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Is Technology the Be-All and End-All?

Cable in SpaceThere are so many technological applications and new techno gadgets to use in teaching that the average teacher definitely can’t keep up! The push to incorporate technology in the 21st Century classroom to educate students for the future world can be uncomfortable for those who are not tech savvy and don’t particularly want to be tech experts. For others, using technology is a ‘no brainer’ because for them it’s an integral part of their lifestyle. It’s true that technology is not going away and that our students will need to be technology literate adults, but there are other essential skills that are needed for a well-rounded education.

What essential skills should every student learn regardless of the subject being studied?

A student must learn information in particular subjects, but they must also learn these essential skills regardless of the subject area: socialization, communication, time management and critical thinking. A student must engage in social interaction with other students while completing a project of some sort. Whether an oral presentation or written assignment, which may include the producing of a technology-based product, learning the conventions of socializing is important; for example, knowing how to talk to each other appropriately while in a collaborative setting or how to resolve a conflict with a group member when it arises.

How are socialization and communication linked?

Technology doesn’t always have to be the vehicle for teaching the subject matter and these essential skills. Live, face to face (F2F) communication involves social skills that are not necessarily relevant online: listening to a person speaking without interrupting, using eye contact to gain trust (unless culturally inappropriate), understanding and responding to body language, and being appropriately assertive are all beneficial behaviours in F2F communication. Sitting in front of a computer for hours a day is not only physically unhealthy but socially unhealthy as well.

Why is time management crucial?

If you have effective time management skills—being able to set and achieve a reasonable goal and complete a task within the time frame given—you will be an asset to yourself and any potential employer. What employer wants an employee who can’t be efficient with their time, achieving the maximum possible output? Isn’t that a no-brainer! If you won’t be an asset to an employer, you certainly won’t be an asset to yourself as an entrepreneur. Learning how to manage larger, more sustained tasks over a set period of time is a key skill regardless of the subject.

Are critical thinking skills required for all students?

Developing critical thinking skills will not be the same for every person because everyone has a different capacity for higher order analysis. There are some who may never develop these skills; they may not understand implicitly stated information or the explanation of it. In fact, they may even think you’re out to lunch with your explanation of a theme or metaphor. There are many fields, however, where critical thinking skills are crucial, so students that are being educated for these fields must be engaged in learning activities to challenge their thinking at a challenging academic level.

What constitutes a well-rounded education?

Being able to socialize and communicate effectively F2F, effective time management, and critical thinking skills are all important components of a well-rounded education, but using technology is necessary as well. Eric Sheninger, a tech savvy New Jersey principal, who is an advocate of authentic learning experiences believes that “attributes of effective authentic learning experiences” are relevant and meaningful to the learner, make real-world connections, are collaborative, are prepared for an identified audience, are open-ended, and involve having a defined role (Eric’s Blog).  These attributes are specifically significant as well to what we want students to be able to do as adults in our modern society; however, if we can integrate technology into the teaching of these essential skills, we will have the best of both worlds.

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13 comments to Is Technology the Be-All and End-All?

  • This post was mentioned on Twitter by techise . techise said: Is Technology the Be-All and End-All? – English Teacher Support … http://bit.ly/cRhuk8

  • Hi Kim,

    Well said! Having the best of both worlds *is* essentially the crux of raising a well rounded, well versed individual. No matter how hard some may resist, technology is not only a part of our lives, but a growing part of our lives.

    Increasingly our cars, homes and work are embedded with technology. Minimizing that critical part of an individual’s education is simply stunting their growth and handicapping their future.
    .-= Linnea´s last blog ..Creating Compelling Content =-.

  • Kimberly

    Educating children has changed in the 21st century with incorporating advance technology and computers. Do children become so absorbed with technology that they start losing their socialization skills? Thank goodness for teachers to help apply technology with the integration of F2F communication. So important to find a happy balance of the two.
    .-= Jane´s last blog ..Why did you Become An Entrepreneur? Part I =-.

  • CheekyLitTeach

    Hi Jane,

    Some students are very tech involved while others are quite detached. It’s surprising that so many are actually disinterested in technology and don’t like using a computer even though they love their cell phone or ipod. Striking a balance is important for both groups of students because the one group needs the F2F socialization and the other needs to be more tech savvy.

  • Yes, both are equally important and should be taught equally. Unfortunately I feel that social skills can be lacking these days but whether this is the fault of technology is another question.
    .-= Rachel Hall´s last blog ..Online Business – How Big Is Your Why? =-.

  • Kimberly,

    From what i have seen with my two children, i think Technology has enhanced and helped them and has not had impact on social interaction, i think its just a different approach, what i mean, when i was growing up we had no email, texting, etc, instead we just use the phone, and meet each other outside. Today my older son uses MySpace, texting and email and still does what i do at meeting his friends in person and socializes, My Daughter age 6 uses computer for education and has play days etc…
    .-= Chris Bernardo´s last blog ..How to Take Benefit from a Big Launch =-.

  • Kimberley,
    I just finished out my first year teaching a Life Skills Class at an Alternative High School. I found it so sad that my students could not write or spell–they used text spelling in their essays! I think it is really important to make sure that kids today don’t miss out on certain things that technology overshadows.. and yes find and create that balance. That may just be the biggest challenge of our time…I am going to have to think about active steps I could take to make sure both sides of the coin get a shine…Thanks for making me think…
    .-= Rebecca Johnson´s last blog ..Tapping for Overwhelm =-.

  • CheekyLitTeach

    Chris,

    Very good points with actual usage examples.

    Rebecca,

    There is such a range of abilities in high school and a life skills class is going to have a much greater proportion of low language skills. (Isn’t it interesting that if you weren’t interacting with some of these students in a classroom setting that you would never suspect that they have difficulty with writing!) With every class I teach, I try to impress upon my students that there is a difference in language expectations depending on your writing purpose and audience. It’s perfectly appropriate to use short forms and text ease in informal writing with friends, etc., but if you are writing for a formal, professional purpose your writing should follow formal writing conventions. They seem to accept the difference.

    I do believe that there will always be people who have writing difficulties; it’s only in our modern culture that we’ve come to expect every student to meet certain academic benchmarks. In the past, students who were not proficient or improving as expected, they did not continue with secondary education but immediately entered the workforce. I believe there wasn’t the stigma that there is now for not continuing with higher education; more often than not, people didn’ t get a higher education.

    Some food for thought. Are we on the right track? Not sure.

  • Lisa

    I’ve always said balance is the key, and there most certainly is a place for the intergration and promotion of modern technology in our education system!

    This said, sadly “F2F” interaction is rapidly taking a back seat to communication via technology (i.e. text messaging, instant messaging etc.). Missing is the tone of voice, facial expression and body language which can prevent misunderstandings and help effectively communicate what it is the person is actually trying to say.

    I have had the opportunity to interact with many students in a work related setting and have observed that although students may excel in the knowledge and use of what our latest technology offers, there seem to be many who lack social fundamental skills.

  • CheekyLitTeach

    We certainly learn to use visual cue and mannerisms through F2F interaction, so if less of it is occuring it could be that there’s a greater learning curve in this area. Thanks for life-connecting comment Lisa.

  • Watching how quickly my toddler takes to technology, I don’t really think it will be much of a challenge for him to learn. Relationships and communications, on the other hand, will serve him in everything he does for the rest of his life including getting a tech job or connecting people online.
    .-= Wendy Maynard´s last blog ..Persistent Marketing Pays Off: It’s Where the Magic Happens =-.

  • Good insight Wendy. Teaching relationships is an active process whereas using technology, for my children as well, seems to be as easy process.

  • I don’t think that any technology can replace all F2F education. I agree with your definition of what constitutes a well rounded education, as well as Mr. Sheninger’s statements on authentic learning experiences.

    As a information technologist, I applaud the changes in the industry, especially as it applies to education. Yes, the changes will keep on coming. As an information technology educator, I know that it is not the intent of technology to replace F2F, but to provide a set of tools, via multiple media, to enhance the learning environment and to leverage the collective knowledge of educators.

    Kimberly, thanks for a great topic and post!

    -James
    .-= James Hampton´s last blog ..Stop Procrastinating – Start Your Home Based Business! =-.

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