Key Issues and Concepts
Unit 7 allowed for the opportunity to explore the value of mobile technology in an academic setting. I use mobile technology almost all of the time at work and in my personal life too-is this good or bad? Honestly, I think there are pros and cons. I use my laptop, ipad and iphone for a multitude of different things that pertain to work and play and it really all depends on what I need at that moment. I email and text a lot each day also, mostly for purposes of giving or receiving necessary information. All of this technology can be used in helping teachers at my school organize information, research new tools and present ideas to students.
The cons of this technology are aptly outlined in Sherry Turkle’s ‘Connected, but alone?’. She claims that our world of texts and emails are superficial in that they don’t allow us to really know and understand one another. Yes, it’s convenient to disseminate information and ideas; however it prevents us from growing as it keeps people at a distant at the same time. Turkle claims “…we turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control”(Connected,n.d.). She asserts that we ‘hide’ behind technology and essentially disengage from more personal encounters. Indeed, this is arguable however she does have an interesting point. Too often I see students (our digital natives) walking through the hallways with earphones on or with their heads down texting-they are isolating themselves to a certain degree. Further, I find more students that are unable to hold normal conversations nor can they maintain eye contact. Yes, these are generalizations; however I’ve experienced this in several different schools and even different districts. This definitely concerns me. What are your thoughts?
(picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)
My Experience in this Unit
An activity that supports the learning challenge this unit is the Socrative app. Socrative is a free downloadable app that can be used to gather information in the form of a quiz, assessment, evaluation or poll. With a BYOD initiative in place at my school, I recently used this app with a science teacher to foster learning for all of his students. The teacher had a desire to engage his students more as he introduced a new unit and questioned them in pairs to discover what they already knew about this topic. In past practice, the teacher had simply asked questions to test for previous knowledge and any student could respond by coming up to the board to write words or phrases. Clearly this was cumbersome, took too much time and only allowed for the same students to participate. However, with the introduction of the Socrative app, we paired the students together and installed the app onto their smartphones. They connected to the teacher-created poll, completed the brief set of questions while collaborating together and then submitted. The teacher then retrieved all of the submitted responses through the app by quickly exporting the results into a spreadsheet and projecting for all to see and for dialogue on the new topic to begin.
This experience allowed for all students to participate, not just the ones who normally raise their hands because they know the answer. The collaboration and communication that occurred between students when taking the assessment also allowed for self-directed discussion and problem-solving. And from the teacher point of view, it was much more efficient as it took less time and generated electronic data that could easily be shared with the entire class.
Observations and Questions
I think there needs to be a balance of technology which helps us to enhance understanding as well as uniting us through collaboration and communication. If used appropriately, technology can enhance instruction and can be leveraged as a supplement to good teaching-not necessarily a replacement. Anytime I present technology to anyone, I keep in mind that it must be relevant to learning, appropriate for the audience and must in some way help learners understand something more deeply.
One of the key findings and trends from the NMC Horizon Project preview states that “…active learning approaches are decidedly more student-centered, allowing them (students) to take control of how they engage with a subject and to brainstorm and implement solutions to pressing local and global problems.” (Johnson et al, 2012) With new mobile and web-based technologies continuing to develop and impact the classroom, the opportunities for problem-solving and learning in a student-centered collaborative environment are promising.
Socrative App: A smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. www.socrative.com
The Journal, December 2013 issue: Good article on how administrators should lead the way in technology: click here
Connected, but alone?. (n.d.). Sherry Turkle:. Retrieved , from http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together#t-1041962
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2012). NMC Horizon Project Preview: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
http://www.socrative.com introductory video