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Classroom Technology Yay Nay or Maybe

It is fascinating for me to watch the myriad ways teachers are incorporating various forms of technology into their daily lessons, as well as to hear the reasoning behind those who maintain a more conservative approach.

I was reading today about some California elementary school children using iPod Touches as part of instruction intended to increase English comprehension and fluency. It is part of a pilot program which has the kids listening to a recorded book being taught to focus on the nuances of the language including pauses and intonation and then recording themselves reading the same text. The files are then archived so the teacher and student can monitor their progress. The same iPod Touches are used for math lessons which present like games. Speed and accuracy are monitored. It seems the teacher in this class places a great deal of emphasis on the “fun “aspects of learning this way. I smiled when reading the article because I know that strikes a raw nerve with many educators.

I don’t wish to weigh in on either side of this classroom technology yes-no maybe argument in this brief post. Creativity in the use of classroom technology whether it's standard classroom projectors, 3D and Pico projectors, whiteboards iPods or Skype on a big screen is just plain interesting. And even though I’m a projector industry veteran, I don’t feel at all biased one way or another. I equally enjoyed another article written the Times Daily in Alabama which quotes a Kaiser Family Foundation study claiming the 8-18 age group in our country spends an average of 7 hours, 38 minutes a day using entertainment media. This article cites the possible negative impact of increased technology use being the degradation of human interpersonal relationships as well as signifying a decline in the number of hours children spend reading.

This article reminded me that I have yet to decide if this 21st Century Classroom debate is a generational argument a pedagogical one—or if it is a question of technology users against those less gadget savvy.