A response from someone who knows what he is talking about

My post above about using cell phones in teaching came from an aging wag (me) who admits to knowing nothing about the subject. I asked son Andy to comment. And he did. I bring his post from the comments section to the forefront for two reasons. First he knows what he is talking about, and second, many of you know him from when he toiled for half a decade at the salt mines of Parking Today.

Thanks Dad, for the invite. The danger with asking an educator to talk about education is that we can really get “into the weeds” yet that is also some of the fun. Having been a teacher for 11 years, an administrator for 6 years and a member of the parking industry for 5 years-I have some experience with the education industry and the technology that goes with it.

Technology is a tool and everyone who has ever used a tool believes that they are using it the best way they know how. I can not speak for the teacher described in the story, yet I can see some benefits for using technology this way. The first being that every student gets to answer the question. I am sure all of us remember the moment in class when the teacher asked a question and we would studiously stare at our desks and pray that the teacher did not call on us and then “zoned out” when the teacher did not call on us. Use of technology can require each student to answer and give the teacher much needed data on what is being learned. Yet I am talking about this in the most optimal situation and with the best of intentions. I would also hope that this is a tool used fairly infrequently and that it is only one of many options that the teacher has to use. Yet we all had teachers who relied on only one concept way too much.
Lecture (an education tool that has been around for 1000’s of years) can be the death of learning just as quickly as a cell phone. (“Bueller……Bueller……Voodoo economics”)
20 years ago technology was to be the savior of education and yet I have never thought of a tool as the savior of anything. It is how that tool is used. At our school (private, very affluent, college prep-95% of our students go to a 4 year university) students can not use cell phones during the school day (unless it is for a class purpose-the photography teacher teaches a unit on using cell phone cameras, etc.) and any other tech is to be used for a specific reason. The main reason is to make sure that students are “present” when they are at school. Makes sense yet I also know that there were plenty of classes that I was physically there yet not “present” for and I went to school when cassettes were all the rage.

My grandmother retired from teaching prior to my birth (I am 46 years old) and today she could still walk into a classroom on my campus and teach. So could Socrates. Actually the concept of the socratic seminar is making a comeback in education and is a great way to help students to learn and to show what they learn (these are different things). Yet I doubt either one of them could show a youtube clip, use kahoot to play an educational game, access many online books, or utilize many of the tools in our science lab….all of these are great new additions to the learning that can happen in a classroom due to technology. Tech should always be something that enhances and does not take away from yet that is always dependent on who is using it and what they are trying to achieve.

“Does (tech) help them get into Harvard or Stanford or Cal?” No, of course not, yet it can be a tool that can provide resources we did not previously have access to. I just watched 6 seniors at our school use technology to describe their Junior Fellowship projects. Over the summer the students put in 80 hours on individual projects (piano tuning, dress making, digital animation, etc.) and technology helped them to learn the how of what they were doing (communicate with experts around the world) and explain how they did it (videos of what they did), yet again it was just a tool. They had to learn and they had real live people supporting them.

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