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									Julia Dimaio

Strategies for Using Technology to Support Classroom Instruction

Professor Eames

August 11, 2011

                     Reflection: Technology in the Classroom

       I know what you are thinking. What could be less innovative, less forward-

thinking than writing a paper about technology. A paper is about as low as

technology can go since it has been used for centuries. Galileo, Marco Polo even

Mark the Gospel writer wrote papers. How predictable! How boring! Actually, this is

exactly why I am writing a paper about technology. Great minds have been utilizing

the written word to explain and validate new, at times scary, ideas and it has

worked. Galileo was writing about the new technology of gravitational pulls and

celestial rotations and while he was persecuted for it, at least powerful people were

reading it. Marco Polo brought the inventions of the East back to Europe in his diary.

Had there been a bestseller list, Marco Polo would have topped the charts for years.

Even Stephan Hawking has put his ideas down into a few condensed books. The

point is, you can have as many flashy presentations about the most mind-blowing

concepts that you want, but people, especially powerful people will only take you

seriously after it has been put down on paper.

       As educators, were coming into contact with some of the most powerful

people on earth every day; our students, the future. Yes, one day these children will

be running the world while we watch from our aging 3D flatscreens. I’d say that

pretty much makes them the most powerful people you could ever meet. So, we
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better hustle on making them the best world citizens that we possibly can. This

means reading, writing, mathematical, critical thinking, problem solving and, of

course, tech savvy skills must all be taught before they leave our doors. These skills

are all equal, which means for the first time in history learning how to use new

technology is just as important as learning how to read. This is a pretty staggering

thought. Not only do our students have to learn all the history, science, math and

literature that students have been learning for years, now they have another subject

as well. That pesky new subject is also the one that is growing and changing more

rapidly than any other the other subjects combined. Whew, we sure have our work

cut out for us.

       Fortunately for students and teachers alike, there has been a movement to

bring the subject of technology into the classroom, instead of leaving it confined to

the walls of the humming computer lab. This means Google, Twitter, web

animations, online tours and research caching websites like Diigo will forever

change the landscape of the classroom. Instead of students acting out a skit, they

can make an animated clip from GoAnimate! Instead of presenting their knowledge

on a yawn-inducing PowerPoint, students can open eyes with a Prezi. Quick

summaries can be tweeted to #TheirAwesomeTeacher. Google scholar will help

them locate the information that they need and Diigo will bookmark it so they will

be sure not to forget it. SMARTboards allow them to interact with material at the

front of the class and Google Earth will show them just what Europe looks like. All

of this can be done, by the way, on the wireless tablet that is perched on their desk.
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       Yes, technology has forever changed our classrooms, probably for the better

as they offer more engaging opportunities and higher-level problem solving skills.

However, is it changing the workplace in the same way? Sure, doctors are using iPad

apps to view CT scans and lawyers are never seen without their BlackBerry at hand.

However, patient histories are not made up of animated clips and law memos are

not Google Earth tours of the crime scene. Congress is not writing new laws on Prezi

and CEOs are not using the Promethean magic revealer to unveil this quarter’s

numbers.

       The fact of the matter is that the written word is and will continue to be

invaluable in the working world. Are pen and paper necessary? Probably not. But

our students will need to know how to write (on their MacBook Air) an effective

argument to become a lawyer, they will have to know how to manipulate numbers

(in Excel) in order to be an accountant, they will have to know how to spell

Orthopedics (on their iPhone) to be a surgeon and will have to know how to analyze

historic documents (on their Kindle) in order to be an effective politician.

       So, old school meet new school. The mechanics of writing can be taught on

the SMARTboard, but they need to be taught. Bring on the Excel spreadsheets and

graphing calculators but students must realize that 2+2 = 4 not 5! as their cell is

telling them. This is an exciting time for education as the valuable dusty history texts

meet the equally valuable shiny Sony Vaio PC. As educators we need to understand

that technology is a series of new ways to present the material that has always made

students successful.
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       I am convinced, more than ever after taking this class, that technology, in all

forms, should absolutely be embraced in the classroom as an enhancement, not a

watering down, of our students’ knowledge. We will mold them into the powerful

people they will become by teaching the 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) along

with the GEMs (Google applications, email attachments and Microsoft Office).

Forming a sentence in a paper, like this one, is just as important as formatting it

correctly in Microsoft Word on your MacBook Pro, like this one.

								
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