How about we just Google it?

Tuesday evening’s first debate was incredibly intense! The topic focused on whether schools should be teaching anything that can be Googled. Both the Agree and Disagree teams put forth relevant information and spoke about realistic examples that do occur daily within the school setting. This made it very difficult for me to determine exactly what my stand point is. I feel that both sides shared valuable points.

Within the 21st century, almost everything that is taught within schools can be supported through the use of Google. From specific research topics to basic skills, students have the ability to decipher information quickly through the World Wide Web. I do not believe Google is responsible for the learned helplessness that exists in today’s society but at the same time I do not want to see it banned from the classroom, because it is still a valuable research tool if used appropriately. It is essential for teachers to educate their students about how to use Google within an educational setting. Teachers requiring research assignments from their students need to do explicit “research” teaching skills.

In the article “How Google Impacts The Way Students Think”, it refers to three major points which I found to be very accurate in the way our students are impacted by having access to Google: 1. Google creates the illusion of accessibility 2. Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points 3. Being linear, Google obscures the interdependence of information. In order for our students to be successful within their schooling experience, we need to teach students basic skills that allow them to show some independence in order to resolve the task at hand, rather than rely so comfortably for Google to provide them with the answers they seek. During the debate, Luke had mentioned the term “Googleable skills” and how teaching students essential basic skills are valuable to their development and will maximize their full learning potential. However, by allowing students to simply rely on Google as a search engine, they are unable to develop critical thinking skills. As stated in the article “How the Internet is Changing Your Brain”, “Our brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking but if we rely on Google to store our knowledge, we may be losing an important part of our identity” (p. 3).

Within our first debate, we spoke about how technology is a tool that can either be perceived positively or negatively. Teachers can educate students about how to use these tools effectively in order to assist with the learning process, but not to be the end result or solve problems. Furthermore, teachers can demonstrate how Google can be used in order to brainstorm about a particular topic or even explain when it is a suitable time to use Google as a research tool. As mentioned in Jeremy Black’s Blog, he states “Google serves as a jumping off point to take and refine ideas to improve one’s own skill set”. Like Jeremy, I happen to enjoy cooking very much and consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie. Therefore, I also use Google when it comes to looking for new food inspiration and delicious recipes. Personally, I’ve come across many recipes retrieved from Google that have been very tasty but also terrible. Overall, by experimenting with new recipes through the use of Google, I have developed a skill for cooking and am able to identify the food recipes I know I will enjoy or steer away from.

Therefore, through the process of curiosity, forming questions, trial and error, and practice of reflection, we can encourage students to think critically and help them understand the importance of higher level thinking and developing problem solving skills. Google is a great tool, but it is not the answer to all that we seek.

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Technology enhances learning, but are we prepared to use it?

First off, I would like to say thank you and congratulations to the two teams who professionally debated the topic “Technology in the classroom enhances learning”. Both teams did such a good job and I must say, I took away many points which I had never paid attention to before; such as the amount of funds that Regina Public pays yearly simply on the integration of technology devices and the regular maintenance these devices require. Both teams presented strong factual information and I have to admit I left the meeting with mixed emotions. However, I do want to believe that technology can enhance student learning.

It is evident that technology within the classroom presents both positive and negative attributes. However, we must first acknowledge the fact that technology in itself presents a stigma that it can either be a productive tool or a major distraction within the classroom. I do agree that technology is a positive tool, especially for students who struggle with learning disabilities and require additional assistance. Tools such as iPads or lap top computers can assist students with low fine motor skills, where they may find greater success through the use of technology. Within the debate, we were informed about the many ways that technology can be implemented to support learning. Simply having access to iPads, computers, or smart boards does not account for integrating technology. It is ultimately up to teachers to be mindful about the types of technology that will benefit their students. For instance, would a Google document effectively support a classroom community or would it lead to singling out the students who do not possess technology devises in their home? Would creating a classroom blog or a website be an effective platform for students to create and share content by posting animations, videos and photos, all of which are known to help empower individuals to develop their own sense of creativity and identity.

Moreover, I strongly agree with the point raised during the debate about there not being enough trained teachers to effectively support technology within the classroom. When I reminisce about my time spent in elementary school, I do not recall technology being integrated within our daily lessons. In fact, the only memory of technology I do recollect was going to the computer lab once a week to practice appropriate typing skills (which I never used seeing as we performed everything using paper and pencil) followed by playing Oregon Trail.

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Furthermore, when I look back to my time spent doing my post-secondary degree, I do not recall taking more than one Ed Tech course. Personally, by the time I graduated with my post-secondary degree, I can say that I was not prepared to begin technological learning strategies within the classroom. Perhaps part of teachers Professional Development should include Ed Tech training, so teachers can learn how to effectively include technology in the classroom to enhance learning. With technology advancing every day, so is the assumption that all teachers are tech-savvy as well as up to date with the latest apps and social media programs. But for teachers who feel they need a little extra help integrating technology to enhance learning, consider watching this helpful video.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that integrating technology in order to enhance learning can be beneficial yet also time consuming. It can be difficult to include technology into a lesson when teachers are spending too many minutes getting students logged onto devices as well as redirecting. However, technology will continue to present itself as a positive or negative tool. We must be open to the idea that while technology is being used to assist with professional development for teachers, it can also be used to enhance student learning.

Thank you again everyone! I look forward to the next set of debates!