Teaching in the Digital Age

Wow, do I ever have a lot to say about teaching in the digital age. Most of what I have to say is concerns. I think technology is a wonderful thing and can enhance our lives for the better in so many ways, but I also think society does not recognize the detrimental effect it can have. As well, I’d like to note, that I am writing this before reading any of Alec’s articles, I thought I would write first, then read and add or write a new post depending on how I feel afterwards.

One of my concerns about teaching in the digital age is health related. I think we as a society spend way too much time staring at screens. There have been so many studies showing the negative affects of hours of screen time, the main one that bothers me is overstimulation. With other Masters work, I have done reading and ironically viewing on how children cannot often even process everything coming at them from screens as there are too many images, everything on the screen is moving too fast. This overstimulation then translates to behaviour afterwards: lack of self-control, distractedness, sleep disruption. Much of the screen time students have is at home, so we are feeling these effects in the classroom. As well, we are often pressured to incorporate more and more technology in the classroom.

Another concern I have with teaching in the digital age is what I find, the lack of wonder and fascination all this technology has created. I have noticed in my classroom that it takes a lot for students to be fascinated by the simple things in life. I have done little tests and it always takes them a few weeks, sometimes a couple of months to be interested or wowed by the activities I plan in my class. An example of this would be practicing their sight words with manipulatives instead of a tablet game that has flashing pictures, sounds and bright colours. I think in many ways we are all prone to needing fancy things to grab our attention or impress us and, in many cases, those fancy things are so neat but there are also so many interesting things just outside our front door or on our bookshelves.

This is a video passed along to me by Dr. Patrick Lewis from one of the Early Childhood classes I took with him.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Teaching in the Digital Age

  1. I completely agree that some of the wonder has left education. I need to be more and more ahead of the students in order to keep their attention. Things move so quickly in the world that it’s hard to keep up and keep students on track.
    I also agree with the impact social media has on mental health. It breaks my heart every time I hear of bullying through social media because it can be used in such a positive way that all the negativity detracts from.

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  2. Marley, I seriously could not agree more with your post! I teach grade 2 and their attention span is about 5 minutes IF I’M LUCKY! I have little to no time to get the pertinent information across before having them move on because they can’t stay focused. There are likely many contributing factors to this lack of focus however, one of them I honestly feel is the rapid rate in which they view the world and receive information on account of technology. My days are broken into a million different, short lessons so try and allow them to retain what they can.

    As far as the negative impact social media and technology has on children’s mental health and wellbeing, I agree – there are absolutely HUGE detriments to kids and youth growing up in the era they are. There are an incredible amount of outlets that kids can be contacted through, 24 hours a day with social media. Home used to be a sanctuary for kids, they would leave school where they were getting picked on and could have a night or weekend where they were free, as people usually wouldn’t call on someone’s “house phone” and bully them. Technology and the digital age allows for anonymity and constant contact regardless of where you are. I think the idea of “no escape” greatly affects students mental wellbeing and self esteem.

    Thanks for getting me thinking! 🙂

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    1. That’s also a good point- the no escape, it is everywhere, at home, school, elsewhere. And social media, whether they want it to or not, follows them. While they are so many positives, there are also so many “side effects” for students’ well being that need to be considered. Thank you as well for getting me thinking!

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  3. It resonated with me when you said that you “have noticed in my classroom that it takes a lot for students to be fascinated by the simple things in life.” As an educator in an outdoor education program I organized my classroom mainly outside and when we weren’t outside we would be doing much online inquiry projects. It took a long time before students were comfortable learning outside of their element and without technology. Just being, simply, was a challenge and students had a hard time coping with occupying themselves without technology. By the end of the semester students were noticeably more patient, confident, and able to entertain themselves without hiding behind their phones. Throughout the semester we would practice being mindful, aware of others, and paying attention to the present / surroundings. I think the impacts of social media really challenge the social contract and values I grew up with which have both positive and negative consequences for relationships with self, others, and the natural environment.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Wow your program sounds great! Right up my alley! And you’re right, it is very hard for students to just be (It is a struggle for me as well I will admit, but a work in progress). It sounds like you teach older students, so it is comforting to hear that they were able to grow more present and mindful in the outdoors. I try and do a lot of outdoor activities with my younger students and one year in particular I also noticed a big change in their comfort, happiness and just being when we went outside. I think it is so important that we give kids these opportunities and the chance to grow in mindfulness and patience among other skills. I would love to hear more about your experiences! Thanks for checking out my post!

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