I’m Afraid…

I hope this post doesn’t confuse anyone, as my aim is to shed light on the very real feelings of someone who is both optimistic and pessimistic about technological advances in education (specifically).  In last weeks learning path, our lecturer asks us to make sure we are truly considering the merits of what we are reading and doing in this course and that we engage in an authentic way with both course material, and the processes associated with the course.

Upon reflection, I’ve felt it necessary to be truly honest.  I’m not sure if my previous posts show the true fear I have about the part ICTs play in our education system, specifically the classroom.  I am truly afraid.  I said just two days ago to my husband that “I’m not sure we should put AR into an iPad class next year – I’m worried she relies on it too much”.  He responded that I “have to get used to it- they’ll be used more and more as she gets older”.  The truth is I’m scared.  The future is unknown, and as a parent I don’t know if this incredibly powerful and exciting tool (the iPad) is something that is benefiting my daughter’s education or not.  I don’t know if what we have allowed her to participate in (the iPad class) is a good thing or not.  I don’t think that this question can be answered through a uni subject, or even through the course of a year of using the technology.   I may not ever know, or it may not be for 20 years, but I have to make the decision – is it right to be putting such a large emphasis on the use of the iPad in the classroom or not? My belief is that the tool itself isn’t positive or negative.  It’s a tool – like a spanner, it can’t do anything without human intervention.  So, I’m relying on good educators to ensure that the tool is used for the right things, at the right time in the classroom.  If I think about this, isn’t that what we do anyway? Whether there’s an iPad, a calculator, paint, pens, paper, scissors; we are relying on educators to use these tools at the right time in the right way.  How is the iPad any different??  But then, I can’t escape the fear I have when I see her using the iPad every night for “school work”.

So I’ve asked you to “Suck It Up” but at what cost?

It’s interesting to see my peers as we all reflect on our navigation through this study of ICTs and pedagogy.  I had already decided to reflect on the importance of addressing potential concerns when presenting new ICTs to children, and reading Megan’s Blog has furthered my thoughts.

Megan writes with passion as she reflects on the fears of many parents/educators when dealing with ICTs:

“Should we as teachers be encouraging the use of technologies that much, that students are losing what I see as important everyday skills, such as writing with a pen and paper?!”

These are the exact concerns that were expressed by parents as we were given the opportunity to volunteer our child’s participation in a BYO iPad program at her school.  I have to say, these were never my concerns.  So many parents and peers have expressed their worry that pen and paper will become extinct but I don’t believe this will ever be the case.  It’s my opinion that many would have had the same concerns when calculators were first put on the school booklist.  I wonder if they were concerned that children would never be able to mentally calculate once these were commonly used in classrooms, and what about when we were able to take them into classrooms? “Gasp!”.

However, these concerns are valid! Therefore, I think as educators, when introducing a new ICT to children, it’s important for us to see the potential concerns, and address these to allay parent’s fears.  Part of the first assignment for this ICT course is to present an online artifact and I plan on making some of my artifact dedicated to addressing potential concerns.  I believe this is an important approach to teaching – understanding the concerns of parents, and addressing these in a compassionate and understanding way.

There’s another great article about the use of iPads to transform the classroom by Ben Johnson on his blog.  Click on the image below to see his interesting point of view about appropriate use of iPads vs inappropriate use.

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The start of a new semester

I’ve just commenced another semester of Uni, and as I tackle 2 children, 4 subjects and working, I find it important to be organised.  In order to be organised for Semester 1, 2014, I’ve started working through subject introductory material.  Interestingly, this blog will form part of my assessment for an ICT subject.  Blogs fascinate me, as we use the platform to write anything from personal to professional, thoughts and musings to theories and research.  The audience is so varied, and almost intangible.  Who actually reads this? Who really finds what I have to say interesting?  Am I writing this for the benefit of an audience, or for selfish reasons – finding something cathartic in writing what’s on my mind.  I guess through the course of this semester I will explore this more, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the cathartic effects of blogging.

After viewing and reading all of the introductory material, I was interested in the information on the theory of connectivism (see the video link below).  While I haven’t read any further material on this subject, the video on connectivism was inspiring and engaging.  An observation I would make is that engaging in a connectivism style of learning is something that occurs in many ways, in many environments.

For example, I am a mother of a prep student, and spend time discussing some topics from my study with teachers at her school, other parents and staff.  These discussions provide a really authentic, meaningful insight into the various learning experiences of children, their families and educators.  I have also worked at a school where I regularly engaged in meaningful discussion with educators, parents and staff.  These discussions unfortunately aren’t on an rss feed.  I’m looking forward to the use of blogs in this course to hopefully document these discussions and experiences in a way that will enable others to engage in them and benefit from these authentic processes.

I was also struck by the statement in the introductory material that ICT is to be used to ENHANCE learning.  Interestingly, I have seen many examples where ICT is used in a “token” manner-  using youtube to play a video clip every morning to ensure ICT is incorporated in the students day.  Using ICT to enhance learning, and integrate it in such a way that students are more engaged, and involved in the process not simply viewers of the results is something I’m very interested and passionate about.  When integrated correctly, used to enhance learning, ICT will make the difference between 21st century learners ready to participate and lead in a technologically advanced society, or learner requiring additional training in the workforce in order to operate in society.