On Tuesday, we discussed the history of audio/visual technology and its impact on education. From blackboards to overhead projectors, technology has advance greatly within schools. Currently, teachers have access to technological devices such as Smart Boards, IPads, and laptop computers to assist with their day to day lessons. However, before the advancement of technology within schools and in the work place, many children were learning through watching educational television programs. The purpose of watching educational programs was so children could learn while being entertained. In many cases, educational programs are still used today as a support to learning in the classroom but it is not intended to replace formal education in school. Therefore, the questions in my blog this week are: Have educational television programs encouraged students to obtain information only if they are motivated to do so? Have educational television programs created specific standards for learning?
As a child, I can remember watching educational television programs such a Bill Nye, Magic School Bus and Sesame Street. I can recall these programs as being quite entertaining but I realize now that they do not embody a realistic school setting. These programs demonstrate culturally diverse classrooms which is refreshing but portrays unrealistic events. For instance, it would be nice to go on a field trip every day in a magic school bus, but are we to ignore the fact that Ms. Frizzle is putting her students in dangerous situations? In regards to Sesame Street, Postman states “We now know that ‘Sesame Street’ encourages children to love school only if school is like Sesame Street”. Furthermore, “If you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them”. Although I agree with this quote, I feel it is becoming more and more difficult to inspire and motivate children to learn with all of the new technologies they are exposed to outside of school, such as cell phones, video games, social media and television. Teachers are constantly searching for new strategies and tools to capture the attention of their students but even these ideas expire before we find ourselves searching all over again. This process can be exhausting when we see ourselves in constant competition with new forms of technology. With this being said, I do not believe Postman would agree with the push towards BYOD and the integration of smartphones in the classroom. Sure smartphones can be productive tools if they are used appropriately and while under supervision. However, smartphones have also proven to be a distraction within schools and in the work place. If we are to integrate technology within the classroom, we need to be assured that its use will be successful according to the task it is being used for.
Although technology is a helpful tool for learning, it is important for teachers to adapt their teaching practices and to remember that we don’t have to use tech all the time, children learn in many ways and we need to provide many ways for them to learn. We need to be mindful of the ways in which technology may be useful but also how we can be productive in our teachings without relying on technology. As a child, I copied notes from a black board every day and although I was not completely entertained, I still obtained the information I needed to know. To this day, I do not believe I had a bad or boring school experience. Technology was minimal and I do not feel I lacked experiences. In fact, I had a great appreciation for technology because it was insignificant.