When implementing technology into the curriculum, educators must be mindful of the impact that technology will have as well as its considerations for learning. Reflecting back on personal experience with technology in the classroom, I found that using technological tools that provide the opportunity for meaningful interaction and collaboration to be the most engaging for students. With careful selection of appropriate digital tools for the classroom, technology can facilitate teaching and learning in many areas. Below is a non exhaustive list of ways in which technology can be used to enhance student engagement and promote understanding. Some suggestions for how educators can effectively use technology in the classroom are included. I also outline examples of learning skills that can be enhanced with the implementation of specific technologies.
1. Inquiry-Based Learning. Technology can be a useful asset when incorporating inquiry-based learning exercises into the classroom. This involves allowing students to work with technology to attempt to solve a problem before being taught the solution (Brown, Roediger & McDaniel, 2014). Incorporating inquiry-based learning into the classroom provides students with the opportunity to experiment with new technologies, collaborate with peers and enhance cognitive skills to answer the "how" and "why" pertaining to questions of interest (Harris, 2017). Technological applications that promote inquiry-based learning include Google Science Journal to encourage observation and exploration and Khan Academy to encourage self-directed learning (Petty, 2009).
2. Collaboration. Students can work together using technology to problem solve, clarify explanations, build upon each other’s knowledge and suggest goal-oriented avenues for learning (Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, 2002). This was apparent in the grade eight classroom I was completing my placement at during my B.Ed. Students enjoyed using Google Documents and Google Classrooms as well as SMART Board as technological platforms to work together on class activities. These tools can be utilized to include peer assessment and tutoring to further promote collaborative learning (Tapscott, 2009).
3. Scaffolding. Educators should gradually introduce new technologies to students and slowly familiarize them with different digital tools. One suggestion would be to introduce students to a simplified technology and then gradually promote deeper learning with more complex technologies. An example of this would be familiarizing students with a platform such as Microsoft Word and then gradually introducing a similar, yet more advanced and collaborative technological application such as Google Documents (Brown et al., 2014)
4. Feedback. When implementing new technology into the classroom, it is not only important to provide consistent feedback to students as they use the tools, but also encourage feedback from them regarding challenges and benefits of that technology for their learning. Teachers should check in with students and provide feedback along the way to ensure that students are understanding different technological platforms and how to use them. For example, teachers assign presentations using digital platforms such as iMovie and Camtasia (Petty, 2009).
5. Utilizing Knowledge. Technological tools provide platforms for students to be creative, collaborate with others and put their knowledge into practice by applying it to real-world situations. Encouraging students to utilize knowledge through the use of technology can be achieved through the use of Google Science Journal to encourage observation and exploration of the world as well as Twitter to share ideas and learn about real-world issues on an online social platform (Prensky, 2010). This also helps to promote deeper understanding of course content as opposed to simple regurgitation like what is often seen in traditional assessment methods (i.e. tests and quizzes).
6. Deep Learning. When introducing technological tools, it is important for instructors to do so gradually so as not to overwhelm students. Teachers should allow students the time to explorer fewer technological tools in detail in order to take advantage of the multiple features involved rather than introducing many tools at once (Donovan et al., 2002).
7. Guide on the Side. Students will benefit from being provided with the space and time to work with technological tools hands-on. Rather than having the instructor walk through every aspect of the digital tools, provide students with the opportunity for trial and error to facilitate deeper understanding. The role of educators in this case would be to guide the learning process, monitor progress and provide feedback where needed.
I have included a graphic that summarizes much of what has been discussed in this blog post (also used for my Foundations Checklist!). The graphic includes specific technological examples that can be used to achieve some of the learning goals mentioned above as well as some additional information.
Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Learning is misunderstood. In Make it stick (pp. 1-22). Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
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.
Harris, G. (2017). Implementing Inquiry-Based Learning through Collaboration. Teacher
Librarian, 44(3), 26.
Petty, G. (2009). John Hattie’s table of effect sizes. In Evidence-based teaching (2nd Ed) (pp. 60-70). Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Theories.
Prensky, M. (2010). Partnering. Teaching digital natives. Partnering for real learning (pp.9-
29). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Tapscott, D. (2009). The eight net gen norms. In Grown up digital (pp.75-96). Toronto, Ontario: McGraw-Hill.