Nov 14

Technology as a Tool

After seven weeks (28 actual class days) of working with iPads, netbooks and desktop computers in the classroom in a 1:1 environment, my students have settled into a pretty swell routine. The apps most used by students to get their work done are Safari for Internet research, and Office2 HD for creating documents and/or adding them to their Google Docs. For fun I catch students playing Chess or Rush Hour. Along with Doodle Buddy, still a favorite, those are the apps students use the most.

On my iPad I find myself using Office2 HD whenever I need to work with documents. I also use Mail, Reeder, TwitBird Pro, Read It Later, Evernote, WordPress, Facebook, and Dictionary the most. I have used Gusto a few times when I want to edit my HW webpages on my iPad instead of pulling out my laptop. Our tech guy also turned me on to Desktop, which has been great for connecting to my Macs from my iPad, but I haven’t used it as much as I thought I would. Having the PDF Reader has also been invaluable since I get a lot of attachments via email.

What I’m most delighted with has been how students work in a 1:1 environment and how well they make use of the iPads for learning. They are truly using the technology as tools. It’s not about the technology, it’s about learning and working. I filmed a typical day of my students at work. What you see in that video is what I see every day! This is what I was hoping would happen. The technology is no different than books, paper and pencils were when I was in school. This is how it should be. Check it out:

Do we also do hands-on work in my Science classes? Of course! We do labs and students test questions they come up with as well as design their own labs. My 6th graders also do the following water quality testing on our neighborhood creek every year (it’s a video). Tech is just one of many tools in our arsenal as teachers. We, the teachers, the educators, the facilitators help guide our students so that they don’t just find quick answers and spend all their time learning a technology tool but that they also learn to think critically and deeply about the topics they are studying and that they use the technology to share what they’ve learned to get feedback from others. Some of my goals for my students, especially concerning technology use, is to have them collaborate, connect and communicate (new addition: create).

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  1. I want to ask a tough question. I hope you won’t be offended as my intent is for you and I to both consider this carefully – your video reminds me of some of my classes when I taught middle school.

    If I had brought students to a library without digital tools, and asked them to complete the same task, what would have been different other than the tools?

    My view is that nothing would be different. And my concern there is then where is the investigation of the natural world? Where is the role of observation and investigation? Where is the *process* of science?

    What I observed is students learning about the products of science & this is part of scientific literacy, but perhaps an understanding of the process is equally important, if not more so. My concern is that when this kind of technology pervades all classrooms students will be surfing the web to learn about the process instead of actually *doing* the process.

    That is the bias of technology that scares me the most – that information will replace experience.

  2. No offense taken at all, I welcome the tough questions. Since the video focuses on the use of the technology as a tool because a lot of the tech is new and I want to see how it would work in my classroom, you are not getting to see the other things we do. For example, my 6th graders are learning about water pollution and salmon and the water cycle so that when we visit our creek and take water quality readings they have some background knowledge. We do field science as well as research science. I want to expose them to as many different experiences as I can. My 8th graders use the tech to blog about what they are learning. The next blog post will be to share the results of their current labs. So they are using observation of natural phenomena, in a laboratory setting with controlled variables. The blogging is to have them write about what they learn and to share with a broader audience than just us. I can’t imagine doing that type of research, computer work everyday all year.

  3. I’m glad you had an answer for that. However, I think this video is where we need to be cautious in how we portray ourselves to the outside world. If a politician sees this, they might think this is what all of education ought look like. Then they won’t have far to jump to making all of education online (it’s cheaper) and then experience really goes out the window.

    And as you note, doing this everyday all day would not be healthy.

  4. Ahh Jerrid, you always raise such great points! So I have to make sure that I post examples of the other things we do. I never even considered a politician reading my blog. lol

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew B. Watt and Brian B., Alfonso Gonzalez. Alfonso Gonzalez said: New blog post: Tech as a Tool Tech being used like books, paper & pencil. It's just a tool. #edchat #edtech #ipads […]

  2. […] in mid-November I wrote about how my students were using technology as tool in reference to the addition of iPads into my classroom. I was able to purchase 12 iPads with funds […]

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