Technology in Science Classrooms

May 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Science, Technology | Leave a comment

Post written by Jenny Norton

Technology and science tend to go hand in hand with both their advances and nature, so it makes sense for science teachers to embrace technology in their classrooms.  Yet, there are many science teachers who are hesitant to incorporate technology into their daily lessons.  As educators we need to decide if we will incorporate technology into our classrooms.  Will technology hinder or enhance the learning experience of our students?

I think there are pros and cons to every piece of technology, and it is our responsibility to determine which technologies can aid us in creating a classroom community that is conducive of learning. For example, wikis and blogs can give every student a voice, whereas SMART Boards are often just used as glorified projection screens.  Overall, I believe that technology can be very powerful in the classroom, if it use used correctly and to its full potential.  In the Teaching Science and Math Blog, David Wetzel, explains how the correct use of technology can empower students,

Using technology in science and math class promotes learning activities in which students work in small groups rather than in isolation or as a whole class demonstrations. The technologies used in the classroom are not those designed explicitly to teach basic skills, but rather are real-world applications that support research, design, analysis, composition, and communication.

The disadvantage of using technologies in the classroom, is when they are not used appropriately.  The main misappropriation that I have witnessed, is when teachers use technologies as means teach the lesson.  Improper use is also seen when teachers solely rely on the technology to engage students, for example, when a video is played to keep the students on the topic.  This also reduces the student-teacher interactions as well as the student-student interactions. Misappropriation of technology reminds me of the engagement/importance quadrants that lessons can fall into, high-engagement and low-importance is one quadrant.  In the Science Teacher blog, Michael Doyle, discredits the use of technology in the classrooms because it is so often misused.  Doyle has the mentality, that when it comes to science education, sometimes kids just need to get their hands wet to interact with the lesson.  He goes on to state how technologies can limit learning,

The more I try to bring the world to my classroom, the more I realize the limitations of our various tools. Even words get in the way at times, especially when the words are designed to “teach.” Words matter, of course, and sharing language gets us halfway there–but in science class, or in any interaction with the natural world, words fall incomplete. We forget this.

Do we need to incorporate technology in every single lesson, for its entirety? Or, is it as simple as using a microscope camera for five minutes to show a phenomenon? The proper use of the appropriate technologies in science classes can promote real science through inquiry, and get away from students spitting out facts just so they can pass a state exam.  When it comes down to it, we as educators, have to ask ourselves why we are teaching.  Are we teaching so our students can pass high-stakes tests?  Or, are we teaching to promote questioning and observations through science?  Which is better for our students?

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