Learn not be engaged in technology

I would  like to ban the words “engage”, “engagement”, “engaging” from education.   Many educational articles, company ads, and conference presentations use the this concept with titles such as “Engage your students through…”, “Highly engagement by….”, or “Engaging Students ….”.  Teachers will comment “My students were so engaged in the lesson.”  I would like much more than mere engagement, I want learning.

In a Social Studies class, students can be “engaged” in creating a PowerPoint of a country for many class periods but they  may not have  learned the critical country information.  Also, an “engaging” activity may be for students to create a video showing an understanding of a play  in their English  class. The students  can be fully attentive to the project but if they focus on sword play instead of the plot of the play, their engagement does not end up in learning.  Likewise, in Science, students can fully participate in a twitter conversation about the impact  of development on the local environment with every student tweeting.  Does each tweet add more information (depth or breadth of learning)?  Modern Language students can be “engaged” in using their Smartphones to collect pictures  for their teacher but do they talk in the target language about the pictures?

When we use essential questions, backward design, or problem based learning, students immerse themselves in learning. They improve in their learning through technology.

Do your student focus on learning?

I have  nine + Spanish spontaneous speaking activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

5 Responses to “Learn not be engaged in technology”

  1. 1 edtechceo February 17, 2012 at 2:02 am

    I agree with your post. So many students become so enthralled with the process of using technology, that they forget about the learning. However, I believe the same thing happens with teachers as well. They often get so caught up in the next “neat thing” that they forget the reason for using the technology. When I use technology in my classroom, I make sure that I can assess what the students learned, not just what picture they found. By looking at what new connections they are making in their knowledge, that’s where teachers can see real learning though technology taking place.

  2. 2 BASGVSU February 19, 2012 at 2:24 am

    This is a really great point. I hear other teachers talking about engagement as if that is the end instead of merely the means to an end. If students are focused on the technology, they may not be learning what we want them to learn.
    Twenty-five years ago I sold life insurance, and my agency was one of the first in the area to use laptops to present the product and calculate values for the policy proposal. Very often people were dazzled by the technology, but completely uninterested in buying what I was selling. However, I probably could have sold my laptop a number of times!
    Similarly, students should not be so “engaged” with the technology that they miss the lesson that is being presented. Tech should only support the lesson, it should never BE the lesson, right?

  3. 3 Betty C. March 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    This is a very thought-provoking post. I have college EFL students working on a “social-media connected writing project” right now. They are definitely engaged, but it’s not like learning is necessarily happening with a magic wand. As it turns out, I think it is more of a chance for them to practice the skills they have than acquire new ones, although certainly some vocabulary acquisition is taking place.

    I have no regrets about the project, which is taking up only 6 class hours of their 90-hour English curriculum, but I am also glad I limited it to that. THe project could easily have been drawn out much longer, “engagement” included…but with how much extra learning?

  4. 4 Jeff S. March 12, 2012 at 1:54 am

    I used to think the word “engaging” was overused…about 15 years ago during my undergraduate work. Unfortunately, the English language consists of only so many words that can be used in its place. In most instances the word is used, educators are implying that is learning is taking place, not forgetting about it. Education is full of words that are overused…”panacea” being another one, but due to linguistic limits we are forced to constantly regurgitate them.

    I firmly believe the most learning occurs when students are…oh how do I say it…ummmm…involved…no…interested…no…ahhh…engaged. See what I mean?

  1. 1 Blog Post 2 – Technology to increase learning « Teknowledgie Trackback on February 17, 2012 at 2:08 am

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