6th June 2014 at 01:00
Every week, we bring you the most interesting discussion, debate and issues from around the web and around the world by focusing on the most popular educational hashtags on Twitter

Occasionally, usually when needing to find a new contact or check some facts, journalists get a terrifying glimpse of how difficult it must have been to do just about anything before the internet. Indeed, it is fascinating to observe discussions in which people compare their lives pre- and post-technology. For the growing band of digital natives it can be like watching a documentary about the deep and distant past.

This week's #edchat was on that very subject, interrogating how technology has affected teaching, either positively or negatively. Although you might be forgiven for thinking that a Twitter discussion about technology would have the whiff of turkey farmers agreeing that Christmas is a jolly good idea, the reality was very different.

@tkraz pointed out that technology could be a "distraction" for students, while chat moderator @cybraryman1 said negatives included the fact that "when it doesn't work, too much time is needed to learn how to use it", adding that technology was fast becoming "all-encompassing".

Although @chuckholland welcomed technology because "the ownership of learning has been taken out of my hands and put into the hands of the students", @KaThibodeaux counselled against too much student ownership, saying that teachers "have to teach students how to discern fact from fiction. Also sometimes inappropriate things pop up."

However, many other teachers pointed out the positives, particularly in terms of what students could be shown. @Jswiatek, from Florida in the US, said that technology allowed him to take his students beyond their classroom: "Technology has opened the world to the students in my small county. Exposed them to things they'd never experience otherwise."

The exploration could work two ways, added @martysnowpaw from Toronto in Canada: "[Technology] has made it possible to open every classroom to the world and invite it in. From authors to astronauts."

And it was not just the students who benefited from a wider network, @wmchamberlain pointed out. "The connections I made online have absolutely made a huge change in my classroom. That only happened because of the tech."

In the end, as with most things, it was agreed that a balance between the present and the past was the best approach. @JoeFerro, proving that teachers love nothing more than a good portmanteau, welcomed "teachnology" but worried that he sometimes taught less content as a result. @CriticalSkills1 echoed this, saying: "So long as good pedagogy comes first and tech comes in support of that, it's a huge help."

Sarah Cunnane

Keep up to date with the latest education chat online by following @tes on Twitter


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