When I was in 8th grade Geometry, my Mathematics teacher opened the door to the new school computer lab, and along with it, my first experience using technology in school. At first I wasn’t sure what we would be using the computers for, if only Number Munchers or the Oregon Trail. You see, my school was very small, in a town whose entire population could probably fit inside the dual, two story Middle and High School building in Nashwauk, Minnesota, population 900. The majority of us didn’t even have computers at home or know how to use one, unless it was for one of the games I mentioned earlier, as a reward for completing lessons in class. I spent many hours in that lab using a large, bulky white mouse, connected to an old boxy Macintosh computer system and dotmatrix printer, moving lines on triangles and other shapes, in order to better understand the degree of its angles or length of its sides.
Fast forward 20 years and it seems that almost every family owns a computer, or at least has access to one at a nearby school or library, can access the Internet, complete online courses from numerous universities and partake in workforce related distance learning. Schools are becoming overcrowded or inconvenient for some, causing parents to home school their children and allowing them to complete online courses to earn their High School diplomas.
It all sounds easy enough, but there can be issues with this practice, such as low funding, spotty connectivity, access to technology or understanding how to use it, and most importantly, creating lessons that, “are compatible with human learning processes” (Clark and Mayer, 2008).
Yet, the benefits of using technology in education, outweigh those issues. For instance, special needs children would benefit greatly by the use of tablets for communication with teachers and peers, tapping the screen to complete lessons and listen to directions, rather than trying to maneuver a bulky mouse that for some, cannot hold onto. In addition. learning social skills and watching videos of themselves created by their teacher to convey what actions are appropriate in complex social settings (Kelly, H., 2014).
Take into account the multitude of available educational sites that schools, students and parents can access to complete either simple, fun math games or more complex lessons, involving graphing and presentations. I know by watching my own children, that they look forward to logging into Khan Academy or Cool Math Games, because they enjoy using technology and are therefore more motivated to learn while using it.
There are 3 separate learning theories associated with technology integration. Situated Cognition supports the idea that learning occurs only when situated within a specific context, Distributed Cognition is the theory that a student-centered approach to learning supports interaction among participants, and Socially-Shared Cognition, where learning is shared among students, artifacts and tools involved and the social institutions in which the learning occurs. These theories help create a learning environment which allows participants to “use their knowledge and skills—by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, and making decisions” (Honey, Mandinach, & McMillan, 2003, p. 9).
I plan to learn as much as I possibly can during the Master of Educational Technology program, so I can fully understand which instructional delivery format and learning theories work best for different students, compared to or adjoined with pen and paper. I also plan to promote the best technology practices, educational sites and learning apps to further our young minds of tomorrow.
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction. (2nd ed). Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.
Honey, M., Mandinach, E., & McMillan, K. C. (2003). A retrospective on twenty years of education technology policy. Education Development Center, Center for Children and Technology, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.
Januszewski, A., Molenda, M. (2010). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kelly, H. (2014). CNN: Using tablets to reach kids with autism. CNN.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Nova Southeastern University: Pearson.