ISSUE: Should schools embrace Technology?

7 pairs of students created the following consensus statements on this very issue


When examining the arguments on embracing technology, it is important to understand that technology is not to be excluded but that a developmentally appropriate and gradual integration of technology into the learners’ lives is most suitable. The purposeful and intentional development of online resources must allow for students to have access to critical information, work collaboratively with peers, and engage in authentic tasks. At the same time, the psychological and physiological implications must be recognized when determining the use of technology resources. Synthesis While both articles provide unique arguments, we believe that the introduction of intentionally designed online resources can be introduced earlier than high school wherein a developmentally thoughtful approach is utilized. Through a framework based on these principles, both access to online resources and skills (such as technology literacy) can be used while giving opportunity for authentic experiences and the moral development of students.

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Consensus: Our position is that technology is an important tool for schools to integrate, but schools must also take into account the developmental and social needs of their students. The gradual integration of technology into learner’s lives is the ideal framework for effectively utilizing technology in schools. When children are small, oftentimes the integration of technology brings with it far too many risks to justify any added benefits of the use of that technology. For example, physically, a young child’s vision is not fully developed until the age of 11. Over-reliance on screen time can affect that development. In terms, of children’s emotional development, they are not emotionally prepared to expand their circle of influence beyond their local peer groups to the global community of the internet. This can lead to issues of bullying, lack of empathy, inappropriate sexual interactions. They are not ready to safely navigate the sometimes complicated waters of the internet. Additionally, their cognitive development is not ready to adequately utilize the benefits of the internet while avoiding the pitfalls. Also, too much time spent on virtual interactions can stunt language development. Authentic experiences are necessary to foster in our schools in order to prevent such detrimental effects (for example, nature deficit disorder). However, we can not ignore that in order to achieve success in this increasingly online world, we need to also provide learning opportunities which foster ethical and moral facilities within both the online and face-to-face world, as well as engender critical consumption and analysis [...More...]

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Schools should embrace technology with a few caveats: including an understanding of technology into teacher education, introducing technology incrementally as developmentally appropriate, and expanding the classroom to become a community of learning incorporating technology. First, teacher education should include being highly qualified not only in subject areas but also in utilization of technology. They should be able to understand how to appropriately integrate technology according to the pedagogical goals. Second, technology should be introduced at a developmentally appropriate level. This would include the physical set up of the classroom and the technology itself. For example, having young children sitting across from one another as they collaborate/work virtually. This would allow them to see the physical response of their partner and make the connection. Multiage groupings should be used to compensate for differences in physical, emotional, cognitive, and language differences. Each learning community should define morality and ethics and incorporate them into their technology learning activities for relevance. Third, the school should be viewed as a learning community. Technology could be introduced in the schools but also parents and caregivers could be invited to work with their child. This would further enhance the equalization aspects of technology. Technology is a large financial investment that is better handled on a group scale than on an individual scale that discriminates. Having a learning community enhances goals of lifelong learning and further develops the life skills of children and caregivers. Additionally, working on technology activities allows children and families collaboratively define personal values like [...More...]

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Our position is that immersion in age-appropriate technology tools within the classroom setting has the potential to lead to substantial gains both in content knowledge and in the technological literacy needed to produce 21st century citizens. Integration of technology in curriculum should be methodical, intentional and necessary, meaning that the tools employed fit the desired outcomes. Authentic environments immerse students and positively influence motivation and teach students how technology helps humans solve problems. When technology allows us to create a more authentic environment, it should available in schools. However, technology can create an environment with unnecessary distractions. In this case, technology should be available with caution. Toward this end, there is a need for more precise research in attention and distraction.

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We believe that… Technology should be embraced when and where it serves the greater purposes and outcomes we set for our students. It need not be viewed as a detrimental threat to the inter-personal, personal, emotional or cognitive development of children. Students indeed need to learn how to ?become human? in schools and in society. This entails their socialization into the culture at large through face-to-face personal interactions and ?strengthening their … inner resources,? in addition to using the tools of the day to reach their actualizing potential. If those tools are dehumanizing, overly complex, or beyond their cognitive and emotional maturity, they are inappropriate choices for those students. However, if such tools are used as a natural extension of the concrete learning environment, they can enrich the students? understanding of the topic at hand, provide resources they may not otherwise access, and effectively deepen their interactions with other students. Never should technology take the place of the vital human interactions that shape, develop, challenge, encourage and motivate us; indeed if technology could offer all of these, all learning would be virtual. In short, these are not mutually exclusive options, but instead both contain valid perspectives and suggestions on how to reach the ultimate goal of providing the best education for our students.

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Further studies and research are required to form a formal coherent opinion. Based on the articles available The Overdominace of Computers (Monke) and WISE Science (Linn, Slotta), our current position is: Point 1: In general, there should be less emphasis on technology use at an early age and more emphasis of ?Essentials in early years? Experiences such as relationships, outdoor activity, unstructured play, hands-on-activity, and conversation all of which would support students in developing;. Point 2: To help prepare students to the outside world we would employ ?Just In Time Training.? This would cover the essential skills that students need at the time when it is most needed. By waiting until the crucial moment would allow students to be prepared for the task when they need it, yet may be overwhelming. Point 3: Because ?Just In Time Training? could be overwhelming we do see that students would benefit to some structured exposures to technology. The basic concept of linked coherent learning could be utilized on a limited basis to create authentic learning opportunities and connect students to outside sources enabling them to construct new knowledge. Programs such as the WISE Science study would be beneficial on a limited basis to make these authentic connections. Questions/additional information: We would be interested to see if it was the incorporation of technology, or a novel task that improved student learning. We would like to see additional research on effectiveness of WISE in improving student outcomes. We would also like to see more supporting [...More...]

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Schools should embrace technology as long as it’s incorporated responsibly by a skilled facilitator that has planned properly to meet the educational objectives of the lesson. Technology doesn’t preclude human competencies like self discipline, good judgment, and empathy from being taught in the classroom. In fact, if used wisely, technology can enhance these important functions of education, allowing students to be expose to the viewpoints and research of others. Technology allows us access to novel resources such as exposure to experts, research, venues for communication, and various multimedia resources. In addition, online resources help cash-strapped schools deal with budgetary issues by providing access to these materials. Finally, embracing technology in the education system helps all students take advantage of technological resources that they may not have access to outside of school, thus narrowing the digital divide.

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