Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, August 20, 2015

1:1 In Our Schools? What Do You Think?

This post is a response to a local doctor's newsletter.  To view it you can click here.

Feel free to read his side first and then read this post.  I would love to hear your opinions, research, and comments.

First of all, the title is incorrect.  I don’t think any one of us said that 1:1 IS the answer.  I have taught in many sessions that technology enhances good teaching and amplifies poor teaching.  Putting a computer/device in front of a student does not make all problems go away.  The thought of that is ludicrous.

The author describes what he calls visions of cutting edge classrooms.  He says, “This is a place where students instantly can access information and be transported to experiences never imagined before while their teacher navigates them through an unbelievable world of learning and growth.”  He then says that this image never mirrored reality.  My question to him is, when is the last time he has been in a classroom?  Maybe he visited the wrong classroom.  Just last year I witnessed a room full of 7th grade students that got to meet, talk to, and listen to an amazing story from a Holocaust survivor.  That sounds like they were transported to an experience never imagined before to me.  I have also observed students being creative and designing digital greeting cards that they sent to their mothers for Mother’s Day.  Students were engaged and were learning skills required for digitally enhanced questions on standardized tests.  I am still not seeing the downside here.

In the next paragraph, he makes a bold statement by saying, “Higher rates of technology use consistently leads to poorer outcomes.”  I would say that it depends on the type of technology use.  If the technology was used a fancy game machine, then that may be the case.  If the technology was used as a tool for learning, then I totally disagree with that statement.  Going back to what I said before, technology enhances good teaching.  It amplifies poor teaching.  In other words, technology is only as good as the people that are using it.

In paragraph two, he says that screens contribute to inattention, obesity, poor consumption of produce, noncompliance, aggression, negative mood, creative play, and academic progress.  Again, this depends upon the type of screen time the students are engaging in.  If they are sitting around eating pizzas and Twinkies and playing video games, then he may be right on.  If the students are creating and curating presentations for a class project, then I would say his statement does not apply.  I taught in a middle school classroom for 18 years.  I cannot think of the last time that a worksheet didn’t produce a little negative mood and reduce creativity in my students.

In the fourth paragraph he does state something positive.  He says, “Used strategically, it appears that technology can provide definite advantages. “  Isn’t this the whole point?  If that isn’t what is happening, then the technology is being misused.  He also says in the same paragraph that a teacher’s role may be changed.  Instead of teacher/motivator/inspirer, it will change to more of a
proctor/facilitator/moderator.  Has not heard of project based learning or student centered classrooms?

In today’s World, our culture uses technology more than ever.  I recently spoke to middle school students about being good digital citizens.  The first thing I said to them is that we can drop the digital.  Technology is so integrated in our lives these days, this lesson is really just about being a good citizen.  The article talks about texting.  He complains about teachers sending reminders via text.  Is he really complaining about teachers communicating with students?  This is bad?   Really?  He also mentions that schools are demanding online formats for assignments.  My response is that there is a reason for this.  In the last 20 years of my married life, things have changed.  For example, I get emails regarding my utility bills instead of paper bills in the mailbox.  I pay those bills online instead of sending in a written check.  I can transfer money from one account to another and send people money via my bank’s website instead having to go in and withdraw money or fill out a transfer slip.  I can communicate with just about any one of my friends in just a few seconds via text or social media.  I know more about what is happening at the schools I work at and in my friends’ lives because of social media.  Before, I had to call and hope they were home or write them a letter because long distance calls were expensive.  I can take photos and share with family and friends in seconds.  I no longer have to hope a took perfect photos, wait a week to get them developed, put them in a photo album, and go visit friends and show them.   I can rent movies at the click of a button.  No need for trips to the video store.  My daughter is completing online applications for colleges and universities.  I now complete my taxes, you guessed it, ONLINE!

What I am saying here is that we don’t live in the 80’s anymore.  This is 2015 and our culture has embraced technology.  Commercials for businesses ask to “Like” them on Facebook or “Follow” them on Twitter.   My favorite TV show has a hashtag in the corner and if I want to, I can see what people around the world are saying while watching.  That is the world we live in today ready or not.  It is OUR responsibility as educators to prepare our students and equip them with the skills they need for the world today and not the one of 20 plus years ago.

Lastly, in his second to last paragraph he mentions students misusing school technology for illegal and illicit affairs.  THIS IS NOT THE FAULT of the technology.  These are behavior issues.  He acts like that all students were angels and never did anything wrong before they got devices in their hands.  I hate to burst his bubble, but things were not perfect before the technology.  These behaviors need to be dealt with.  Before 1:1 in schools, we didn’t take textbooks and pencils away when students wrote in the books, passed notes, or were off task.  The behaviors were dealt with and we went on with class.  I will admit, the wrong way is out there, but it always has been.  We are responsible to help our students know the right way.  I will also say that technology doesn’t and won’t fix education.  It is up to us to guide our students and teach them how to be good citizens whether they are online or offline.  Please understand the following misconception: 1:1 is not screens up from school start to the end of the day.  There are also many learning opportunities without the use of technology.  There is a happy medium.