Why teachers should embrace digital devices in the classroom

student tablet ipad
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France's recent decision to pass a law banning the use of cellphones, tablets and smart watches at school for children under 15 is just the latest example of moral panic around new digital technologies, according to a University of Alberta education researcher.

Suzanna Wong, an adjunct professor in the Department of Elementary Education, said digital devices are subject to the same backlash provoked by everything from the printing press to ballpoint pens, based on the reflexive distrust of a paradigm-shifting tool.

"It doesn't matter what tools you have, it's the pedagogy. How are you going to use that tool? How are you going to teach with it?" Wong said.

"I can see [a smartphone] as a very powerful teaching and learning tool. You have a camera so you can do video, you can document what you've learned, you can share what you've learned, you can explore what you've learned. I think teachers have to think of it that way, rather than as a disruption."

Wong said many students are bringing some level of technological savvy to school with them, and not building on that existing knowledge would be a missed opportunity for teachers and learners alike.

"I think we have to do a mind shift here. Teachers used to be the knowledge keepers standing at the front of the . I think now you have to collaboratively learn with students," she said.

Wong's research involves finding out how children are using digital devices in their daily lives in order to develop effective ways of integrating them in classroom learning. She also works with professor Linda Laidlaw in her Makerspace Literacy Lab, where they provide opportunities for future and current educators to explore how the multimedia functionality of these devices enables what she calls "multi-modal expressions of learning.

"Pre-service teachers need those kinds of introductions, and in-service teachers in their professional development need to have playing time to see how you can use iMovie to make a book report or to share what you've learned," Wong said.

She added that, though they may be in the minority right now, she knows many teachers who are doing innovative work integrating digital technology into their daily lessons.

"I know a young Grade 2 who actually taught her students to use a cellphone to record what they were thinking about their math lessons, about their writing, and to send the message to her, because she couldn't always get to every single child while working in a group. It was amazing."

Wong recently returned from an early childhood educators' conference in Budapest, Hungary, where she said she heard many colleagues express concerns about the addictive aspects of mobile technology. Though she agrees these may be legitimate concerns, she said she doesn't think they should outweigh the potential educational benefits. Integrating digital devices into would also offer an opportunity to instil in students the critical thinking they'll need to safely navigate the digital realm.

"As a teacher, I would be really keeping an eye on where students are getting their information from," Wong said. "I would need to teach them critical literacy skills. What are you reading and how do you know if it's true? That's really lacking in the classroom, and I'm not sure how many teachers are confident with those critical literacy skills."

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Citation: Why teachers should embrace digital devices in the classroom (2018, September 21) retrieved 23 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-teachers-embrace-digital-devices-classroom.html
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Sep 21, 2018
Much the same garbage.
There was no real resentment against the printing press or the ball point pen.
Elaborate and expansive claims about, for example, the methods of using a camera in a smartphone. But, face it, how many students will use it that way? They'll just make faces into each other's cameras. And the claim they will do video, document share. The school is supposed tom share the facts. And, during the time they're doing all this with the video, they could be learning more things on other subjects! This is just a witless sales pitch!
And how will a camera help get across, say, Pythagoras' Theorem. Or the quadratic formula?
All this talk about students learning and not depending on the teacher. Where has any significant number of average students managed to derive the quadratic formula on their own?
The claims about the new methods of learning are just a sales pitch!

Sep 25, 2018
I'm wondering what Richie Rich school has a 2nd grade class where every student has a cellphone. Relying on technology that's not equitably distributed as a pedagogical tool is going to leave poor students even further behind.

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