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Posts Tagged ‘teachnology

There is a stock phrase for the slow progress of any change: Taking three steps forward, two steps back. But wonder what it would be like if we did not take steps back.

The Edutopia article above does a disservice to education by signposting how to maintain the status quo or even reverse progress of edtech integration. To justify this, the author cited the harm of screen time and the benefits of taking notes by hand. 

I am not saying that excessive use of a device late into the night is good, nor am I saying we should only take notes with more recent technologies. I would point out that the pen vs device question gets answers that fall on either side depending on the task. 

If you need to take a quick note, draw a diagram, or mindmap, then a pen (actual or electronic) might be both more efficient and effective. But if you needed to submit a legible essay, record an interview, or document phenomena, then a keyboard, microphone, and camera are better options for these forms of writing.

We should also point out the elephant in the debate room. The ultimate form of assessment — paper-based tests — favours handwriting over other forms of writing. In such a room, students cannot cooperate with one another, fact-check their work online, or express themselves beyond basic text and drawing.

Ultimately, the strategy of note-taking also matters more than the tool of note-taking (see video and sources here). In reviewing the video, I summarised:

It does not matter if you prefer to take notes by handwriting or by typing. It is how you attempt to quickly process what you see and hear before you record it. It is about your ability to analyse and summarise.

Rising above, I find articles that try to justify handwriting tiresome and passé. They live in the past in order to divide and conquer. They encourage the large camp of teachers who are wary of technology and thus maintain the status quo. They discourage the other group of teachers that leverages on technology by making them feel like they are doing something wrong.

What is wrong is wearing rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia and taking the short term view. If we are preparing our learners for the present and future, they need to use the tools of today and tomorrow. These tools include pencils and devices. 

We need a better debate. We cannot keep arguing that students should hand-write because exams are on paper. This might help students with a grade, but it avoids the responsibility of preparing them beyond the walls of the classroom. The use of all writing tools should not just be strategic and contextual, they should also be shaped by more progressive and authentic forms of assessment. What such assessment looks like and how to implement it are far more interesting and valuable topics of discussion.

Thanks to a retweet from @tucksoon, I read this blog entry on Pedagogy vs Technology.

Like the author of that entry, I do not think that there is a contest between the two. But, depending on the context, there is value in placing the pedagogical horse before the technology cart.

If my audience comprises of student teachers or teachers who are new to technology integration, I go with that approach. I urge them not to fall into the cool tool trap and using technology for its own sake.

Instead, I ask them to think about what they want their students to learn and how they might learn it. To do this, they will have to think about learning objectives, evaluation and content first. Then I ask them to think about how technology might support or enable this learning.

With experience, these teachers internalize this process and avoid the cool tool trap. They then learn how to think about pedagogy and technology at the same time. They learn teachnology.

With teachnology, you think about the technical, social and educational affordances of a tool alongside your pedagogical needs. The horse and cart are one. This is a logical and necessary progression. After all, the horse and cart model is dated.

While I would love to present this integrated approach, it rarely works in practice. Most teachers-as-learners already have the cool tool mindset. They need to unlearn that first, learn to prioritize pedagogy in the process of technology integration and then learn teachnology.

Video source

It’s not the tool, but the artist behind it that matters.

Likewise, it is not so much the technology but how logically and meaningfully the teacher integrates it into his/her learning environment that matters.


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