of media and technology, much of it web- based. And I know that we are certainly not unique. Looking through our recommended reading list, this title caught my eye, so I spent some time with the book Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives, by Todd Gitlin this week. He states, the obvious but hard-to-grasp truth is that living with the media is today one of the main things Americans and many other human beings do”. Instead of media being one aspect of life, it has become the focus of life. He also states, “We aim, through media, to indulge and serve our hungers by inviting images and sounds into our lives, making them come and go with ease in a never-ending quest for stimulus and sensation. Our prevailing business is the business not of information but of satisfaction, the feeling of feelings, to which we give as much time as we can manage”. This is a different spin on the phrase “information age”. He also claims that the appeal comes simply from media’s ability to provide distraction and fun. Maybe I go too far here, but this sounds a little bit like addiction.
    If Gitlin is right, that part of the appeal of technology for students, is the avoidance of serious thinking and contemplation, this seems significant for education. As educators, we are not going to change the reality of media immersion for our students. I can’t even make much of a difference in my own family. I think it’s important to remember though, that the “school setting” may be practically the only time many students spend with traditional, print based forms of media. As I sit here, I wonder how significant that is. Maybe others have ideas on this that they would like to share. However, if one of our goals is to produce well-rounded, thinkers who can understand content from a variety of sources, then I think our classrooms shouldn’t replace print media with technology entirely. A balanced technology diet is important.
    I also agree that the use of video games in the classroom should be limited. I do see that those video game skills and tactics could be useful in science classes, as well as certain real world situations, but I think most students get plenty of practice outside the classroom.

  2. I would support the use of video games in the classroom with specific guidelines. It is important to have the technology fit the area to be studied and that the lesson not be designed to fit the technology.

    I liked the implementation that Michael A. Breslow uses in his 7th grade classroom. The New Jersey Education Association highlighted Breslow’s success on their webpage. The Wii has helped him “teach physics concepts using real world situations.” Breslow claims that the Wii assists students in establishing relevance as well as providing him a new way to present physics’ concepts. He cautions that it is important to record the students use in order to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to play. The Wii is also used as motivational tool in which students are granted game time for positive behaviors.

    I could see the Wii being a very popular addition to the classroom. It would require additional time to record the student play time in an effort to maintain fairness. I think that it could be a great resource as long as it implemented correctly. The manner in which Mr. Breslow has integrated the use of Wii in his classroom is an excellent example of using current technology to engage and enhance instruction.

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