Does technology improve learning or hinder it?
A lot has been written and will continue to be written about whether technology improves learning or hinders it. Here are just three such articles that I’ve seen in the last several months:
- How Classroom Technology is Holding Students Back
- What Opportunities are Lost when you Ban Technology
- Using Computers in the Classroom: Shifting from Consumption to Creation
All worth the read, and important for educators to see both sides of the issue.
Education and Learning are Complicated!
Try to do a research study to show learning. Think about what goes into a learning environment: state mandates, standards, curriculum, assessments, instruction, curricular materials, physical space of the classroom and ‘stuff’ in it, technology, building leader, students and of course the teacher. All of these variables affect learning. We know from several studies that the teacher is the most important component in a classroom. They set the climate, and without a caring, accepting environment we know learning can not take place. We also know that the ‘how’ in learning is key. How does the teacher take all the variables and design lessons, using sound pedagogy, that increases the opportunities and possibilities for learning? And I’m not just talking about students knowing the ‘stuff’ of learning, but whether they can apply, transfer and solve problems using the knowledge that they have built.
To me it isn’t simply should you have technology or not. ALL classrooms and ALL students need to have access to technology. This should be a given, just like the other ‘stuff’ that makes up a classroom. If we ignore our students’ technological world we are doing them a grave disservice.
The Bottom Line
Good teaching and amazing learning before the technology is the same (with new possibilities) as with technology. Bad teaching, ie worksheets, and regurgitation of facts was bad before technology and adding a digital component doesn’t make it better!
@tomwhitby I couldn’t agree more! In order for the technology to make a difference, we need to focus on the pedagogy, supporting and encouraging good, sound, quality learning experiences in a caring environment!
Caitlin Tucker (@Catlin_Tucker) recently called out 3 issues that are part of poor technology integration in the classroom: (Check out Using Computers in the Classroom: Shifting from Consumption to Creation to read the full post and some of my specific thoughts about it here.)
- Technology often used to isolate learners
- There is a lack of balance between online and offline work
- Too often computers relegate students to a passive, consumptive role instead of encouraging playful learning and creation.
Good, sound, quality learning experiences
So what does good, sound, quality learning experiences in a caring technology-filled environment look like? To further explore this I really like Liz Kolb’s Triple E framework, which I’ve introduced on my Technology Integration page as one of the most recent models of technology integration. She highlights the following themes to consider when integrating technology:
- Instructional Strategies
- Application of use
I am a HUGE fan of balance and purpose. I am also more and more coaching teachers in how to have students engaging with each other, problem solving and exploring ideas while co-using technology. Co-using brings into the equation the social interaction of working as a team to solve a problem or design a solution.
When I do a quick search on twitter I find a hashtag #TechTeamwork referencing many things around teams using technology to get the job done. I’m going to start using this hashtag more to show awesome ways teachers are having students co-use technology in order to have them collaborate and socially engage with each other around a problem or in a project.
What are you doing to design lessons that involve #TechTeamwork? I’d love to hear from you!