Technology: good or bad?

 Are the effects of technology good or bad? This simple question has been an ongoing debate for quite some time. Some believe the negatives of technology outweigh the positives, and that technology is “evil”. Although people often focus on situations like this, 

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people need to recognize all that technology offers. Although one could endlessly argue both sides of this debate, what it really comes down to is how each individual chooses to use technology. We are the deciders of technology and have the opportunity to make it “good” or “bad”. 

If someone where to ask me what being a digital citizen is, even after weeks of reading articles, watching videos, and discussing the idea in class, I am still uncertain if I could give an appropriate definition. Digital citizenship is an accumulation of ideas that on the surface can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Image

 

It is very clear that technology is essential in the 21st century. I don’t think it’s fair to say that one needs to be a digital citizen in order to be a citizen of the 21st century, but it definitely would be beneficial. Since technology is so apparent in today’s world, it is vital that schools are preparing future generations to use technology appropriately and in ways that are valuable. 

For those who believe that technology only has negative effects, Stephen Balkam displays a great example of how technology can be constructive and make a significant difference in peoples lives. In Balkam’s article, he describes how Egyptians are true examples of digital citizens. He states, “While the role of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and others may well have been overstated by some, it is undeniable that the use of the web to organize and sustain many of the protests has been critical. And what has emerged is a hopeful and potentially enriching experience of ordinary people claiming their rights of free expression and assembly and using the platform of the new technologies to make this happen.” This example of cyber- activism displays what being a digital citizen really is: using technology to make positive change and standing up for what one believes in. 

Schools have the potential to meet the needs of digital citizens. More and more schools are utilizing Image and incorporating technology into the classroom. It is up to teachers to instruct their students how to use technology in productive ways. As demonstrated in Egypt, technology can have remarkable outcomes. Although most people associate digital citizenship as staying safe online, standing up to cyber-bullying, respecting the online community, and thinking about what one posts, this comic strip made by a student is a great display of another way to look at digital citizenship. 

http://www.pixton.com/comic/391wtguv

In order to prepare future generations to be digital citizens, schools need to recognize and support the idea of digital citizenship. One way to do this is by having digital citizen classes for all students. This school has a specific class for teaching digital citizenship, and if other schools follow their lead,and expand on it, educators can start to prepare to meet the needs of their digital citizen students.

 

Am I Using Technology Appropriately?

The idea that technology is continually changing and improving is a widely recognized idea. Years ago, people barely knew about laptops and cell phones; now, for most people it is hard to imagine being able to live without them. As technology changes, life changes. A lot of people believe that technology has its own world, the “digital world”. The reality is, this “digital world” is part of the real world, and it is critical that younger generations understand that technology is encompassed in their everyday life and effects all decisions they make.

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This awareness that children and adults must have is tied to the idea of digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate and responsible behavior in regards to technology use. Image

Since technology is a relatively new concept, especially the innovative technologies we have today, a lot of people misuse and abuse it. This is commonly seen in schools, where technology is now playing a larger role in curriculum. It is essential that schools and teachers prepare students to be members of this new digital society that we are apart of.  The real question teachers need to ask their students is,

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This idea of being a “good digital citizen” is something that should be taught to students starting at a young age. It is also important that adults use technology appropriately. When students see their role models misuse technology they may assume that as a norm which can lead to many issues. Technology is in-erasable. Once a child does something online it will always remain there whether it was meant to or not. It is critical that students ask themselves:

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Thinking about these questions, teachers need to encompass digital citizenship into their curriculum. This week I started following numerous educators, technology specialists, and other education accounts on twitter to learn how twitter can benefit me when I am a teacher. By exploring twitter, I was able to gain a lot of insight in ideas regarding digital citizenship and technology in the classroom that will benefit me as an educator.

This tweet was very beneficial to me. Due to a fear that it could turn into a major distraction, I haven’t gotten very involved in Pinterest. This tweet showed me that Pinterest could be an excellent resource for me as a teacher. Specifically, this tweet displayed a board that was exclusively about digital citizenship and displays ideas as to how I can guide students to become positive digital citizens and leaders. When the time comes around that I need to incorporate digital citizenship into my classroom, I can look back at this tweet to access this Pinterest board to browse ideas. If I had not seen this tweet I most likely would not have found this Pinterest board that is very beneficial for educators.

The next tweet that was useful to my understanding about digital citizenship is a tweet that linked a blog post about how one teacher incorporates digital citizenship into his classroom.

Since there are numerous ways to give students the opportunity to be digital citizens, this tweet was beneficial because it linked a blog where a teacher discussed how he makes his students digital citizens. This blog has a very interesting perspective because this teacher does not “teach” digital citizenship but rather makes his students apart of the digital world. That way, they can learn about being digital citizens by being apart of it. He believes that technology issues arise because of a lack of experience, which is why he has his students be apart of the digital world at a young age. Because they are in a controlled environment to gain experience with technology, they will gain the skills and knowledge to be digital citizens when they are on this own. This is a new perspective on digital citizenship that I believe is very advantageous and is something I would do if I teach younger children.

The last tweet I decided to share is one that links to a blog that includes a Skype interview with a teacher who includes twitter and blogging in her kindergarten class.

work starting at a young age. Using social media also allows students to respond and reply to each other, which enhances their reading skills. This tweet also led me to a blog platform called Kidblog, which is a great resource to use for all aged students.  Lastly, this article gave me a new perspective about getting parents involved in the classroom. By using blogs and twitter, parents can be apart of their child’s education and they can comment and respond to each together. By using twitter and blogs in a kindergarten classroom, interaction can develop at a young age and students can learn appropriate ways to use technologies.

Overall by using twitter as a resource, I was able to find numerous recourses and ideas to benefit me as an educator. Because there are so many users with such unique ideas and perspectives, one can gain a lot of insight on digital citizenship, as well as other teacher ideas by using twitter. I can’t wait to continue to use twitter to find ideas and eventually share my ideas with other educators.

What Kind of Thinker Are You?

Temple Grandin is more than just an American doctor of animal science. She is a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, and an inspiration to people around the world. In her Ted talk, Grandin talks about different kinds of thinkers. She explains that she, unlike most people, thinks in pictures and focuses on the details that most people don’t recognize. Furthermore, she went on to explain that since everyone thinks differently, it is important to recognize children’s unique minds and work with them so they can be successful. Since every student thinks and learns differently, it is important to instruct them recognizing their distinctive minds.

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This idea is extremely important for me as a future educator. Recently, I have learned about the idea of differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learn based on their individual differences. Every student who will enter my classroom will be unique and require different learning styles and techniques in order to reach their full potential. This cartoon displays how students recognize how they learn and expect to be taught in ways that benefit their individual minds.

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Alongside the idea of differentiated instruction is the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals an equal opportunity to learn, and focuses on meeting individual needs. In today’s world, technology plays a large role in accommodating these individual learning differences. As read in Marc Prensky’s article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, today’s students are different learners from most current teachers. He believes that modern student’s, or digital natives, brains are different from older generations, who are considered digital immigrants. Digital immigrant teachers most likely earned their degrees at a time when education technology was at a very different stage. They are used to always using the same methods that worked when they were students, but due to rapid technological advances and the digital native generation, this assumption is no long valid. Here is an image that displays some of the differences between digital natives and digital immigrants.

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Teachers need to recognize the importance of technology and incorporating it to benefit individual learning differences. They need to learn…

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Marc Prensky does a great job explaining his beliefs about teaching digital natives and incorporating technology into instruction in this interview at the 2013 Digital Education Show in Asian.

He explains that demanding the same thing from students is not enough. Similar to Grandin’s beliefs, students need to be challenged in order to fully use their minds. Technology extends students brains and their capabilities, so it is important for teachers to recognize this and use it to allow their students to reach their full potential. Prensky wrote a book, Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering For Real Learning, which is a great resource for digital immigrant teachers to use.

http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Digital-Natives-Partnering-Learning-ebook/dp/B003UHUY38

The following cartoons demonstrate the technological gap between digital natives and digital immigrants.

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It is important to recognize that although these cartoons depict the generational differences of today’s children and parents, this gap will continually be changing as technology advances. Although my generation is considered to be digital natives, by the time I am a practicing teacher, I may be behind on technological advances and may be considered a digital immigrant for certain technologies. It is important to me that I always stay up-to-date with technology so one day, a cartoon like this does not represent my students and I.

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Teachers are Learners Too

Initially, after watching Bill Gates Ted Talk on teacher feedback, I did not know what to think. I tried to imagine myself as a teacher and how I would feel if my class was videoed. On one hand, I recognized the importance of being videoed, but on the other hand, what if I’m a terrible teacher and then I have to watch everything I do wrong? After weighing the pros and cons of this idea in my head, I decided it would be necessary to do a little more research before coming to any conclusion.

The following video displays a school that participates in teacher feedback.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/improving-teacher-performance

Unlike what Bill Gates discusses in his Ted Talk, this school participates in multiple measures of teacher feedback, which they believe leads to effective teaching. This school has three components that make up their version of teacher feedback.

  1. Observation
  2. Coaching
  3. Student Feedback

Observation feedback is when a supervisor sits in on a class and uses a rubric to rate the teacher and write successes and suggestions that they observe. Then, after the class is finished the teacher and supervisor have a conference to discuss what the supervisor observed. I personally am a supporter on this kind of feedback. I believe that outsiders have a much different perspective then one has for oneself. I know personally that a lot of times I am too hard on myself, or I don’t catch things I do wrong. By having someone who isn’t in the classroom every day take notes on what I do, I would be able to benefit a lot.

Next, the video describes the coaching aspect of their teacher feedback. This combines the idea of having classrooms videoed for reflective learning and also real-time instructional coaching. The classroom videoing is what Bill Gates describes in his Ted Talk, but real-time instructional coaching is when another teacher, who has more experience in the classroom, sits in the back of the class and feeds suggestions and ideas for the teacher to do in the moment of instruction. By using real-time coaching, teachers can fix errors in the moment, rather than noticing and correcting them later. This idea was very strange to me but also makes a lot of sense. Although it could be distracting and nerve-racking to have someone telling you what to do, and when to do it, it also could be very beneficial. Personally, I learn better in the moment. By having someone giving me suggestions as I go and knowing that I have support to be successful could be very comforting.

Lastly, this school uses student surveys as a form of feedback. Personally, I think this feedback is most important. Since students are the ones experiencing the teacher everyday and know how they learn best (to some degree), by hearing their feedback, teachers can be more effective. Because every class is diverse and has unique needs, having student feedback can be extremely useful.

Overall, after seeing more examples of teacher feedback, I think it can be very beneficial. Everyone needs feedback. Feedback is how people improve. Bill Gates discussed how the U.S. is extremely behind educationally. I always knew that we weren’t number one, but after hearing Bill Gates state the statistics, reading the following article,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/03/us-test-scores_n_4374075.html

and seeing this image,

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I realized how serious of an issue this is.  For being known as such a powerful country, the U.S. really needs to step up how it educates its future generations. Furthermore, this past week I learned and discussed the importance of implementing technology in the classroom for students, so it should also be used to benefit the teachers. Incorporating technology for teacher feedback, such as video cameras, can really help make more effective teachers. Learning is a continuous, life-long process. Just because teachers are held responsible to teach future generations does not mean that they should stop their learning to become more effective and influential teachers.

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Where does learning really take place?

Typically, people associate learning with classrooms, teachers, or textbooks. The reality is, learning happens everywhere. Some may even argue that the learning outside the classroom is more important than the learning inside the classroom. No matter ones individual beliefs on learning, everyday people are learning new concepts, hobbies, tastes, skills, and characteristics about themselves and others. Whether people recognize it or not, learning happens all the time in multiple, unpredictable environments.

Technology in the Classroom

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Initially, when I read this question, there was an obvious answer. It is clear that technology plays a huge role in everyday life, so why would teachers not incorporate it in the classroom? Kids and adults are constantly on phones, computers, tablets, kindles, and other technological devices, so why wouldn’t teachers be required to incorporate them in school?

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Technology is constantly developing and expanding. Some individuals feel that in order to be apart of society they must be up-to-date with technology. From a personal experience, my grandparents got new cell phones and learned how to text just to be able to communicate with me easier. Although I call them regularly, they felt the pressure from society to text, because that is how they see me communicate with my friends. This displays the pressure society puts on individuals to be familiar with current technology, which is why it should also be used in the classroom.

Personally, technology plays a large role in my daily life. Although I tell my mom otherwise when she tells me I’m on my phone and computer too much, technology is important for my education and social life. Even though I may not use technology in a beneficial way all the time, I have had numerous experiences where technology helped me succeed. Additionally, I have seen technology drastically change individual’s lives. In high school I spent a lot of time in a special education classroom and learned how to work with students with diverse disabilities who use different tools to help them reach their full potential. This includes communication devices that give non-verbal students a voice, and other technological advances that allow students to accomplish tasks that otherwise would be almost impossible. It is clear that by having this technology in their lives they are able to participate and be more actively involved, which is the goal in education. Here are two videos that display the positive effects that technology has on individuals with special needs.

http://www.schooltube.com/video/a04a1d7da74d4ecc868a/Technology%20in%20Special%20Education

http://globalnews.ca/video/680837/new-technologies-give-kids-a-voice

Additionally, According to a research project sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, “When technology is used as a tool to support students in performing authentic tasks, the students are in the position of defining their goals, making design decisions, and evaluating their progress.” This active role increases student motivation and self-confidence. Furthermore, it is important to remember that each generation has an education system for its time. Now, we are part of the Internet and technological era, so the education system should be parallel.

Although I strongly believe that technology should be included in instruction, I don’t think it fair for it to be a requirement. Unfortunately, many schools do not have the funds or resources to provide the technology that is beneficial in the classroom. Furthermore, if teachers are not educated on how to use the technology appropriately, then it may be forced and take away from the learning. I also believe that teachers should have some choice in what they do or don’t do in their classroom. Since every classroom is unique in its structure and students, it is important that teachers make instruction decisions based on their specific class. Teachers are in charge of determining the needs of their students, so if they determine that technology would not be beneficial, then it should not be mandatory.

Overall, technology does amazing things in the classroom. Whenever it is possible it should be used. Teachers should take the time to learn how to use the technology in order to better their student’s education. The following quote by John Dewey really shows the importance of teaching for the future.

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Times are changing and it is critical that the methods and resources used to educate future generations are up-to-date. It is teachers who prepare students for the world they will face after schooling, and because technology is everywhere, we need to provide our students with the skills necessary to succeed. When in the classroom, it is critical that teachers ask themselves what world their students are going to enter and what skills they will need in order to be successful.