5 Characteristics of Meaningful Technology Use in Education
Technology used in education should enhance learning rather than get in the way of learning, which can happen if learners are distracted from learning due to difficulties with the technology or a failure to understand how the technology relates to the learning goals. While educators have a number of technology tools available to choose from, it is essential that the chosen technologies tie well into the curriculum and that the educators consider the learning goals before deciding which technology to use. To ensure meaningful technology use, educators should consider if the technology being introduced possesses the following five characteristics.
- Allow Collaboration: Technology tools should allow for collaboration, anywhere and anytime. Collaboration is a key element of 21st-century learning. According to Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, students spend only 14% of their time in school (Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, 2002, p. 23). Providing tools to learn collaboratively outside of school is a prominent advantage of good educational technology.
- Allow Real-time Feedback: Technology tools should allow the learners to receive real-time, formative feedback from teachers and peers. Meaningful technology in education allows timely feedback and provides learners with opportunities to improve their work in a more effective and efficient manner.
- Encourage Higher Order Thinking Skills: Technology tools should encourage higher order thinking skills. An example would be a tool that allows the learner to visually represent a summary or synthesis task. Nearly two decades ago, Jonassen stated, “Technologies present information, ask questions, and judge answers (all of which humans do better), while students receive, store, and retrieve information (all of which computers do better). What results in learners is inert, unusable knowledge” (1999, p. 14). The statement is still valid. It is important to switch the role of technology so that the students are asking the questions and presenting the information.
- Immerse in Real-World Authentic Tasks: Meaningful technology use in education should involve student interaction with real audiences for authentic purposes. Social media can become a powerful learning tool because it helps students learn in an authentic context.
- Accessible & Customizable: Technology tools should be accessible and customizable to suit learner abilities and needs. Tapscott (2009) stated that the Net Generation looks for tools that have the potential to be customized, even if they do not make any changes to it. Good educational technology should allow Universal Design for Learning and differentiation based on learner abilities and preferences.
Donovan, M.S, Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J.W. (2002). Key Findings. In How people learn: Bridging research & practice (pp. 10-24). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Jonassen, D.H., Peck, K.L. & Wilson, B.G. (1999). Learning with technology: A constructivist perspective. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p12-14.
Tapscott, D. (2009). The eight net gen norms. In Grown up digital (pp.75-96). Toronto, Ontario: McGraw-Hill.