Academic journal article Journal of Thought

"This Is a Thing ..." Reflections on a Technology Conference

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

"This Is a Thing ..." Reflections on a Technology Conference

Article excerpt

And their seductive technological excursions in the classroom once again reflect not so much the use of technology in the service of education as the usurpation of education in the service of technological enterprise. (Noble, 1998, p. 267)

Introduction

By now, it is taken for granted teachers are expected to effectively use technology to support student achievement. To that end, there are multiple avenues available to teachers, administrators, schools, and districts that provide training, professional development, ideas, and assistance in integrating various technologies into teaching and learning environments. The authors recently participated in one such venue, Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (1) (LACUE), a popular, well-attended State technology conference that supported all manner of technology-related needs particular to the work of teachers while promoting the latest technologies available on the market. Out of curiosity, an informal survey was conducted on the range of session offerings presented for LACUE attendees. The survey found there was a striking absence of tools and pedagogy needed to foster critical use of technology--a stunning omission. In fact, the authors presented the only conference session related to insight and support for emerging concerns about technology-induced anxiety and social disorders (King, 2013; Pierce, 2009; Valdesolo, 2015; Yildirim, 2014).

LACUE as a Reflecting Pool

Approximately six weeks prior to the conference the authors collected information submitted for 298 accepted proposals, available via LACUEs 2016 website under their "topics already submitted" portal and organized them into an MS Excel worksheet in the following manner: presentation title, description, presenter's name, and affiliation. Presenters included educators in P-12 schools, administrators, post-secondary educators, as well as technology-oriented vendors. We sought evidence indicating educators and attendees were asked to consider the psychological and social implications for wholesale implementation of technology into the educational process. Our initial, albeit informal review of proposals, indicated 33 percent of submissions were vendor-based, meaning presentations made by vendor representatives were inherently designed to promote vendor interests and products. The remaining 67 percent of presentations were conducted by non-vendors, such as teachers, administrators, and college faculty and included a wide variety of tools such as: Classroom Management (Class Dojo, SnapShot observations, MS OneNote, CMSJoomla, Moodle, VizZle); Google Applications (Chrome book applications, Google classroom, Google docs, Google forms, Google drive, online assessment pedagogy using Google tools); PowerPoint Pedagogy (Nearpod, Prezi, Office Mix/Sway, TED Talks, voice over); Coding Tools (Minecraft, robotics, coding, EV3 robot, Makerspace principles); 1:1 Computer Practices (BYOD class, 1:1 classroom pedagogy, locating funding, writing grants, computer assisted active learning environments); Flipped Classroom (Office Mix, Education puzzle, blended learning, flip pedagogy); and Training and Professional Development (School Way, Dropbox, test preparation, differentiated instruction professional development) to name a few.

Not surprisingly, our review of proposals for LACUE revealed technology use in schools is significant and in high demand. It also demonstrates the connection to corporate interests when clearly one-third of the presentations are represented by technology vendors. Relative to this review, the pronounced vendor presence is significant given the critical nature of this analysis. Also, and perhaps most importantly, this paper highlights an invisible presence, that is, a reality about emerging issues related to the social and psychological impact of technology use that is left unspoken or explicitly addressed within proposals. For the authors, this analysis generated an acute awareness captured by the phrase: "This is a thing. …

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