Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Is EdTech changing how students think or is it addressing the changes in student thinking?

By on January 29, 2009

Science Daily is reporting that there has been a shift in how students are thinking as a result of their use of technology.  They believe it possibly lowers critical thinking skills and analysis.  Additionally, they wonder just how much schools should be catering to this change.

The important thing to remember is that when we talk about differentiation, we have to include all forms of teaching, from traditional pencil and paper to the use of technology.  But if we were to ignore the evolution that is occurring, that of the transition our brains our making as a result of society’s onslaught of daily technology, we would not be doing our job.

Any parent can tell you that technology in any form does things to their kid.  Mine, for instance, is totally zinged up if I let him even watch Handy Manny before bed.  And if Wilmer Valderama’s voice isn’t enough to put you to sleep, I don’t know what is.  Any teacher can tell you that they can see from a mile away those students who are overly exposed to TV or computer games at home.  It definitely does something to the brain and its neuro- pathways.  I didn’t need a scientist to tell me that. 

But the fact is that we are all bombarded with radio waves, pelted with frequencies, blasted with visuals in ways our grandparents only read about in apocalyptic Amazing Tales.  But we in this day and age call it advancement.

And it is.  Undeniably so.  

TV was fantastic and captivating and a technological tool for education.  Just ask The Children’s Television Workshop.  (I’m currently reading Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, so I’ve got PBS on the brain.)  Computers are now fantastic and captivating and a technological tool for education.  Cell phones are fantastic and captivating and a technological tool for education.  iPods are fantastic and captivating and a technological tool for education.  We as educators are fools for not harnessing what we know works to aid us in our job.  But it is also our job to teach essential thinking skills to bridge what may be lost in technique.

And I don’t believe, for one minute, that the new pathways that are being formed, the new canyons and creases in our brains, are less critical thinking than the ones that first were impressed onto our little pink craniums when we first discovered microscopes or Super 8 film or Mimeographs.  

Unless, of course, the current classroom technology is not being used in an interactive way.  

Ah, there’s the rub.  The social aspect of modernity’s use of technology is what makes it as advanced as it is.  It is the mere fact that current technology, when properly modeled, taught, and used, allows for global perspectives and total information access, that makes it require higher levels in its critical teaching and learning.   But don’t think for a minute that there isn’t a price that we are paying.  

I just don’t know if we can judge that price.  Are our brains transitioning and evolving as a result of all these current daily technologies?  Probably.  But it is education’s job to evolve with it, bridging the critical thinking gaps and laying the mortar of knowledge in those crevices of our brains.   

Share Button