Synthesis paper


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EdTech 501 Final Synthesis Paper
Summer 2009

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Synthesis paper

  1. 1. The Impact of Technology 1 THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION Abstract Technology in the classroom has improved academic achievement in students, encouraged higher-level thinking, increased motivation, assisted teachers in classroom and academic organization, and improved assessment and evaluation. This synthesis paper represents my own thoughts using relevant sources to show how technology has impacted education. The introduction of technology into our classrooms has changed the ways that we think, teach, and learn. The following synthesis will discuss the major areas of education that have been the most impacted by technology and examples will be given. Erin C. Markus Boise State University Educational Technology 501
  2. 2. The Impact of Technology 2 The Impact of Technology in the Education Technology has greatly impacted the educational system, including teaching and learning. We have witnessed some of the most amazing breakthroughs in the history of the world. These breakthroughs are the computer and the internet. The internet has opened doors to places we never thought we would go or see. Introducing the computer age and the internet into the classroom is empowering our children to become worldly thinkers and to see the world in a more analytical point of view. Bringing technology into the classroom has improved academic success in students in many ways. Success is not only at the student level, but also at the teacher level. Computers have assisted teachers in many ways, such as organization, grading, and communication. In this paper, these topics will be addressed using examples from research studies and journals. Computers have impacted our entire educational system, and the proof is in the results. Technology in the classroom has improved academic achievement. One way that achievement has been reached is because of the impact of student collaboration. Students working together and utilizing technology can improve teaming and group research capabilities. Technology applications that enable student collaboration tend to result in improved achievement. According to Scardamalia and Bereiter (1996): In one study, upper-grade elementary students used a software collaboration tool called Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment (CSILE) that enables students and teachers to create and post text and graphics to ask questions, search for other students' answers, give feedback on student responses and work and then reformulate their initial answers and questions. These students performed better on standardized tests in reading, language and vocabulary and on measures of depth of understanding, multiple perspectives and independent thought than students who did not use the software. Students utilizing e-mail and other networks within their school or classroom to communicate with each other and their teachers can be a useful tool. It is not always possible for
  3. 3. The Impact of Technology 3 groups to get together to meet, so using the internet for messaging and communication is another way to work as a group without sitting at a table together when this is not possible. A great example of this kind of collaboration is shown in a fourth and fifth grade science project. In a research study reported by Kafai and Ching (2001): Fourth and fifth grade students were divided into teams of four or five for a 10-week project designing a lesson for teaching third graders about the brain. Science discussions that led fourth and fifth grade students to reformulate the academic content at higher levels also enabled them to:  focus on the design of software screens  choose their research question within the confines of the science subject  choose the software screens to design  choose the methods for conducting their research for teaching third graders about the brain Students who were experienced with collaborative software design tools provided better learning opportunities for their peers who were newcomers to the software. Their extensive questioning functioned as a way for their teams to bootstrap up to the next level of engagement. The combination of whole-classroom science activities with more individualized research questions allowed both for content coverage as well as for activities that were intellectually and socially meaningful to individuals. In this assignment, it is obvious that the students had to work together, but they also had their individual assignments for research that challenged their abilities and then brought the results together as a group project. Having individual research items helped each person to gain a thorough understanding of their content area, add it to the entire project, and in turn, learn what others brought to the project. Case studies conducted at nine school sites (urban, suburban, and rural) suggest that technology can support student learning through collaborative inquiry. Technology provides realistic, complex environments by furnishing investigative tools and data resources and by linking classrooms for joint investigations (Means & Olson, 1997). Collaboration is so important in the classroom and it is a great tool for students to learn before heading into their professional lives where they will have to work collaboratively in
  4. 4. The Impact of Technology 4 whatever field they go in to. Software tools that promote student collaboration also promote "higher level" discussions (Kafai & Ching, 2001). Higher-order thinking skills have improved with home and school access to computers. Coley et al. (1997) and Rockman and Sloan (1995) reported on students with home computers: Students who were supplied home computers and modem access to the school were compared with students who didn't have this equipment. The students with home computers and modem access to school realized:  an increase in all writing skills  better understanding and broader view of math  greater problem-solving and critical thinking skills  ability to teach others  greater self-confidence and self-esteem, and more confidence with computer skills Using educational games and simulations has been a useful tool for educators when teaching complex subjects. Some students need to experience an activity rather than listen to a lecture in order to understand what is being taught. Using the computer for simulations gives them the hands-on learning that they need. Eighth grade students whose teachers effectively used technology for 'simulations and applications' to enhance higher-order thinking skills performed better on the National Assessment of Education Progress test than did students whose teachers did not use the technology. Students whose teachers used the technology primarily for “drill and practice” (generally associated with lower order thinking skills) performed worse on the NAEP (Wenglinsky, 1998). Studies have been done where technology has been used for academic activities and they were compared to lessons completed without using technology as an aid. The results show in most studies that the use of technology promoted higher-level task completion, using more broad thinking and creativity. For example, in comparing task-based education conducted with computers to similar tasks taught without computers, researchers
  5. 5. The Impact of Technology 5 found an increase in experimental risk-taking and self-regulation by students as well as a higher level of conceptualization of the task in the computer-based environment. This study also found an increase in both factual information exchanges and task conceptualization interactions between teachers and students when teaching occurred across computers (Karasivvidis, 2004). When students are being successful and completing tasks with a high-regard to learning and conceptualization, it is evident that motivation to learn more and do better will be obtained by the student. When a student feels success, they want more. This is a fact. Using computers and online tools, students are exposed to so much information and they are eager to learn more about their topics. On top of this, collaboration with other students using technology, as stated before, encourages them to work harder and be more successful in school. Student motivation is enhanced in projects that require online collaboration. Student motivation is enhanced through online collaborative research that includes online communication with peers and experts in other states and countries (Means et al., 1997). Another facet of technology that is highly motivational to students is the use of multimedia. Because our world today is so multimedia based, kids tend to thrive for this kind of academic delivery. Multimedia projects motivate students. Students and teachers reported a positive change in student motivation for class assignments when the use of multimedia was incorporated into classroom instruction. Improved student motivation was the most frequently cited change by all the teachers (Cradler & Cradler, 1999). The bottom line is that kids love multimedia. The kids of today have grown up on it and know nothing but television, DVD’s, and computers. Most of them have even been born since the onset of the internet. The multimedia of the future is going to be pinnacle to our children’s education, but the impact can already be felt today.
  6. 6. The Impact of Technology 6 The use of computer games and simulations has greatly impacted the educational scene. Bringing this technology into the classroom gives the children a true hands-on experience and can cater to those that are visual or kinesthetic learners. Simulations and computer games have been around a long time, such as the original school game Oregon Trail, which most of us born in the 70’s remember. The games now are fully interactive, even using computer-generated likenesses of the students called Avatars. Based on an extensive literature review, (Means et al., 1993) concluded that real-world simulation software programs tend to be highly motivating for students, increase student productivity, and promote the acquisition of advanced skills and knowledge. Means et al. also found that simulation software provides external meaning and context for learning activities, fosters student-centered learning environments, and promotes student-student and student-teacher collaborative learning. Not only are kids learning at young ages to use computers, but they are also becoming familiar with the programming of computers. Programming games are a medium for personal and creative expression. A study of students designing games for younger students to learn mathematics (Kafai, 1996) found that learning about technology and programming supports other types of learning. This is probably one of the greatest educational impacts that computer education has had in recent years. Kids are learning to do what people with a college education used to do. The software available today has made learning programming fun and interactive. We have seen students being positively impacted by technology in the classroom, but what about the teachers? Evidence shows that teachers are greatly benefiting by technologies, not only for using as a teaching tool, but for their own use for organization, grading, and planning. Organization is essential for a teacher to be successful. The use of computers and other technological devices has made this much easier. Teachers can use databases, grade books,
  7. 7. The Impact of Technology 7 and calendars all on their computer. This greatly cuts down on the mess that can accumulate in a teacher’s classroom, leading to a more organized work and teaching space. Technology brings about changes in classroom organization and the role the teacher plays; providing teachers with the tools they need to negotiate these changes is crucial to their success (Muir-Herzic, 2004). While organization is very important to a teacher, evaluation is another one of a teacher’s duties that has also been greatly enhanced since the onset of technology in the classroom. Assessment and Evaluation of student work can be an extensive and tedious job for all teachers. Computers have made this part of education more organized and efficient. Digital tools provide a means for teachers to efficiently and routinely use open-ended response and performance assessments that were previously too cumbersome to score in an efficient manner (Fletcher, 2002). Assessment at the lower grades still is usually a paper and pencil task, but recording and calculating grades has been enhanced by using computer grading programs, such as InteGrade Pro. These programs basically package all inputted grades and produce several different types of grade reports for students, parents, or administration. Having this information readily on hand speeds up the end of term process and can aid in developmental plans by shortening the time of information gathering. At the higher educational levels, computers are used for test taking, grading, and evaluation. As stated in the study by Fletcher, grading open- ended response questions has been easier for scoring and more feedback can be obtained from the student to the teacher or vice versa. Overall, there has been a great impact of technology in the classroom for teachers and administrators. In conclusion, technology is here. It is becoming a mainstay of our society and has now integrated into the educational system with very positive results. The future of our children is
  8. 8. The Impact of Technology 8 going to be dominated by so much technology that we cannot even begin to imagine what they will see and experience. There is no doubt that technology has had an incredible impact on education. There is no telling what will be next.
  9. 9. The Impact of Technology 9 References Scardamalia, M. & Bereiter, C. (1996). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. In T. Kotchmann (Ed.), CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm. Mahwah,NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Means,B. & Olson, K. (1997). Technology and education reform. Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Contact No.RP91-172010. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved February 3, 2003, from Rockman, S. & Sloan, K.R. (1995). Assessing the growth: The Buddy Project evaluation, 1994-5. San Francisco: Authors. Retrieved October 27, 2001, from Coley, R., Cradler, J. & Engel, P. (1997). Computers and classrooms: The statusof technology in U.S. schools. Princeton,NJ: Educational Testing Service, Policy Information Center,37. Kafai, Y.B., & Ching, C.C. (2001). Affordances of collaborative software design planning for elementary students’ science talk. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(3),323-363. Wenglinsky, H. (1998). Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton,NJ: Educational Testing Service. Retrieved March 6, 2002, from Means,B., Coleman, E. Klewis, A.,Quellamlz, E. Marder, C.,& Valdes, K. (1997). GLOBE Year 2 Evaluation.Menlo Park,CA:SRI International. Retrieved February 5, 2003, from Kafai, Y.B. (1996). Software by kids for kids. Communications of the ACM, 39 (4), 38-40. Cradler, J., & Cradler, R. (1999). Just in time: A new model for multimedia training.Evaluation report for 1999. Washington DC: US Office of Education.
  10. 10. The Impact of Technology 10 Means,B. Blando, J., Olson, K., Middleton, T., Morocco, C.C.,Remz, A.R.,& Zorfass,J. (1993). Using Technology to support education reform. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Edcuational Research and Improvement. Retrieved October 26, 2001, from Karasavvidis, I., J.M. Pieters & T. Plomp (2003). Exploring the mechanisms through which computers contribute to learning, Journal of ComputerAssisted Learning,19,115-128. Muir-Herzig, R.M. (2004). Technology and its impact in the classroom, Computers & Educaton, 42, 111- 131. Fletcher, J.D. (2002). Is it worth it? Some comments on research and technology in assessment and Instruction. Technology and Assessment:Thinking Aloud-Proceedings from a Workshop, 26-39. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved May 28, 2002, from