If it is true (and I believe wholeheartedly that it is) that students are the only ones that choose when and where they are going to learn, then a teacher’s job is to do everything they can to make whatever time they have with students the time and place where students want to learn.
When I was getting my Masters degree in Education from Milligan College in East Tennessee, I wrote my Thesis on the question of whether the use of PowerPoint in an 8th grade American History classroom had a positive effect on student learning. (Spoiler Alert) It did not. For some years after I finished that thesis, I never thought about again. As my teaching career progresses, I do, from time to time, reflect on the fact that the presence of an Ed. Tech. tool did not prove to be of any consequence on student learning. I have read similar, and definitely much more official and academic, studies focusing on the presence of educational technology in the classroom. The majority of research seems to tell a similar story. The presence of educational technology in the classroom does not have a positive effect on student learning.
From these findings, it seems that researchers and educators draw their own conclusions. Some old-timers use them as justification for maintaining the status-quo. Ed. Tech. enthusiasts insist that it is not just the technology, but how it is implemented. Both of these conclusions frustrate me. It seems that most teachers talk past one another when it comes to whether educational technology is a benefit in the classroom. I have recently, and firmly, decided why this frustrates me. Both conclusions miss the boat. When some/most teachers talk about educational technology, and how\if it should be implemented in their classrooms, they are really attempting to justify how they teach. It seems we teachers are nothing if not primarily interested in the justification of what we do in the classroom. But, real teaching and learning has never been about the tools that are used. That debate is secondary, and, in many cases, inconsequential. When educators talk about the use of educational technology and what happens in the classroom, the focus should be on how to best provide students with educational opportunities in which they willing choose to participate.
Jay Andrew Irvin
Seeking student-centered educational experiences based on healthy, sustaining, and supportive relationships.