As I began to think about this blog, I wanted to make sure that the focus stays on how technology can support learning. I am the first to admit that I am tempted to be swayed by the bells, whistles, and excitement that new technologies can offer. I tend to be a “yes” person when it comes to technology as I am not afraid of change, in fact I embrace change. However, educators who use technology need to think carefully about how technology is supporting learning objectives. That being said, sometimes we don’t know how technology can support learning until we play with it a bit. From my own experience, as we begin to use a new technology we move through stages as we begin to understand the technology and we begin to see how it can support learning. Sometimes it is our students who teach us how a technology can support learning. I am currently playing around with Twitter- and am thinking about how I might be able to use this in a teaching situation.
That being said the research on technology for learning tends to support a number of themes:
- The learners should be engaged with the technology as much as possible. Specifically, the learner should control the technology, not the other way around. For example, in most cases, drill and practice software games keeps learners out of the driver’s seat and thinking at fairly low levels.
- The technology should support higher level thinking. Typically, this can be seen when the learner is engaged in inquiry-based learning or project based learning. (Think- constructivism!) For example, learners who create a digital video project to demonstrate their learning are most likely working at a higher level.
- Certain technologies are better at supporting certain content areas over others. For example, students in mathematics should be exposed to graphing calculators. Science students should be working with probes and digital scales.
- HINT: The students should be using the technology– not just the teacher! Many teachers are using technology on a daily basis but they have not made it a priority to get their students using it. For example, using a Power Point project each day with your students really does not constitute an optimal learning experience.
It’s time to really examine HOW we are using technology in the classroom and WHO is using the technology.