From my time spent working in placement and attending ECS classes at Ryerson, I have been faced with an ongoing debate of whether or not digital technology should be used in the classroom. It is hard to take sides since both technology and non-technology education have their own unique merits. Technology can expand perspectives, give new means of creativity and allow information to be accessed at the touch of a button. Non-technology can provide children with experiential learning as well as real and social experiences.
In this blog I will be advocating for the use of technology in the classroom and why as educators we need to embrace technology.
First let us take a look at why technology worries some people.
An article on media exposure stated that, “72% of children ages 0 to 8 years used a mobile device in 2013, up from 38% in 2011.” (Kabali, H. K., Irigoyen, M. M., Nunez-Davis, R., Budacki, J. G., Mohanty, S. H., Leister, K. P., & Bonner, R. L., 2015). That was a huge leap in technology use, and the article also implied that it is continuously increasing.
When so many children are using things like mobile devices, it is understandable that parents and educators are concerned about technologies harmfulness to growth and development.
Another study on media use noticed some alarming implications of passive technology usage. “Overexposure to traditional media use, such as watching TV, has been associated with obesity, sleep problems, aggressive behavior and attention deficits in preschool children.” (Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C., 2015, p.505). It makes sense that watching videos for hours takes away from quality exercise and outdoor experiences.
Although these articles point out some of the negative aspects of technology, we are seeing only the negative side effects of when technology is used POORLY.
Digital technology does not have to be a passive activity. Digital technology also can be used as a beneficial tool in a classroom to aid learning and create meaningful experiences. In the right hands of someone who embraces technology and knows how to use it, technology can create a better learning environment. An article advocating technology integration stated, “It has the potential to change the learning experience for participants from one of being passive recipients of an expert’s ideas of what should be taught and learned, to one where learners of all ages can actively navigate their own learning or co-construct knowledge with others (Dietze, B., & Kashin, D., 2013, p.3). Technology allows children to take the lead in their inquiry based learning. It also can be just as active and social as using any other tool within the classroom.
Technology is also something that we as educators cannot avoid. Children will always have access to digital technology and rather than trying to avoid and ignore it, we need to help guide children in proper use.”Technology will continue to advance and evolve. As educators we have a responsibility to reduce tensions that surrounds children’s play and technology.” (Dietze, B., & Kashin, D., 2013, p.9). Only with proper use will we see the benefits, just like with any other tool such as books or building blocks.
Overall the debate still continues on and in the end it is up to you to figure out what you think is best for children. Digital technology is still relatively new and there are not many studies which show irrefutable evidence that digital technology is either negative or positive. “while recently there has been an increase in literature studying handheld devices and the impact of these from a child developmental perspective it is nonetheless vital that more research is conducted to investigate the exposure of interactive media on the development of young infants over time.” (Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C., 2015, p. 513). Technology is a valid tool to use within the classroom and through proper use can enhance the learning of young children.
Dietze, B., & Kashin, D. (2013). Shifting Views: Exploring the Potential for Technology Integration in Early Childhood Education Programs. Canadian Journal Of Learning And Technology, 39(4). Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/698/375
Haughton, C., Aiken, M., & Cheevers, C. (2015). Cyber Babies: The Impact of Emerging Technology on the Developing Infant. JPR Journal of Psychology Research, 5(9), 504-518.
Kabali, H. K., Irigoyen, M. M., Nunez-Davis, R., Budacki, J. G., Mohanty, S. H., Leister, K. P., & Bonner, R. L. (2015). Exposure and Use of Mobile Media Devices by Young Children. Pediatrics, 136(6), 1044-1050.
(all photographs used come from Pixabay a non-copyright, free image user)