Now, if you are asking yourself what a “productivity suite” is, look no further, follow the link here to find out more, and for further understanding watch this video of an exemplar of a company productivity suite.
Even in the root word of this concept, it focuses on productivity and efficiency. It appears the major two companies that education relies on for productivity suites are Microsoft 365, and Google Suites. Both of these programs create a collaborative method for connecting and communicating with a team in an efficient way. Personally, Google Suite has become a critical aspect of organizing my classroom material, content, and lessons in a straightforward yet methodical manner to maximize efficiency. I really love it when I can easily access previous years’ content and see my own professional growth and development. However, as much as I thoroughly enjoy my experience with Google programs, it is the students who should be the focus of this discussion. , I have noticed that there is a disparity among students and their access to Google programs and technology at home. Some of the reoccurring thoughts and questions this semester are triggered about productivity suites in education and those revolve around:
- Who benefits because of these products?
- Do these programs offer deeper learning opportunities for all students?
- What type of knowledge are we valuing utilizing these programs?
- What are the implicit messages that we are conveying to students by using these programs?
I certainly do not have an answer or solution to these questions, but I do think there is value in being cognizant of their impact in the classroom, and awareness that we as educators need to have as we often make decisions for the sake of “advancement” in educational technology. I am reminded of a quote by John F. Kennedy that eloquently states the importance of education and how that may contrast key notions of productivity suites in the classroom.
“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth”
In reflecting on that quote, and examining the use of various productivity programs in the classroom, it is challenging to have a concrete answer there. It is convicting to think about how the answer to some of those questions above only really benefits the students who do not need it, thus broadening the inequity gap. However, some key takeaways from the quote reveal what type of knowledge are we aiming for students to aspire towards, and what our own understanding of truth and its validity will inherently be transcended to students through osmosis.
I do think that the varying productivity suites that are utilized in the classroom are designed with the focus and efficiency of the teacher (Teacher Centric), yet these tools are to aid in learning, and not become the main vehicle of learning. Therefore, I think it is critical to examine how we use these programs, their positive and negative impact, and reflect on whether the ends justify the means.