The Problem with Assumptions


robots-app-photo-black-ipadWhen it comes to education and the use of technology in the classroom, all too often it seems that we are making some key assumptions about students.  Specifically, we are assuming that our students will be automatic experts (or quickly will become experts) in whatever technology we wish to use.

I guess I don’t need to remind everyone about the good old saying, “you know what assuming does…”

As a computer sciences teacher for grades 9 through 12, I have first-hand experience when it comes to students and their experience with technology.  In discussion with colleagues about the use of technology in the classroom, I often hear about struggles with the lack of knowledge on the behalf of students (rather than the teacher) being the main barrier in properly using classroom technology for learning.  Assumptions surrounding student abilities when it comes to technology likely stems from their immersion (for many, from birth) in technology.  This generation of students will never know a world without the internet, mobile devices or computers–which certainly makes them comfortable with technology–though not necessarily experts.  I have found that the biggest issue facing students, in regards to learning and technology, is the disconnect between technology as a “toy” and technology as a learning tool.  For example, many of my students are proficient to the umpteenth degree at locating images on Google, yet struggle with properly inserting images into Microsoft Word.  My students might be amazing at Mindcraft but struggle with basic programming using Scratch.  Owning an iPad versus knowing how to use applications designed for learning, as another example, are two separate things.

What does this mean for education?  It means that we need address our assumptions about students and technology to include their inability to properly utilize technology for their learning, and create opportunities for educators to learn how to teach technology in addition to teaching with technology.

What are some assumptions you have about students and technology?

Michelle Allen is BACK with tips, tricks and ideas for teachers who want new ideas about technology in the classroom.  Check back soon for more insights about teaching with technology, student learning and more.



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