Musings about Technology as Common Core Looms....

There are several perspectives to view when considering the role of technology in today’s modernized classrooms. Some perspectives are against an aggressive technology involvement while others think that technology is the key to student achievement. Teaching with technology is the most fair and effective support system for teaching and assessing all students in today’s modernized classroom. Although it is a difficult issue as society seeks to measure the actual impact of technology on education and learning, technology is beneficial to all students, although perhaps not for the same reason that society at large thinks.
There are a several arguable strands that involve a stance on technology implementation in a classroom. However, three strands are critical for this argument. The three strands are essentially pro-technology, anti-technology, and neutral on the issue. The pro group (iGeneration students and technology supporting teachers) supports technology usage in the classroom and are employers of technology in their personal lives. The con group is anti-technology in the classroom and their usage of technology in their personal lives is only an assumption. The neutral group is typically not concerned either way.
With the pro technology stance, there is the perspective of a new iGeneration and the fact that society has a major assumption that this new generation is even interested in new technology and all of its devices at all (Philip and Garcia 300).  The technology breeds the idea of authentic learning and the connection between student experiences and real life learning content (Snape 96). Also, schools simply do not embrace technology and signature pedagogies in tandem, which means that education, as a whole, will find it difficult to provide America’s generations with globalized, knowledge-based curriculum (Crippen and Archambault 158).
Although technology should be part of instruction, it does not have society’s full support. Technology is not the savior that it was thought to be and it has not yet gained its anticipated ability to develop students’ intelligence and dexterity (Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar 32). The importance of teacher and learner training and full support for the technology implementation is not to be ignored. Several arguments involve the lack of willingness to waste time on something that is not supported by professional training behavior that could further their knowledge and increase their efficiency (Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar 37).
There are several people that do not care about this issue. Those that are neutral on the topic and perhaps desire simply to argue about it have several things to add to the argument. Davis wrote about the fact that Socrates would not be able to teach in the classroom because teaching was not about teaching anymore, instead it was about how to run the technology (2). Another author argues that the challenge in using educational technology is not understood, and that is why these types of arguments are still occurring (Ng’ambi 652). Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer argue that bringing technology into the classroom does not make things work with perfect and seamless fluidity; instead it actually changes the entire instructional model in the classroom (17). In some cases, technology brings about a sort of reckoning; a flash where the teacher suddenly starts to question all previous actions (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer 17).
            Technology dwells in a place that is always in turmoil and flux. It is a child of change and therefore, has many opponents already. The problem with technology is that it is a small component of a very large shift. Using technology is like dieting, it sounds like a good idea, but it is very difficult and complicated to follow through and execute. Perhaps Heath and Heath say it better in stating that “the heart and the mind will always disagree, zealously” (5), perhaps this situation is no different. Technology has a bad reputation because it requires transformation across many levels (individual, organizational, societal, and technologically) that must work in unison to prevail (Heath and Heath 3).
Opponents to technology have a simple argument that involves time and money. One of the biggest issues with technology is time and money for professional development. The primary reason teachers fail with technology in the classroom is due to insufficient instructional tools and the lack of an ability to design and use technology-based instructional tools (Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar 32). Teaching with technology requires professional development and professional development requires funding. Additionally, teachers need support since there exists a laundry list of problems with technology that include a lack of current technology in the classroom, Internet connection issues, and problems making technology available to students too, and not just the teachers.
Technology as an institution certainly does not do itself any favors. Look closely at the “opposition” to the thesis statement; it is evident that those that oppose share the same issues. Most participants in a study by Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar reported common problems with Internet connections in their classroom (36). Moreover, opponents take exception with the idea of having their time wasted. Three of the most glaring of opposing teachers’ issues include limited access (lack of hardware and software), lack of technical support (no in-house support to handle immediate technology-caused issues), and lack of time (few teachers have time to explore, reflect upon, and interact with other technology users) during the school year to execute the systems needed to effectively teach with technology (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer 155).
            When dealing with people, one has to deal with feelings and beliefs. Opponents of the thesis statement have personal beliefs that must be measured since beliefs play an imperative role in situations where there is a momentous amount of ambiguity, such as with education (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer 36). If anyone feels that professional development will reflect absolutely on his or her ability to teach or conduct with technology, then such a detail should be taken into account (Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar 37). According to Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar many teachers fear the fact that many of their students know more about the technology than they do (39). Some of the opposition to technology breeds from an idea that teachers are now actually responsible for keeping up with the latest technology and the district’s administrators expects this behavior from teachers (Eristi, Kurt, and Dindar 35).
This argument is not simply about technology in a classroom. Therefore, there is an issue with education and part of the issue involves technology and its impact on pedagogy. There is a natural sort of existing opposition that, for numerous reasons, is not terribly concerned with the implementation and infusion of technology into the instructional infrastructure. The future that many in education have been waiting for has surely arrived. Tenhet says that education is a few years into another shift in the technology-driven educational paradigm (1).
Why is technology so important? How can teachers be supported as they try to use it? Does technology impact student learning and motivation? How will districts be able to fund the purchase of new technology and then additionally afford to pay for the required professional development? Perhaps part of the opposing populous is to be blamed for the condition of our education system and the lack of technology therein because they are technologically outdated and are unable or unwilling to motivate the technologically able iGeneration (Philip and Garcia 305). One thing is clear, technology, including connectivity, social media, and its other numerous components has caused a rift as well as a shift in the classroom experience (Tenhet 1).
Technology; in this case, the condition of being technological, is a phenomenon that can be easily molded into several educational contexts, including evaluations, confirmation of learning, and commentary on both (Snape 101). In contrast, teachers should be advised that using technology to unite students to real-world situations is not a guarantee of valid learning (Snape 96).
Learners and teachers alike can harness technology for collaboration. Ng’ambi states that there is evidence of knowledge construction when there is interaction between learner and technology (657). The list of possibilities is a substantial list that involves technology-driven learning activities like peer-editing via DropBox, film production, the use of smart phones, and the use of wikis and blogs to construct, edit, and share new wisdom (Ng’ambi 657). With technology, access to information has increased and material that was formerly disseminated by professors is now available (before class) for students to digest for themselves (Davis 4). Although there are opponents, they need to realize that technology is part of the next step in the evolution of teaching and learning (Davis 2). It is not going to go away.
People do not communicate with each other like they used to. The greatest argument for technology is the fact that email, texting, YouTube, social networks, and smart phones have literally changed the way society interacts with itself, shares information, and engages media (Philip and Garcia 301). It is the change in person-to-person interaction that practically demands that personally relevant technology finds its way into the classroom (Philip and Garcia 302). Because technology matters at home, it should matter at school. With technology, learning can extend out of the classroom and happen anytime, anywhere (Philip and Garcia 303). Also, Philip and Garcia recall that technologies created for convenience (smart phones) can be morphed into data gathering devices just like paper and pencil tests have given way to computer based examinations that can gather immense amounts of information on student performance (305). Keeping all of this in mind, how can technology in the classroom be a bad thing?
A significant negative issue with technology is its immense tendency to take so much time to set up and then execute during an instructional lesson (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer 60). When technology does not work, it could be argued that with the size of school budgets these days, means it usually will not work, the plans of the day and even the long range plans tend to be hindered (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer 61). A simple plan could easily be upended as teachers face technology that is faltering as they are simultaneously trying to describe attributes of an outcome (or objective), identify the key stages needed to develop that outcome, and even build a flowchart to map the road to the intended outcome (Snape 99).
Opponents of technology will say that it simply is not worth it. Learning a new technology only to watch it fail at mid-lesson is a waste of time. Additionally, making technology part of the path to the intended objective is complicated and liable to fail as students are directed to do things like, make a video of a chocolate maker executing the process of making a chocolate bear, visit a chemist and a gift shop in order to take pictures of possible gift-wrapping ideas, and then build a conceptual drawing of the gift-wrapping possibilities (Snape 100). How realistic is that? Such a question has been asked many times by numerous opponents of technology. Technology usage for the sake of technology usage is not the answer.
Technology has an arguable and viable place in America’s classrooms. It is now important to understand the need for technology in today’s classroom as an effective tool for teaching, learning, and assessment has very little to do with technology. It works because it is a tool and in the right hands it can change lives. This is because it makes a direct connection to students’ technology-riddled home lives. This paper is not long enough to cover all of the arguments and issues that surround the implementation of technology in the classroom and the unique set of issues and problems that it presents. Therefore, technology is simply an insignificant player in a very complicated production. The real reason that technology is needed is because it supports three very important ideals: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
People need purpose and motivation. Technology is just a supporting role in the reason that society gets out of bed every morning and faces the day. People want to do things themselves. They want to be good at it. They want it to mean something. Without technology, this process (especially in this day and age) is seriously hindered.
Technology is an all-inclusive part of society. It is sewn into the fabric of America’s culture. It facilitates a pure form of freedom and it allows people to do what they need to do on their own terms (Pink 83). Humanity’s primitive nature is to be probing and self-directed and look at how that fits into the use of technology. Technology gives people that self-directed quality that is part of their self-determination development and is a significant part of their human nature (Pink 85). Technology gives people a choice. Choice breeds autonomy and independence. Additionally, autonomy delivers innovation. Technology, in its numerous forms, supports the human need for autonomy. Technology lives and breathes innovation.
Think about what technology does for humanity and how it is evident that it supports autonomy, but what about mastery? Mastery is the desire to get better at something that matters (Pink 109). Mastery is related to motivation and motivation (especially in a classroom) is related to engagement (Pink 109). Look at how the iGeneration treats their technology. That is engagement at its finest.
Technology provides the avenue for achieving mastery. Be it in a classroom doing research, in the field collecting data, or working through the required coursework, technology supports the will to be a master of content and ability. Technology that works with fluidity breeds a sense of satisfaction. Fulfillment is related to mastery. Time and effort with the right technology tools gets the job done.
Every morning, humanity wakes up, swings its legs around and places its feet on the floor. Purpose is what makes a person stand up and start the day. Technology provides hyper-connectivity to the world. This is what people desire as they initiate a thinking process about their lives and their humanity, the meaning of their life, and their worth in the middle of it all (Pink 131).
Autonomy and mastery are concepts that facilitate drive in a person. Technology supports autonomous people that are seeking mastery in their lives. With autonomy and mastery comes purpose (Pink 131). Purpose provides energy for living and technology is threaded into numerous facets of human life (Pink 133). This discussion returns to technology and what it provides over and over again. Connectivity, provided by multiple technology tools, engages feelings of sustainable greater good (Pink 137), in other words, feelings of purpose.
People need to consider a few things when it comes to implementing technology into learning, teaching, and assessing. Technology alone is certainly not the answer to education’s woes. All readers should at least consider the tie between the hyper-connectivity and capacity that technology provides to humanity and mankind’s inherent need to attain autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Think about it. People spend a lot of time at school.
In the end, it is not about dehumanizing the educational setting with an overload of technology. Nor is it about harassing and belittling those who chose not to use technology in their classroom. Instead it is about reaching out to people and tapping the resources that are tied to who they are and bringing education back to inquiry-based and technology supported methods that compliment the need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Perhaps policy-makers should consider actually meeting the next generations where they already are…a technology-enhanced existence that seeks autonomy, mastery, and purpose!

Works Cited
Crippen, Kent J., and Leanna Archambault. "Scaffolded Inquiry-Based Instruction With Technology: A Signature Pedagogy For STEM Education." Computers In The Schools 29.1/2 (2012): 157-173. Education Research Complete. Web. 10 July 2013.
Davis, Rodney. "Socrates Can't Teach Here! Faculty And Student Attitudes Towards Technology And Effective Instruction In Higher Education." Review Of Higher Education & Self-Learning 3.10 (2011): 1-13. Education Research Complete. Web. 11 July 2013.
Erişti, Suzan Duygu, Adile Aşkım Kurt, and Muhterem Dindar. "Teachers' Views About Effective Use Of Technology In Classrooms." Turkish Online Journal Of Qualitative Inquiry 3.2 (2012): 30-41. Education Research Complete. Web. 9 July 2013.
Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. New York: Broadway Books, 2010. Print.
Philip, Thomas M., and Antero D. Garcia. "The Importance Of Still Teaching The Igeneration: New Technologies And The Centrality Of Pedagogy." Harvard Educational Review 83.2 (2013): 300-319. Education Research Complete. Web. 11 July 2013.
Pink, Daniel. Drive. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009. Print.
Ng'ambi, Dick. "Effective And Ineffective Uses Of Emerging Technologies: Towards A Transformative Pedagogical Model." British Journal Of Educational Technology 44.4 (2013): 652-661. Education Research Complete. Web. 10 July 2013.
Sandholtz, Judith Haymore, Cathy Ringstaff, and David Dwyer. Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press, 1997. Print.
Snape, Paul. "Quality Learning For Technology Education: An Effective Approach To Target Achievement And Deeper Learning." Problems Of Education In The 21St Century 38. (2011): 95-104. Education Research Complete. Web. 11 July 2013.
Tenhet, Troy. “Beyond School Walls: Connecting Students and Teachers Around the World.” The Huffington Post. 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 5 July 2013. 

Amazing Prezi Courtesy of Singapore

US Package Arrives in Singapore

With some fanfare, the US package of letters arrives!

Mr. Tenhet shares Titan Experiences (via ePals) at ISTE: PART TWO

Hi everyone,
Recently, in San Diego, California at the ISTE Conference I was able to share our amazing experiences with ePals and Skype with teachers from all over the world. I was able to talk about specific projects that included ones with Iceland and Norway. It was a lot of fun sharing and presenting. I was also able to do the media sessions for ePals. I think that the latest ePals project, called iSOLVE should be a global hit. Enjoy a few pics.

ISTE ePals Presentation 2012

I really enjoyed visiting San Diego last week and attending the ISTE Conference! Working with the ePals people was a lot of fun. I am attaching a few slides...Looking forward to greatness next year.