The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER ONE – Does technology enhance learning?

Tonight we had our very first round of The Great Edtech Debate! The topic: Does Technology Enhance Learning?

First thoughts- wow oh wow.

Amanda and Nancy came out swinging with a thoughtful video that detailed a personal narrative. They were in charge of arguing in agreement with the topic. Throughout their narrative (the story of Amanda’s injury and her use of technology to continue her work) they introduced their main argument: technology enhances our ability to make connections, and connections help us to learn more authentically, and innovatively .

Next came Trevor and Matt’s opening argument in disagreement with the topic. It was a truly interesting experience to listen to two people I know to be proponents of technology in the classroom argue against the notion that it enhances learning. Their showmanship? Incredible. Their execution (right down to the matching zoom background and suits)? Flawless. Their points? Noteworthy. That being said I truly believe they were struggling to argue their own side, owing to the MEGA (Make Education Great Again) stance they took – fake tweets and all. It might just be my jaded 2020 opinion, but if you’re doctoring tweets- you might have a tough argument to present. Their main thesis regarding students’ use of technology in place of critical thinking was truly interesting.

At the beginning of class we voted, and it turns out our class was pretty convinced that technology does in fact enhance learning.

The breakdown at the beginning of class (Agree is Blue – Disagree is Red)

After the arguments, then rebuttals by both sides (which were amazingly succinct and only the slightest bit personal) we broke into a class discussion regarding the topic.

My biggest takeaways from the conversation:

  • Many of us are considering technology to mean individual applications or specific learning management systems. Of the two the biggest criticisms raised were troubleshooting problems inaccessibility for students of various age ranges and abilities.
  • We acknowledge technology to be a tool, not the what of learning but rather the how.
  • Even those arguing against technology’s ability to enhance learning admit that technology provides opportunities for those in vulnerable populations that did not exist in the past.

After some closing arguments, in which both sides readdressed their main points, we took another vote. The result? Surprising!

The breakdown at the end of class (Agree is Blue – Disagree is Red)

Several people voted that their minds had been changed by the discussion! While the arguments by the presenters were playful (and at times sensationalist) they each highlighted enough new and interesting information to cause us to reconsider our positions on this issue in contemporary education technology.

Personally, I still feel as though this is a “it depends” issue.

The team arguing in agreement of the topic and their readings reminded me:

  • Technology when implemented in an thoughtful way, as part of a technical pedagogical approach can be “transformative”.
  • Teaching digital citizenship to children is only possible with an element of role modelling and engagement with personal technology.

The team arguing in disagreement of the topic and their readings reminded me:

  • It’s important for educators not to develop a tech-utopian view of technology. To carefully assess and balance the risks and rewards or educational technology before diving straight into a strategy.
  • While Media literacy is an essential skill in the 21st century educational landscape- a balance with traditional literacy must be achieved.

I am so thankful for the experience my peers provided me with tonight, to question my own assumptions and biases and examine the complexities of issues so relevant to today’s teaching and learning.

3 thoughts on “The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER ONE – Does technology enhance learning?”

  1. I like the way you dissected the debate Victoria. I agree with your take on the debate and some of the key issues that you raised such as using technology in classrooms is a “depends” issue. There are a lot of factors that come into play. One of your key points that stood out to me was that it’s not simply just that technology is being used but how it’s being used to turly transform learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Victoria, I enjoyed your humorous approach to summing up the debate on this ongoing topic. Your summary stimulated an interesting thought for me when you discussed the idea of balance when it comes to educational technology. From most of the discussions and observations of classrooms I have had I believe that there is slowly a shift of attempting to find this balance. Of course there are some educators that have not embraced any technology in the classroom, but most are able to see enough benefits that it is worth the time and effort to implement.

    Like

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