There is no doubt that I believe in the importance of technology and it’s impact on relationships and learning in education. If you asked people twenty years ago how they found information, their answers would be all over the place. Ask them five years ago, and many would have said, “Google”. Ask them today, and answers might range from not only search engines like Google and YouTube, but they might also look towards social networks such as Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. We are not only connecting to information but more importantly, people. If this does not make a difference in how we teach and learn, we are denying our kids something that adults use all of the time and sometimes, don’t even really notice.
Yet I often hear about people warning ideas that we need to be “mindful” of the impact of technology, to which I agree. I believe that if you are going to find meaningful ways for your students to engage using technology, teachers should focus on learning with technology first. I would consider hiring someone to teach math that had never taught the subject before, but I would have a hard time hiring someone who never learnt math before. This is the position many schools are in with technology and its impact on our world and the way we learn.
Some would see this lack of knowledge as a hindrance, yet I see it as an opportunity as there has been a huge refocus on the “teacher as learner”. If you want students to become expert “learners” then we nee to be expert “learners” as well. Conveying that to a student is what makes someone a great teacher, but if we don’t understand the new opportunities for learning for our students, how can we effectively teach them to thrive in our world today and in the future?
My concern is the “mindful” argument with many is a means to end a conversation as opposed to starting one. I have heard many make the argument about our lack of “mindfulness” on the use of technology, that do not give suggestions on meaningful ways to use it with our students or even educators. This is not all, but often pushing to be more “mindful” with no other suggestions of meaningful use really is “anti-technology” just disguised by another name.
Here would be my first question when I hear that argument…What are some meaningful ways that you would suggest students use technology in their learning? I often get a question on the other side of the spectrum dealing with some of the “pitfalls of technology” and I answer it often from a place of experience as opposed to avoiding the question altogether.
If we can’t offer the negative impacts of technology without sharing the positive, are we truly being mindful or are we simply hiding a negative bias with a more acceptable term?