Is this a necessary use of technology?

Steve Wheeler shared this video on his blog after describing constructionist learning theory. I’m not really clear on what, if anything, this robot adds to the activity of playing Snakes & Ladders. What would be different about this activity if students had to move a marker instead of pressing buttons on the robot to get it to move? Is this a necessary use of technology, or an extravagance?

I tend to lean toward the latter for this particular example. I am a supporter of technology use in schools, but we need to be thoughtful about our use of technology and given it’s expense, try and choose technologies which we can see will have an impact on student learning, rather than technologies which can be easily replaced with something far cheaper.

Can you see other ways that this particular technology could be used in a more powerful way, one which will impact student learning, and which requires this technology?

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6 Comments

  • Yeah, I’m not really seeing the value of Beebot beyond being a fancy way to play a board game. I’m especially curious what this has to do with constructivist learning. Perhaps if you were to use Beebot to do some Logo-like programming?

    I agree with you that using technology for its own sake is not the way to go. First of all, it generally costs significantly more than non-tech products. In this case, a stuffed animal or some other object would have served the role of Beebot just fine. Secondly, technology can introduce complications and additional costs beyond the initial tech, so the added value better be worth it.

    In my old school, for example, I wanted to use virtual manipulatives during a math lesson. Unfortunately, all we had for projecting was a TV mounted on the wall. The resolution was so poor that I gave up rather than force technology for its own sake. I ended up using transparencies of the manipulatives and an overhead projector. Sure, overheads are old school, but it did the job much better than other options available to me.

  • Cherra-Lynne wrote:

    I often find myself caught thinking about whether what I’m doing (technology or otherwise) is a novelty rather than a necessity. I think we all need reminders sometimes that getting caught up in something exciting doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good use of our resources. The robot is cool! But my 4 year old plays just as well with the little stick guys the game came with.

  • Janet Lee Stinson wrote:

    I agree that this is not a good use of the bebot and I’m not sure what would be a good use of the tool. I do like how the teacher is using the think aloud to model thought patterns during the game. I can see some of the students are ahead of the lesson while others are tuning in to her words. If you listen closely, you can hear all different levels of understanding in the little comments blurted out by some. The bebot did nothing to move the learning forward, but it was a cute distraction.

    When I use technology in my classroom, I find it is best to figure out what I we need to accomplish before actually jumping in to using the tech piece. This way we can have discussions about what would be the best tool. Through these discussions I often get new ideas for ways to use the technology and we all learn together. It can feel uncomfortable at first but it is a powerful way to build community and get all students (including me) involved in the learning.

    Janet Lee
    from weinspirefutures.com

  • Paul Adams wrote:

    Use of technologies are more essential in every sectors then why we are not adding technologies in education process, it will definitely helps to build a strong modern community and also sharp the minds of the students. Due to technology advanced we found that every educational organization are providing a better way of education process through using multimedia and other advanced techniques. These process are found more valuable and this is the best way for teach the small kids it make them more understandable.

  • Jack Smith wrote:

    Definitely I must say the importance of technology are value a more in this modern age, these concepts are rapidly grows all over the world, as technology is one of the most essential part of our daily practices so in learning and education process we are witnessed the use of technology in a huge way.

    With the help of science as well as technology we are blessed with various modern sources. Therefore it is quite better to use the technology in education and learning process which may help to students and educators to navigate with the modern techniques.

  • Dr. Berry wrote:

    It absolutely extravagant and does not serve a true purpose.

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