Nowadays, the use of formal teaching tech does not come on its own. It is complemented by informal online teaching environments. Examples of these usually include instant messaging platforms and applications (e.g., WhatsApp, telegram etc.) that educators use to share with students, multi-modal information, links and hypertextual material, essential for their learning. The use of informal web-based spaces brings with it challenges as well. The sense of fragmentation and incoherence are examples of such challenges. The screen interface, especially in mobile devices, limits visibility and readability. Also, the need for immediate response allows for rather superficial exchanges to arise, according to experiences shared by teachers.
However, we need to think beyond the dichotomy of right/wrong and revisit the integration of technology by contextualizing it.
It is true, for instance, that it is challenging for teachers to read student assignments on the screen of mobile devices. But it doesn’t really matter.
As the experience of the catastrophic events of the pandemic has shown, this way of writing is better than having no options at all for completing assignments. As M. Cucher writes, in a situation when everything is in flux, , like in Puerto Rico, many students are dealing, not only with changes in schedules workwise and school-wise. As well, for some the change meant they had to use their phones to participate in class activities from work to avoid losing income and steady employment; for others, that they had connect to classes from the homes of elderly relatives. Many more can be added to these experiences, from different places in the world, showing that instant messaging made it possible for students to continue being connected with the community and their learning.
Drawing from my own experience, it was through Telegram groups that I kept being connected with students from Al-Azhar University during the tumultuous 11-day war situation in Gaza. With instant messaging technologies, the students shared videos, images and texts about how their own imaginaries of a better future in the area.
There is more to share about the students’ video storytelling from Gaza and will do so, in a later post.
For the moment, for the featured image of this post, a pic shared by a student in AUG, in April 2021.
Concluding this one, once again I will point out that it is the stories of using the technologies that make the use of technology matter.
It is the why’s and the how’s and what historical events and what spaces these were happening that make the use of technology pedagogical.