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SEED Between the Lines

Changing the Narrative of Tech in the Classroom

“No phones.”

“Put your phones away.”

“If I see that phone out…”

If you’re a millennial, you’ve heard statements like these throughout your high school career. If you’re a Gen Z kid, these statements probably sound familiar to you too. Until recently, tech in the classroom was a BIG no-no.

Phones, and technology in general, specifically in the classroom environment, have had a bad rep since they were introduced to us. Excitingly, however, we’re finally starting to see a shift in the perception of technology in the classroom.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as with everything, there are pros and cons to the idea of incorporating technology in daily routines. For me, the pros outweigh the cons, if used correctly.

As I said in my last blog, we, as teachers, are responsible for creating relatable content. By relatable, I mean content that actually interests our students and can be used to teach a broader more impactful lesson based on the real world. How can we possibly be relatable without using something our students, as well as seemingly the entire world, are GLUED to in reality?

We, as a society, utilize our phones, laptops, iPads, desktops, etc. etc. etc. for everything. These tools keep us connected, inform us on everything, and keep us organized. It hasn’t always been like that… so let’s take it back to the beginning. Well, not exactly THE beginning, but my beginning.

Where Tech Started- For Me

I went to middle and high school in the early 2000s. Shout out to the 90s babies! This was the age of overhead projectors, interactive white boards, and, once in a while, PowerPoints.

At that time, there was no, or very limited, risk when it came to technology that students had access to. It was mainly teacher- led, and as students, we couldn’t really get ourselves into much trouble during the lesson because there wasn’t much for us to access. Receiving a phone with internet access wasn’t something my peers and I generally had until later in high school. And even then, phones were never used for educational purposes. That’s when the “Put your phones away” narrative began.

As a student, I was always so excited when my teachers or professors would share new technology, whether it be hardware or software, in the classroom. It enhanced my learning experience. I felt the same way as a teacher. I would see my students' engagement immediately increase when technology was a part of the lesson. I attribute this to relatability.

The Tech Shift

When I graduated high school and went on to college at The University of Tampa, resources in the classroom advanced. Students brought their own laptops, iPads, or similar hardware to class. At the age of 18- 21, as students, we’re given seemingly more responsibility and trust. What we do with our technology is up to us, and professors are less inclined to monitor our devices. I get it, we’re adults, we should have accountability.

I wonder, however, why that accountability isn’t taught sooner, especially in high school? Why is the narrative to eliminate student devices for years leading up to college, and then suddenly, it shifts?

Here’s my point- advances in technology gives us access to more educational resources that have the ability to significantly enhance lessons, especially in the secondary classroom. By utilizing student devices, we’re able to not only enhance lessons, but simultaneously, teach students accountability. By instilling trust in our students, and giving them the opportunity to utilize devices appropriately, we’re teaching them valuable real- world skills.

From my experience, as of a few years ago, we were at the peak of technology’s ability to enhance our efficiency. Around that same time, tech was also most frowned upon in schools.

With advances in technology, comes more risk. Students have access to a lot- all the good, and all the bad. So, naturally, we as adults aim to protect our students from anything harmful or inappropriate. Unfortunately, I believe that concern and aim to protect, limits our willingness to adopt new technologies.

Find the Balance

This balance between the undeniable risks of technology and technology’s ability to enhance curriculum, specifically in secondary education, is one we are overdue in establishing. As a millennial, one who has experienced the many phases of technology, both as a student and as an educator, I think it’s absolutely necessary to incorporate the use of smart devices in the classroom as a basic learning tool.

Tech should not replace ALL of the resources, literature, and traditional practices we’re accustomed to, but rather enhance the learning environment to make it more relatable and up-to-date with society today.

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