We’re zooming, live-streaming, and relying on technology like never before. Digital technologies were a lifeline during the pandemic, and kept workers working, families connected, and students learning.
But as we begin to imagine life post-COVID-19, many of us are wondering: Are we spending too much time on our computers?
Any doubts over the influence of teachers were certainly put to rest during the pandemic as it became clear that technology, for all its many uses, would never replace great teaching. But technology has a place in the classroom and can be a powerful teaching tool. So, how are schools striking a balance and using technology sparingly, and strategically, to help students succeed? What are we teaching students about the smart, responsible use of technology, and how can parents help reinforce those lessons at home?
Connect Canyons host Kirsten Stewart recently posed these questions, and more, to Canyons School District’s Educational Technology Specialists Dr. Camille Cole and Justin Andersen. Their timely, and wide-ranging conversation touched on the following topics and resources:
- What guidance does Canyons give teachers in deciding when, and how, to use technology.
- What did we learn about right-sized technology during the pandemic?
- For parents, how can technology open a window to the classroom and help them better understand what their students are learning each day?
- Exposing students to technology, along with science, math, engineering, and the arts, is prioritized as part of Canyons District’s strategic plan. How technology is used will look different in an elementary classroom than at a high school. But it is always highly-structured by teachers to achieve the following:
- Deepen students’ understanding of key concepts: small-group intervention, at-home practice, etc.
- Communicate with parents about student progress: electronic assignment submission allows for more immediate feedback on student progress.
- Promote collaboration: whole classrooms can share ideas and work together to solve problems.
- Promote creativity and student engagement: video examples, augmented reality, and other tools can make learning more relevant, inclusive, and fun.
- Promote critical thinking and keep instruction connected to the contemporary world: using the same software many of us use in the workplace, or virtual labs and maker-space applications can prepare students for solving real-world problems using real world tools.
- Extend the reach of the classroom: technology supports self-directed, personalized learning tailored to student interests. Online learning supports school choice and allows students to learn at their own pace and from the location of their choice.
- Improve teacher productivity
- How much time are Canyons’ students are spending on computers while they are at school?
- Understanding that not all screen time is created equal, what media consumption, digital literacy, and digital citizenship skills do we teach students?
- What is Canyons doing to safeguard students from over-using or inappropriately using technology?
- Parents, of course, are their child’s first and most important teacher. What can adults do to model and support healthy habits at home?