Saturday, December 27, 2014

I wonder. Do the benefits of educational technology outweigh the risks?

This is the conversation that got me thinking:

A teacher friend that I respect, was talking about math homework.  She said, “I don’t send those pages anymore because I’ve had too many complaints.”

We asked her about the complaints, and discovered that some parents thought the math was too easy for their kids, it was just busy work.  Other parents thought it was too hard and took too long.

I shared that I have had this concern in the past (as both a parent, and as a teacher reflecting on the homework I send).  I offered that the IXL math program the PTA pays for is a great compromise.  I tell parents at conferences that I know the math pages are perfect for a small group of my students, and that instead of sending individual homework for each of my kids I send reminders about this online program that adjusts to the individual needs and skills of students.  Students can find both challenge and practice.

This thoughtful (full of thinking) friend said that if she received the assignment of math practice online for her own children she would not be very pleased.  Her children wouldn't be doing this homework.  

When I asked her why? She said that she would not assign “screen time”.  That it is harmful for kids.

My thoughtful friend, has got me thinking.  These are genuine questions, and I hope someone will answer them.

What are the dangers of screen time for students?

Technology is a tool. When is it the best tool?  

I used to make lots of lists.  I remember thinking that if the list of pros was longer than the list of cons, the choice would be made clear.  Then, I discovered that all items placed on this scale are not of equal weight.  But, it’s a place to start.

Pro-Educational Technology

Highly motivating
Holds focus and attention
Communication tool
Collaborative tool
Creative tool
Access to data, knowledge, ideas
Scaffolds inabilities
Con-Educational Technology

Impact on the developing brain
Eye damage