Technology vs. Skill Development

Will you have your students spend time organizing their references to fit some style guide when a piece of software can do that for them? What tasks are “safe” to hand off to software (or other technologies) and what tasks should be processed by the learner for the benefit of skill development or understanding?

     The above question is from our ECMP 355 Blogging Prompts, and I thought that it fits with an earlier blog post of mine, Technology and Gadgets.  This question connects to my earlier thoughts about a growing reliance on technology.  It also makes me consider the limitations and usefulness of technology vs. skill development.  For example, some people believe that students need to learn typing skills and they also need to learn to handwrite.  In contrast, other people would say that it is a waste of time to teach a student how to handwrite because the world is becoming so computer and technology based that handwriting will soon become outdated.  During my internship, my cooperating teacher and I placed emphasis on teaching our students typing skills as well as handwriting skills- we both believed that having the ability to do both is extremely valuable.  We scheduled blocks of time in our days to practice each of these activities.

This also makes me think of calculators in schools… We spend great amounts of time teaching students how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  Sometimes there is frustration in this learning process, and it can be very time consuming.  I have had students ask me why they need to be able to do the Math when their calculator can do it for them much faster.  Similar to the handwriting, I think that the ability to do the Math is a valuable skill.

Are there any thoughts on technology vs. skill development and any boundaries or balances that should be in place?  Any examples of related controversial issues?

Here are some websites that consider these questions:

Longhand vs typewritten

Calculators in the Classroom

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4 Responses to Technology vs. Skill Development

  1. Alec Couros says:

    I’m glad you are using the blogging prompts. I’ve asked others on Twitter to pipe in on this topic. Hopefully you’ll get a few comments. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thanks for sharing the post. As a 3rd year Secondary Business Education student, I think middle-year’s teachers can play a significant role in skill development.

    I am noticing more and more that sometimes the ‘basics’ and ‘fundamentals’ are not being covered in schools. It is somewhat unfortunate, in my opinion, because some of these ‘basic’ skills, such as typing, are not being taught due to software that will – as you mention – “create stuff for you.”

    I would like to do a lot of work with case studies with my students but, unfortunately, that will not happen if they are not taught the fundamentals – such as theories – so that they can learn to appreciate, and apply, the knowledge that they obtained. I guess you can say that I think that there is a symbiotic, or inter-connected, relationship that exists between skill development and technology; one cannot exist without the other.

    Thanks for the post, and good luck finding YOUR solution, and position, with this very interesting debate!

  3. Cori Saas says:

    Hey Kailey, you raise some really great points with your post. I teach grades 6-12, but mostly senior ELA. I feel there are connections to what we need to teach our students, to what we expect from our student, to student access to technology, growing up and in school. I teach senior ELA, and I will not, if I can help it, show anyone my cursive handwriting – I love the learning supports built into my computer. They make me a better writer. They make my students better writers. However, I have many senior students that refuse to give up their pen and paper student/teacher journal. I understand this as well. I understand that transparency is easiest when I can safely tuck an entry away inside my backpack. So which is more valuable? In this time of differentiated instruction the choice of student success needs to led by educator and make by student. Most importantly, I believe the greatest tools and the best skills enrich content that engages students.

    In all my courses students are allowed to come to class with personal devices. In my computer class, my gr 6-8 kids are using the tools (tech) to learn the computer skills they need to know through a project they designed. It’s really cool. The project is all about making connections. Here’s the cool part, it’s connections outside of the school so it’s been computer class, without the computer lab! They use language like, “May I take the Flip this weekend, I have an interview with Matt’s grandpa?” “”Awesome, You should Tweet that.” “I don’t know, find a Youtube.” “”Can I open a file to the global drive for this project” and “If we swap classes, we can Skype?” The kids refer to themselves as LinkX and for them their projects just mash everything together.

  4. I’ve honed in on technology as soon as I was placed in front of a keyboard as I have a learning disability so my hand writing as always been barely legible. Interestingly a top mathematician takes a contrary view teaching mental calculations holds students back from doing real maths.

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