May 14 / Linda McCusker

The Myths versus The Reality of using Technology for Education

by Linda McCusker
Technology is part of our everyday life and has played an important role in keeping us all connected over the past year in particular. With the Department of Education provided €210 million funding as part of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015 - 2020 and currently engaging with stakeholders on a new Digital Strategy, the use of technology in education is here to stay.

COVID-19 threw parents, students and teachers into the world of online learning and virtual learning environments such as Showbie, SeeSaw, Teams and Google Classroom, whether they were prepared for it or not. And despite the fact that it has helped schools around the world to continue teaching and learning over the past 15 months, some of the myths about the use of technology in education can still make parents, and even schools, nervous about the it's use in education.

Here are some of the most common myths about technology for education and the what the reality looks like in the classroom on a daily basis:

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Myth 1) Devices in the Classroom will Distract Students from Learning

There is often the assumption that students using devices in class will automatically result in them being distracted by playing games, checking social media, watching videos on YouTube or catching up on their favourite series on Netflix. While personal devices do allow students to access all this content, managed devices used in schools along with a well-managed WiFi network ensures that students remain on task and cannot access inappropriate content in school whilst also allowing students to access the school’s virtual learning environment, conduct research, complete assignments and submit homework. Having our iPads managed by Wriggle gives us all peace of mind that our students cannot access anything inappropriate while in school.

Distraction can occur in all classrooms, whether students have technology at their fingertips or not. In the past, students passed handwritten notes to their friends or whispered to each other while the teacher’s back was turned but once technology is used effectively and to enhance learning and teaching in the classroom, it will place the student’s attention exactly where it should be.

As a school who use iPad for learning, using Apple Classroom on iPad is a complete game-changer in terms of classroom management as it allows the teacher to easily check what any student in his/her class is doing on their device at any time at the click of a button. Using the app also allows the teacher to lock students out of apps or websites they shouldn’t be on as well as directing and locking students into the app or website they should be interacting with, thereby actually helping students to stay focused and on-task.

**To learn more about the brilliant classroom management features in Apple Classroom, check out our iPad Learning Pathway in the courses section on Wriggle Connect.
Myth 2) Technology will have a Negative Effect on Students’ Communication Skills

Will the regular use of technology affect the communication skills of students?  If students are not interacting and communicating with each other in class, will they be able to interact with each other socially?

In fact, technology can often be used to enhance the communication skills of students when used effectively.  The use of inbuilt languages, audio notes and text to speech on devices can assist students in learning modern foreign languages, giving them the chance to practice the language and thereby increase their communication skills.  Students can use technology to create videos or voice notes practising presentations such as their CBA’s before delivering them in front of their class which helps increase their confidence and their CBA grades.  The use of online quizzing apps such as Kahoot, Socrative or Quizlet Live can also help to create a sense of teamwork in the class by automatically placing students in teams competing against each other and allowing even shy, quiet students to participate easily.

The accessibility features built into devices have transformed the lives of students with additional needs by giving them the tools they need to communicate effectively.  Tools such as speech to text, speak selection, voiceover, zoom and guided access have helped to make education a level playing field for all students by allowing them to overcome their difficulties.

**To learn more about using all of the accessibility features built in to iPad, check out our iPad Learning Pathway in the courses section of Wriggle Connect.

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until 31st May!

Myth 3) Traditional Learning is more Meaningful than Digital Learning

Technology, when used effectively, transforms students from passive into active learners where they are interacting and engaging in their learning, rather than just receiving information, allowing students to work collaboratively and interact with each other on documents and activities in real time.  It enables learning to move beyond the walls of the traditional classroom and allows students to access information that they would never have had the opportunity to in the past.  The use of technology allows students to view art exhibitions on the other side of the world while sitting in their art class in Ireland, it allows History students to visit Pompeii and Geography students to view first-hand natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods or tsunamis as they occur without having to wait until textbooks are updated.
Myth 4)  Technology will Replace Teachers

While technology plays an important role in education, it will never replace the role of a teacher in the education of students.  Technology changes the way teachers interact with their students and can make learning easier and more accessible for some students but students will always need that personal relationship with their teachers which allows teachers to motivate, mentor, guide and offer support to their students. It is extremely important to remember that technology is simply a tool which will never replace teachers but teachers using technology effectively in the classroom will have a lasting impact on the education and lives of our students into the future.

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until 31st May!

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About the Author

Linda McCusker

Linda is Deputy Principal inSt Vincent's Secondary School in Dundalk. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, manages the Apple Regional Training Centre in Louth and leads the iPad Programme in St. Vincent's. She is passionate about harnessing the benefits of technology for teaching and learning.

As a Wriggle Connect Ambassador, Linda has created the 'iPad' Learning Pathway on the  Wriggle Connect Teacher Training platform. 

To learn more about the courses available to teachers on the Wriggle Connect Platform, click on the courses section if you have a Wriggle Connect account, or sign up for a FREE 14 day sample training course on the Wriggle Connect platform today!