The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER THREE – Schools and the Information Age.

Another Thursday, another round of the Great EdTech Debate! This weeks topic is “Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled”.

The Debaters : Curtis & Lisa vs. Daina & Jocelyn

Right away we had a humorous start to the debate – with the double negative in the title causing both teams to end up arguing the same side (Agreement – I think) of the issue! Interestingly enough – they each presented unique information despite taking the same viewpoint!

It was certainly a different experience because I feel as though in this debate we were able to take an issue, and really discuss the nuances of it rather than go back and forth presenting new information to take in. While I don’t know that I walked away from this one with a new fact or piece of information that broke my brain – I do feel as though I got to challenge my opinion more thoroughly.

So – without further ado : Should schools teach topics that can be easily googled? Are you ready for my absolutely groundbreaking, earth shattering response???

Well, yes. …but also, no.

If we are looking at the topic on it’s face – yes, we could pretty much always say we need a complete curriculum redesign, and of those reasons -educating children in the information age, would be just one of the many things needing a more thorough reflection upon in current curricula.

But as Amanda pointed out in the debate conversation – our current Saskatchewan Curriculum does allow the space for inquiry and creativity… at least beyond questions and responses so simplistic that you could plug them into any web browser and find an answer. It’s more about the implementation (or time you’re allowed to utilize to implement elements of the curriculum, ahem teacher-work-time, ahem.

In reflection, I am glad that we started with a video titled “Mindful Learning” because Curtis and Lisa truly did a fantastic job of summarizing my thoughts on the issue – but in much more succinct and research based terms than I ever could. They started off their video discussing the skills students will need for the future, they named:

  • Positivity
  • Bravery
  • Determination
  • Self Belief
  • Creativity
  • Sheer Energy

They then pointed out that none of those skills can be taught with a simple Google search. They then went on to argue (and they can correct me here if I am misinterpreting their message) that through the use of models of teaching such as LoTi – educators can work with, and not in spite of technology (Good old Google Search Engine included) to enrich student learning experiences and build those fundamental skills.

Graphic via Peace River School Division No. 60

This framework reminds me of my curriculum design course in which my classmates and I each took a survey to see where we fell in terms of curricula ideologies.

Many of us shared that we favoured (or thought we did) an ideology that was leaner centered – with teachers as facilitators. However, we each were hard pressed to explain how that ideology would look in a classroom in it’s truest form.

Reflecting on that with the information I have now, it is my belief that student centered learning could be best empowered through pedagogy informed technological integration in education, and frameworks like LoTi, SAMR or TIM.

This is not to say that is how technology is currently being used in every classroom. If our remote teaching experience has taught us anything, it’s probably that educators all fall in vastly different places in terms of their attitude towards, and utilization of technology. I am certain many of us (myself included) are still teaching in a way where we would be replaced by a keyword search every now and again.

That is why I enjoyed the article shared by Daina & Jocelyn, called “Memorising vs Googling: What does it mean to actually learn?” Which was one teacher’s examination of what information do students need to gleam from one on one in person facilitation, and what information is it okay to be left google-able? (Don’t @ me that’s a term now).

As Dr. Samuels writes,

At the University of NSW, Law exams are open book, while Medical Science exams aren’t. This makes sense. When lawyers are preparing advice for a client or even representing them in court, they have plenty of opportunities to check their notes or refer to other case decisions.The challenge for the lawyer is to make sense of the information available to them, rather than to remember it under pressure. For doctors confronted with life-and-death situations, there probably isn’t time to refer to a textbook. They have to rely on their ability to recall what they’ve learned.

(Samuels, 2019)

As I make choices about how to use technology (although for now much of that choice is gone) I will keep this new framework, and the words of Dr. Samuels in mind as I try to find my way in yet another issue of the the Great #EdTechDebate where I am saying… “it depends…”.

Is EdTech all shades of grey??? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The Great EdTech Debate – CHAPTER THREE – Schools and the Information Age.”

  1. I like the quote that you highlighted by Dr. Samuels as this demonstrates that there is a time and place for memorization for quick recall of information versus the skill of research to find meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, it is our job to teach both of these skills in some capacity and to some extent as we don’t know which one will be most beneficial for our students down the road. This makes it even more difficult to address each learner individually as they develop and mature at different stages in their lives that don’t always match their peers’ development. We can’t paint all kids with the same brush and that’s why the LoTi, SAMR, TIM, UDL, SIOP models are great examples of how we can attempt to reach all learners within their scope of interest and abilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I really like how you demonstrate how certain skills require certain skills such as memorization when looking at the type of job a lawyer has to do, compared to what a doctor has to do. Thank you for a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

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