Here we are, at the beginning of a new era in education – 21st Century learning, where technology may play an integral role. For many of us, it is a very exciting time, full of possibilities. For others (and even sometimes the above group may feel this way at times as well), to say it is challenging would be an understatement. As a result, it is important to make this technology as user-friendly and accessible as possible – to everyone.
Some may say that using mobile devices, such as iPods and iPads, with “drill and practise” – type apps, is a waste of time. I disagree with this position for a couple of reasons:
First of all, if we want to have teachers get used to usingtechnology in their classrooms, we have to have give them the opportunity to use them in a way that is easy, relatively stress-free and uncomplicated, at least to start. If that means that they use these mobile devices with their students initially with “drill and practise” math apps, so be it. It makes them more comfortable and, thus, more willing to take more risks in their future use of the iPads. These are educators who may never have even thought to bring these devices intotheir classroom at all. Providing them with encouragement and an easy way to begin to incorporate technology will have long-term impact.
Secondly, some students will not do Math drills in the traditional worksheet manner. These students find it very difficult to be engaged in this type of schoolwork. While I agree that this teaching method is somewhat questionable to begin with, if we are looking at a complete well-rounded math program, many teachers feel that students need to get better at the “basic” facts. To do this, many teachers still give their students worksheets to accomplish this – or at least try to meet this perceived need. So, if students need to practise their basic math facts, and will not do it in the “traditional” manner, then why not motivate them with a mobile device?
I have witnessed some of the most unmotivated students, who have great difficulty engaging in their learning and who are weak in their basic math facts, use a math app on an iPod. These students change. They seem much more motivated, engaged, and are practising their facts over and over again. They are trying. They are focusing. They are excited and having fun. Isn’t that what we want? (of course, I understand that what we really want is more problem-solving, real-life, based mathematics curriculum, but is this not a start?
Some of you may disagree with the above reasons why it is okay for teachers to use Drill and Practise Math apps in their classroom and that’s okay. We all have our opinions and they are all valuable. We are all a different places on the 21st-Century education journey. That is okay. It is important though, that we all are moving in that direction. We need the support of each other to be successful in this journey though.
I do hope that in these changing times, we do not alienate our colleagues along the way. We are in this together – for our students. We need to be encouraging and help our colleagues be comfortable with technology and all technology has to offer our students – both now and in their future. Please encourage and don’t shame.
It will be challenging, but if we are all in this together, we can make a difference. We can affect change in a positive way.
What are your thoughts? Is it okay to use technology in a Drill and Practise manner? Or should these teachers just not be encouraged to use the technology at all?
*Photos by flickrs owner arvindgrover and sigmamarketing.