To quote the American actress and singer Mae West, “Too much of a good thing can be taxing.” This quote is very true when it comes to classroom technologies. We are bombarded every time we log onto the computer with advertisements for new technologies to be used in schools, testimonials of how great a new product is, an app for this, or a tool for that. We are overloaded! We could use every one of those technologies or tools in the classroom with great success, but are we using too much just for the sake of using technology?
As with everything else, moderation is key. The classroom today seems to have “hyperadopted” technology. Every new and exciting innovation is being added into teachers’ lesson plans. It is great if these innovations expand the students’ learning, but if it is just for the sake of using the technology that the school system has provided us then we are doing it all wrong. Technology use in the classroom should be balanced with traditional techniques. Matt Miller, author of Ditch That Textbook summed it up quite nicely, “The mindset that fuels digital learning is: Good teaching trumps good tools.” For a student to learn in a classroom there should be opportunities to use technology, but also to use traditional methods.
We’ve all been burnt out on pencil and paper work, as a student as well as being a teacher. We have to make sure that our students do not experience that same burn out with technology. My school uses Flocabulary. It is a great tool that teaches concepts by creating catchy songs that appeal to students. There are some classes that use this program on a daily basis. The same students who were so excited at first are now dreading the warm up for the day because it involves Flocabulary every single day. The same thing is true for the intervention program, MobyMax. It is great to remediate those areas that the students need to improve upon, but do we have to use it every day?
Imagine waking up on Groundhog Day every morning. Just like Phil Conners in the movie, it gets old and predictable. Our students need to be energized and excited when they come into the classroom. It is our job as teachers to keep things exciting and new. If we let the computers be the teachers in our classrooms, everyone is going to suffer. Students should see you as the expert in the classroom, not the computer.
I encourage you to be mindful of your technology use. Be objective when evaluating new technologies and apps. Ensure that the programs or apps you choose to use have value and purpose. Don’t let a computer replace you. A computer is not going to touch the hearts of those students who seem untouchable. A computer is not going to read body language of students who need more encouragement. Don’t take the humans out of the classroom. Use technology, but use it only if it improves our teaching, don’t replace good teaching with a machine.
By: Stephanie Durham
I am the Media Specialist at Dade Middle School in Trenton, Georgia. I have worked as a media specialist for the last 12 years. Prior to that I was a 6th grade reading teacher. I have a Bachelor Degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Multidisciplinary Education PreK-8, a Master Degree from the University of Alabama in Educational Administration and Leadership, a Master Degree from the University of West Alabama in Library Media, and an Education Specialist Degree from the University of West Alabama in Library Media. I have partnered with a colleague to create the Googly Girls. We are in charge of technology professional development at our school. The plan is to move this forward to the district level. We have presented several professional developments at our school and have presented at the Murray State Summit in Murray, KY.