Impact of technology on teaching and learning


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The benefits of technology in the traditional and online classrooms are reviewed. Student performance and perception are researched to see positive impacts in educational environment.

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Impact of technology on teaching and learning

  1. 1. Running head: THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON TEACHING AND LEARNING<br />The Impact of Technology on Teaching and Learning<br />Steven M. Poast<br />Boise State University <br />Abstract<br />The benefits of technology in the traditional and online classrooms are reviewed. Student performance and perception are researched to see positive impacts in educational environment. Student learning styles are related to technology needs and teaching methodologies. The benefits of online learning and the demands needed to succeed are explored. Finally, future innovations and adaptation of technology in education are reviewed. All research shows that technology as part of the educational curriculum benefits student achievement. <br />The Impact of Technology on Teaching and Learning<br />Students today are benefiting from the use of technology in the classroom. Teachers are using software programs to help students improve upon underdeveloped skills in a variety of content areas. Student learning styles help drive home the idea of using technology in differentiated instruction. The push continues to take computer standards from a stand-alone part of school curriculum and blend them into every content standard. Technology is fast becoming a part of our daily lives and educational technology must follow suit.<br />Online learning is becoming the answer to many obstacles in education. Time and distance are no longer trouble spots when it comes to professional and educational development. Students can benefit from a teacher’s experience and expertise no matter the location. A new world is opening up right before our eyes. It is a world of accessibility and growth by digital means. This is a time of imagination and innovation.<br />Technology in the Classroom<br />Technology gives a teacher options in how he or she can reach all the learners in the class. Computers in the classroom provide students with the opportunity to get practice on basic content skills as well as enrichment opportunities. <br /><ul><li>One of the earliest uses of computers in classrooms was to teach the traditional curriculum and basic skills, often operating as a means to deliver instruction, sometimes as a supplement to the teachers’ classroom instruction, and sometimes in lieu of the teachers’ instruction. CITATION Fou03 l 1033 (Fouts, 2003)</li></ul>Education is not a one-size-fits-all business. Each student brings his or her own learning style to the class. It is up to the teacher to develop lessons which will utilize each student’s way of processing information. Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. These intelligences include: Linguistic/Verbal, Visual/Spatial, Logical/Mathematical, Musical, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. By understanding how to present information to students, teachers have a better chance of seeing success in their classroom. The range of technology available provides teachers with a plethora of options for differentiated instruction.<br />Software programs like CALL (computer assisted language learning) and MathMedia Educational software, give students struggling to understand such concepts, a chance to break down these skills at a more remedial rate. Word processing has been shown to improve student writing and organization compared to traditional writing instruction. In Statham and Torell’s Computers in Classroom, studies of student writing instruction were reviewed. One study focused on 7th and 8th grade students with learning disabilities. The students were taught peer review strategies and word processing. Some of the findings included:<br /><ul><li>All students improved their content revisions and the number of revisions. Five of six students wrote higher-quality paper-and-pencil compositions following instruction. Once students learned to use the student editor strategy, they were able to help each other make more revisions and improve the quality of their papers. Students with learning disabilities appear to benefit from the increased structure and direct instruction.” CITATION Str96 l 1033 (Stratham & Torell, 1996) </li></ul>Even though all the students had writing difficulties, they all had experience using a word processor. By incorporating that technology with a scaffolding system of teaching, this study shows just how successful students can be.<br />When it comes to student success, the computer serves as a tool for not only academic improvement but also self-confidence. Computer technology has definitely changed over the past several decades. However the focus of why technology is used in the classroom remains the same: to improve student learning. In A Retrospective of Twenty Years of Education Technology Policy, Fouts (2003) lists several conclusions made by individual reviewers of educational technologies, in regards to computer use in the classroom. <br /><ul><li>When combined with traditional instruction, the use of computers can increase student learning in the traditional curriculum and basic skills area.
  2. 2. The integration of computers with traditional instruction produces higher academic achievement in a variety of subject areas than does traditional instruction alone.
  3. 3. Students learn more quickly and with greater retention when learning with the aid of computers.
  4. 4. Students like learning with computers, and their attitudes toward learning and school are positively affected by computer use.
  5. 5. The use of computers appears most promising for low achieving and at-risk students.
  6. 6. Effective and adequate teacher training is an integral element of successful learning programs based on or assisted by technology.</li></ul>Of all these conclusions, “students like learning with computers” is the most meaningful. A student showing interests in what is being taught is a delight to every teacher. A teacher must take and develop that interest into curiosity and motivation. Critical thinking programs can provide challenges for students with such motivation. A student using the science program Alien Rescue commented not only on science concepts, but critical-thinking and research.<br /><ul><li>I’ve learned to use all of the scientific method, and to really put my mind into it, just concentrating and focusing. It’s kind of like you’re a real scientist and it brings you to know how to do the specific things like the scientific method, and how to research and collect data. CITATION Liu05 l 1033 (Liu, 2005)</li></ul>Today’s students are thinkers and doers. They want to demonstrate with projects as well as collaborate on research. The internet allows this generation of learners to go out and find answers on their own. Critical thinking and analyzing skills are taking the place of memorizing knowledge. Today it’s about how students gather and process information.<br /><ul><li>Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocates, “To cope with the demands of the 21st century, people need to know more than core subjects. They need to know how to use their knowledge and skills— by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, making decisions” (Culp, 2003, p. 9)</li></ul>Today’s students are thinkers and doers. They want to demonstrate with projects as well as collaborate on research. Simulations that put students in the middle of the action help link their minds into the world teachers want them to understand. Computer software programs such as IMMEX, (Interactive Multimedia Exercise) give students the opportunity to develop their problem solving skills in various content areas. A virtual tour defined by Wikipedia as,” a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of video images. They also may use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text,” provides an interactive approach to learning. WebQuests, an inquiry oriented activity requires students use the internet, or “web” to gather information on a particular topic. These resources allow students to travel to far off places via the internet to learn about other cultures, traditions and lifestyles. Technology is the advantage students need to succeed in the classroom and beyond<br />Online Teaching & Learning<br />21st century skills mentioned in the previous section, really come into play during an online course. Critical thinking, analysis, collaboration, initiative and communication are just some of skills online students develop during their coursework. It’s not just about the content. It’s how you use that content that matters. Whether it’s math, writing workshops, psychology or education technology, how you analyze and synthesize material is just as if not more important than knowing the material in precise detail.<br />Students can benefit greatly in the online course option. Geography is no longer a deterrent for educational or professional development. In Yvette Aqui’s report, Characteristics of an Online Learner, she notes “a higher percentage of those enrolled in their institution’s distance education courses are legal residents of that same state” (2005). The flexibility to work and review lectures on your own time makes online classes a very attractive educational option. Especially since many of these potential students work and have family responsibilities. <br />The online student must bring to the table certain skills and traits in order to be successful. Basic computer skills in word processing, email management, internet navigation and internet access are important skills for a first time online student. Time management and self-discipline are vital in being successful in the online academic world. The student is in charge of checking for assignments, meeting deadlines and keeping up with posting discussions for classmates. At first glance taking an online class may appear easier than its classroom counterpart, but that it simply not true. <br /><ul><li>Results from this study indicated that participants spent anywhere between 4 to 7 days a week working on the course. About 49% of the respondents devoted at least 6-10 hours a week on course related activities (both off and online). (Aqui, 2005)</li></ul>Just like any other class, online classes take time and patience to develop. However, the uncertainty of communication via email and discussion boards can be fearful to many instructors and students. Interaction is a key component to a successful experience in an online class. Teachers must be skilled in ways to develop a sense of community among learners engaging primarily through keyboard and mouse. An online courses’ success depends on a positive environment where students are constantly involved with classmates and the instructor. “Instructor assistance, interpersonal encouragement, and collaborative peer interaction is needed to create more satisfactory and effective online learning environments” CITATION Ive05 l 1033 (Ivers, 2005). Small group activities and constant feedback by both instructor and peers helps to build this sense of community. Once a sense of community and involvement are established most students feel just as comfortable in their online class as they would be in a traditional classroom. <br />Online courses are growing at an astounding rate, resulting in a demand for online teachers. The need for coursework at every level from certification to doctorate level classes makes the need for online instructors high. Even as many K-12 systems and universities develop plans to provide online classes for their students, finding those individuals with the skills and knowledge to design such classes can be difficult. This is a sign of the times; teaching and technology moving together to provide educational opportunities in the online world.<br />Future of Teaching and Technology<br />Changes in technology mean changes in the teaching methodology that goes along with it. Money is being invested not only in professional development, but for up-to-date equipment designed specifically for classroom. There is definite government support to make classroom technology part of our future. “The U.S. Congress, in 1994, announced that facilitating teachers to use technology effectively may be the most important step to ensuring that current and future investments in technology are fulfilled” (Stubbs, 2007). Schools can apply for grants to purchase technology needs from laptop computers to teacher training. <br />Technological innovations continue to adapt into education. SmartBoard technology provides teachers with many options for student participation and collaboration. PDAs and GPS devices once thought to be only for professional adults are now being used by children in classrooms across the country. The video posting site YouTube has become so popular that EduTube and TeacherTube were developed to fill a need for online video presentation from the educational perspective. Many students will use Google just to see what is out there. The “there” is as abstract a place as one could imagine, but to today’s students that normal. Technology is a fabric of our lives, so it must be for the education of our students.<br />Conclusion<br />Over the past several decades there have been great advances in the world of technology. It is important for educators to keep up with the current trends and innovations. While technology for technology’s sake should never be the answer, it is important to know what is available and how it can be used in the classroom. Today’s classrooms are filled with students of varying learning styles and interests. Technology can be an important tool in bridging the gap between student interest and teacher knowledge. <br />As today’s future teachers are being trained, it is important they understand the importance of technology and the role it should play in education. A group of pre-service teachers at the University of Florida were surveyed about their perceptions on integrating technology into their teaching and learning environments. Here is a response from Participant 1:<br />Technology would be just a part of teacher education and not apart from teacher<br />education. It would look like the content of the teacher education concept that<br />happened to use technology—not where it looks like technology. Technology<br />would be everywhere but it wouldn’t be noticed because it was so embedded in<br />the lesson, course, and context. (Swain, 2005)<br />Technology literacy, knowing about technology, will not be the norm. Technology fluency, being able to use technology, will be the standard. As more information is made accessible via the internet it becomes more important for tomorrow’s students to know how to access that information and how to use it.<br />It is important that local, state and national standards dictate technology be integrated into content standards. Technology cannot simply be its own content standard. Technology is used in many aspects of our daily lives, so we must prepare our future citizens to effectively use current technology. We must also instill these same students with the imagination to take today’s technology and develop it into tomorrow’s innovation.<br />References<br />Aqui, Y. M. (2005). Characteristics of the online learner: Experiences, participation level, and achievement. Las Vegas, NV.<br />Culp, K. M. (2003). A retrospective on twenty years of educational technology policy. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.<br />Fouts, J. T. (2003). Research on computers and education. Seattle: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.<br />Ivers, K., Lee, J., Carter-Wells, J. (2005). Students’ attitudes and perceptions of online instruction. Fullerton, CA.<br />Liu, M. (2005). Motivating students through problem-based learning. Austin, TX.<br />Stratham, D. S., & Torell, C. R. (1996). Computers in the classroom: the impact on student learning. Boise, ID: Army Research Institute.<br />Stubbs, K. (2007). Use of technology in teacher preparation programs. National Educational Computing Conference. San Antonio, TX.<br />Swain, C. (2005). Technology in teacher education: Faculty visions and decision making. National Educational Computing Conference. San Antonio, TX.<br />