Thursday, January 23, 2020

Should We Use the Technology in the Classroom?

I confess that I would love some augmented reality device that showed me the name of the student I was looking at. I am horrible with names. I like to think that something like this would help me a) learn student names faster and b) establish better connections earlier. On the other hand there is some technology that I worry would hurt relationships more than help them.

For example, an AI and cameras that would tell a teacher who was and was not paying attention. Are Your Students Bored? This AI Could Tell You I can see where having an indication of where you start losing student attention could be helpful. On the other hand, maybe as a teacher I should be paying attention to the people in front of me. That is not impossible in a small classroom like a normal high school room. Maybe it is a lot in a large lecture room but that is an example of not building connections in the first place.

Or tracking students using their phones? Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands Sure I hate taking attendance and having the computer do it is tempting. Is that really the sort of intrusion that we want to get students used to though? I’m not so sure it is.

As with so much of technology, the question is one of balance. Do the down sides overshadow the up sides or not? This is not an easy question and I think wide open to debate. As technology grows our students are going to have to decide more of them as time goes along. The question is not “can we do it” but “should we do it?” Making those decisions requires understanding of the technology for sure. It also requires a solid ethical foundation and a willingness to question and discuss. Are these “soft skills?” Perhaps but they are becoming more essential rather than less.

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