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Social and Tech Advancements: Teachers' tools of the future?

Hello TED Community,

We all see the giant leaps in technological and digital advancements that have made tablets, smart phones, phablets and social networking an integral part of our lives. Almost every student (refering to highschool/undergrads) is seen sporting a smart phone and vigorously using social media. However, the larger teaching community globally remains skeptic of incorporating these tools in mainstream teaching. My question is whether these tools can actually help maximize learning and enhance creativity rather than being a perceieved need due to the recent spotlight on being up to date with the latest tech.

In my opinion, technology can be used as a tool but should not be intended to completely overtake the role of the teacher as face to face interaction is crucial and shouldn't be compromised on, only in cases when the person is benefitting from online classes and cannot attended them in person. There are so many benefits ranging from teacher student interactive communication using social media as well as providing a stream of information on on going activities with live feeds. Numerous website offer interactive learning models, for example for courses like biology, physics, etc. that make learning truly fascinating.

What, in your opinion, can be the pros and cons of integrating tech tools in teaching?

  • Dec 19 2013:

    The links above should answer more of your questions. However education is all mute without principles.
    The simple principles they were taught in Kindergarten and first grade should be refreshed over and over again while they are still young and teachable, the most important being non-violent responsibility and sharing.
    • Dec 22 2013: And then they get tried on piracy... and then they learn that some things are better kept private, or that other secrets lead to gain. Smarter ones figure out that liars and bullies tend to prosper, no amount of storytelling is going to change the basic reality around which is nowhere near perfect.

      I sense a disconnect between values.
      • Dec 23 2013: And what should have been taught to those is....

        "what does it profit a man that gains the world, if he loses his soul"
  • Dec 18 2013: Very interesting ideas. At times it seems the need to get iPads or tablets is just a race to see who is more technologically advanced. And yes, protective softwares need to be put in place that prevent students from using Facebook or malicious websites.
    Plus the recent use of tablets with children, especially younger than 10 is quite detrimental as they learn to interact very efficiently with these gadgets but not other people. Screen time is discouraged for babies younger than two as it has been linked with ADHD.
    Moderation and effective use should be the main concern rather than jumping on the tech bandwagon. They may prove to be very useful tools but before that the teachers should be trained on how to use them along with restructuring the environment and syllabi to accomodate these tech developments effectively.
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    Gord G

    • +1
    Dec 18 2013: A teacher perceives the environment and takes actions that maximize chances of success. I expropriated the definition of artificial intelligence to create the above definition of a teacher. Until AI is a reality, technology will always be a teaching tool.

    That said, I think undoubtedly it enhances education. In fact I think technology is the physical embodiment of education. Education began with the development of language, and it now expresses itself in the idiom of our times.

    I feel the most significant shift is temporal.
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    Dec 18 2013: I think that the concept of incorporating technology into the classroom is a great one in theory. In reality, incorporating technologies will waste financial resources that could be better used elsewhere. Unless someone that actually knows what they are doing and talking about gets in front of this thing, it's a waste for now and I think schools should focus on educating our children to the best of their ability and teaching discipline and focus.

    If we look at the recent attempt at LA Unified School District to roll out iPads to all their students, we see how many things can go wrong. It was a huge waste of resources because (1) the apps were contracted to be built will bad direction and therefore turned out arguably bad and (2) the students were able to quickly hack the iPads to get around the blocks the schools implemented.

    1. The people making the decisions to implement such apps should be people knowledgable in the arena. Actual app developers should be building apps not under contract but under hopes that they will be a valuable tool for teachers and students. This is the best way to ensure that the apps are phenomenally built, will be updated based on feedback, etc. Hiring a company to build an app is not the best use in this case. The internet and apps and web and all that fantastic stuff is so far ahead of the current government's knowledge that it will never be as good as it could be. The direction is simply not there. is another example of a new technology wasted because of an oldschool and fundamentally flawed contracting system.

    2. There are arguments for and against letting students hack their iPads. For: kids will be kids and if you can get them interested enough in the technology, that should be considered a win. Plus, what are they going to do that they couldn't already do on their personal devices. Against: The iPads should be limited to school related things and apps and not facebook on the schools dime.

  • Dec 24 2013: there was an interesting article in the local newspaper of 6th grade teachers at an elementary school using twitter, facebook, and e-mail. The teacher would get twits/e-mails asking for help on homework, he would twit back and/or create a video to help out. He would post a link to his twitter account and to the videos on his web site so students without twitter accounts could see/read them. He indicated the homework and test scores were better. What got me was he mentioned a student who said nothing in class but e-mails/twits to him daily with questions and comments about the class. He thinks she is opening up.

    The question is to make the jump for this communication to open discussion in class.
  • Dec 23 2013: I believe that there is no substitute for a teacher that cares, take the time, put's in the effort, that inspires, and most importantly ... leads the way.

    Not matter how good technology gets, and I'm in favor of using it, i know it can't replace the above.
  • Dec 22 2013: there is no technology that could have given me grace in 6th grade when i was cheating. It really was for no other reason than to be "good enough" in my sixth school by the age of eleven. Mrs. Maloney reminded me of what i knew---i was good enough. Technology no matter how sophistocated can put a young girl back on the moral path that has served her well for fifty years hence. Thank you, Mrs Maloney for the grace and do-over. It made a difference. peace, debbie husband
    • Dec 23 2013: well said, and well done for having the humility and respect of your teacher - to really learn the lesson she taught you.
  • Dec 21 2013: Personally, I believe the majority of people will learn this way in the future simply because of accessibility.
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    Dec 19 2013: pros are:

    * students can more easily self-direct their learning.
    * information, entertainment and communication are easily accessible and becoming more and more entwined making things digestible for all - literacy is changing and is much more image/video/audio heavy.

    cons are:
    * it's expensive.
    * copyright and IP issues have not yet begun to erode and prevent the potential of communication technologies. they soon will.
    * traditions are still resisting the changes that digital technology will already allow for.

    I think social networks are fine but the central point to remember is WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? for this reason, facebook is not suitable for students whereas a site like TED conversations may be more appropriate for curriculum-related discussion/surveying.

    Video, and video sites like youtube, are still underutilised. many people think it's "just TV" and belong to the square-eyes camp. of course, the teacher would be there to collate relevant and appropriate content in some cases as well as encourage and guide discussion and debate about the content.

    Ultimately, in the hands of an interested and curious learner, technology can be incredible.

    However, the safety of students online, the nature of some social interaction online (bullying, sex, porn), the issue of copyright and intellectual property laws and ongoing cost, combine to make it difficult for schools to administer effectively.
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    Dec 18 2013: from prev...

    I do think it is becoming more and more important that kids learn the fundamentals of computers and privacy and safety online. I am 23 and learned typing in elementary school, word/excel/powerpoint/email/research in middle school, and I chose to take Java in high school. Only in middle school were we occasionally told to not give our information out anywhere.

    That was 10 years ago and only a few of us had computers with internet at home. No one I knew had a computer with internet in a hidden spot. It was always right in the middle of the kitchen or something.

    Today kids all have iPhones and iPads and laptops that are constantly connected to the internet. Incorporating research and discipline and safety and privacy is something that will help them vastly in the future. In my opinion, that is more important that teaching them how to type.

    Another argument about technology is one that I'm stealing from an interaction on one of my favorite sites:

    "I worry about one of the new approaches becoming the entrenched standard and seeing some people get left out due to their learning style. That doesn't have to happen, but it seems to be the way public education works."

    I think this is a great point and should be thought about carefully considering so many students right now aren't getting the attention or learning styles they deserve. To throw technology into the mix may help or hinder students who prefer to take notes by hand vs downloading a study guide. I know for me personally, I retain far less knowledge when I type notes vs when I hand write them. There is something about the utter focus to the whiteboard and piece of paper that triggers my memory.

    Lots of thoughts. Love to continue with this discussion if anyone else chimes in.