Opinion, Pedagogy

How I really feel about digital learning…

As I begin thinking about the upcoming school year, I can’t help but reflect on the past two years and all of the challenges and upheavals that teachers, students, and parents were dealing with. As a teacher / author on TpT, I’ve been debating with myself as to whether or not I want to create digital products and/or update additional existing products with digital components…and I’m leaning toward….not.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize that COVID was really unprecedented in this day and age, and everyone did the best they could. I also realize that technology is not going anywhere, and our kids need to be tech savvy to make it in this world. And… I’m not talking about using technology for students with accommodations. What I am thinking about is how I don’t want to teach in the future.

Hear me out. This past school year, I was working as a math interventionist with 6th grade students that didn’t pass their 5th grade state testing. Quite a few of them had spent the previous school year either doing online learning or were in a classroom that required the teacher to juggle online students and in-person students at the same time. They had spent a lot of time glued to a screen, and let me tell you… it was eye-opening.

The great majority of my students were lacking in basic math fluency skills, which is understandable (to a point). However, the biggest issue that I had was the fact that many of the students didn’t want to, or flat refused to, pick up a pencil and actually write! They literally thought that they could look at the problem and figure it out mentally, or just guess an answer!! Watching my students, it was as if they would just stare at their work they way they stared at a computer screen. Drove me nuts…

Does technology have a place in education? Absolutely. My feeling is that technology works best in project-based learning activities where students are learning, researching, creating, and learning technology skills in the process. I know that there are other applications for technology in education, and I know that kids today are very in tune to the digital world. But for this teacher… it’s gonna be primarily old-school, hands-on manipulatives, and pencil and paper learning.

I would really love to hear your thoughts…


2 thoughts on “”

  1. I completely understand your argument – it is hard, HARD, so VERY hard to build relationships with students in an online enviroment. And learning really happens in interactions. However, I think it is not the online environment to be blamed, but the way we use it. (Full confession, I have worked completely online for past 10 years, but my students are adults.) What needs to change, drastically, is HOW we do online learning. No, we can’t just plop students into a zoom class or google classroom, just because one teacher communicating to 20+ students will never work in an online environment. Some occasional webinars migth be okay, but real, pure ESSENCE of online learning is to have everything individualized. And that takes a lot ot effort (and just to be super-clear, this is NOT something teachers should be doing, we have curriculum/instructional/learning experience designers for that).

    My point is: if we could do online learning correctly it would free the teacher’s (or interventionist’s) time to work with students one-on-one, to provide the support that each individual student needs.

    But, yeah, that would require more funding….so, not happening. 😦
    Still, it would be totally worth it!


    1. Hi Nina! I agree that online and digital learning can be effective when implemented properly. For young children, though, I do feel that it should be implemented in small bits in order to complement the curriculum. You wouldn’t believe the difference I have seen in kids pre-pandemic vs. post-pandemic. It’s been eye opening, to say the least.
      Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment!


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