A recent Canadian study found that teachers and students want more technology in the classroom.
It’s a finding that, at first glance, makes a dinosaur like me want to brandish a copy of Fun with Dick and Jane, and shout, “The old way is better!”
The Dick and Jane readers were just slightly before my time, but generations of children learned to read following the antics of Dick, his sister Jane, their younger sister, Sally, and of course faithful dog, Spot.
My daughter, like most kids of her generation, has a love and an aptitude for technology that kids of my generation could never have imagined. The devices that most of us now use on a daily basis would once have been something only imaginable on an episode of The Jetsons.
This year, at the behest of her teacher, my daughter began using a particular web site to help with her studies. When she first mentioned she wanted to use it to study the conjugation of French verbs, I admit that I balked. I got out the three-hole, lined paper and a pencil and told her the only way to learn was to write out each word and verb because that’s the way I learned to do it.
She wasn’t too keen and kept insisting that this web site was teacher-recommended and that’s how she was going to study for her upcoming test.
She held her ground and showed me what she was doing. The web site had practice tests that graded you, and lo and behold, she was having fun, she was learning and she was acing the tests. When she brought home a mark of 100 per cent on her test that week, I was thrilled and realized that she may have been onto something and that maybe I could in fact embrace technology for learning.
Perhaps it was the same when kids in the one-room schoolhouse went from using a slate and chalk to a quill pen and ink.
The technology study, Emerging Technologies, Evolving Education, was conducted by The Learning Partnership over a year, examining the impact of technology on teaching and learning in the classroom. The data was collected from 40 schools representing each province and territory who received $20,000 worth of classroom technology, like tablets, laptops, cameras and interactive whiteboards, and provided training for teachers.
One of the study’s four major findings was that integrating technology positively impacts the learning experience.
The bottom line is that I can’t fight it. Technology is here to stay and many of the jobs our kids will eventually do require it. My daughter’s teacher has a terrific web site — as do many teachers — with links to other terrific web sites that can be used to play educational games or for studying.
To be clear, I love books, my daughter loves books and books still take priority in her classroom, with regular trips to the school library. She and I love visiting the Vernon library, where a whole world is available to us. And of course, she is rather adept at doing a quick search online through the Okanagan Regional Library’s catalogue.
I do not want to see libraries or book stores go the way of the dodo bird — as they are my happy place — but the masses of reference books that were once required have become somewhat obsolete, I think.
When I was in elementary school, research involved a trip to the library to go through the coveted World Book Encyclopedia. Now, it’s a quick Google search and it’s all there. Of course, one has to be careful with Internet sources, as the reliability of some of them leaves something to be desired. (Fun fact: Google the word Google, and you get 7,680,000,000 results.)
Years ago, we got a new Mac computer, and it came with a floppy disc that contained information, like a dictionary. We thought it was the height of modern technology. We had no idea what was just around the corner.
So I will continue to push books and the joys of reading, but I will also accept the inevitable. Dick and Jane would no doubt be horrified.