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Technology - Positive or Negative?

Is Technology Helping or Harming My Students?

Sep 29, 2017 2017-09-29

By Mike McGowan

When a new school year starts, it is not uncommon to see old computer labs converted to state-of-the-art STEM labs or Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, robots, and 3D printers throughout a building. There are many new and exciting technology tools continually at the disposal of educators. But before you partake in the latest tech tools, I encourage you to pause and reflect on how the technology impacts instruction. How do you know if the cool new tech toys are improving your students learning or harming them? It is important to be open to the idea that what is "hot" in education might not always work for your students, and even understanding that what is working for one classroom or one teacher might not work for you.

Before you begin using technology in your classroom, it is helpful to recognize three potential effects tech tools can have on your students:

1. Positive: The best outcome for technology use is when your students are positively affected, such as through increased levels of engagement and collaboration.

2. Negative: A negative impact is when technology is used as a babysitter, such as when students sit in front of a computer screen to play games with no follow up or real desired outcome.

3. Neutral: While there is nothing inherently wrong with a neutral outcome because it doesn't harm a student, it also doesn't necessarily help. When technology is used as a substitution for something that could be done without technology, such as typing a paper instead of writing it, it is an example of a neutral impact.

So the question remains, how do you know what effect your technology use is having on your students? One way to evaluate the use of technology is to analyze whether it is making the lives of your students easier, enhancing student learning, and supplementing the teaching process.

Another key factor to examine whether or not technology use in your classroom is making a positive impact is to look for small changes in your learning environment. Unless you are assessing for technology proficiency you won't necessarily or easily see technology directly increasing student achievement. However, you will likely see changes that impact student learning, which in turn will impact student achievement.

Examples include the following:

  • If the use of technology increases student engagement in your classroom.
  • If students who were previously disengaged are more interested or attentive because they can use a device to take an assessment, or show a level of understanding of math concepts because they get to program a robot.
  • If you notice that attendance is up and students want to be in your classroom because they know they can utilize technology to demonstrate proficiency, such as by shooting a video or recording a song explaining what they learned.
  • If students come to school excited to share what they have created on their own at home when in the past you struggled to get them to bring in completed homework.
  • If you have shy students who want to be the first to demonstrate or present on a project they created or built.

Having a technology-driven outlet to show you what they learned is often enough to re-engage students in education. Technology can give students a new sense of energy, help them break out of their shell, and have a sense of purpose in education they didn't have before.

New technology is exciting, but we owe it to our students to reflect on the use of too much technology. We need to be able to ask ourselves, will the use of this tool give my students positive experiences that increase their level of understanding and engagement? If you can answer "yes" to this question then enjoy the use of that technology. If we are using technology just to use technology we are not helping ourselves or our students. Technology should be used to help our students learn, grow, and become twenty-first century learners.

Mike McGowan is the technology director for Sunnybrook School District 171 in Lansing, Illinois. Mike also serves on the Executive Board of Illinois Computing Educators (ICE). Mike has been in education for 15+ years as a teacher, administrator, and technology director. Mike's goal is to make sure teachers have the tools they need to help students reach their potential through the use of technology integration in education. You can find Mike presenting at conferences on a variety of education technology topics, on Twitter @MikesTechCloset, or on his website

Digital Literacy Educational Technology Technology Academic Achievement 21st Century Themes

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sara jennifer
Oct 05, 2017 at 7:27:18 am

informative post its really



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