Do classrooms benefit from more tech?

imgresI recently read a post by David F. Carr from Information Week, entitled “Classroom technology faces skeptics at research universities.” His detailing of a study done and published in the January edition of the Journal, Science, Technology & Hunan Values. Basically, professors at top universities don’t like being told to use technology in their classrooms, and they also feel in most cases that the technology does not add any value to the education.  While I can see both sides of this argument, and even though I am somewhat of technophile, I can freely say tech isn’t always the answer. However, I can’t image that interactive tablet textbooks or apps like LeafSnap don’t make a huge difference in actual learning, at any university. Is this a case of technology being used for the sake of technology, or does technology in the classroom make learning better? From what I can tell it’s probably a mix of both.  Some professors commented that they were forced to put notes online when and an emailed Powerpoint (also a type of tech BTW) or simple paper copy would suffice.  I can see how that may come off as tech for the sake of tech. On the other hand, I would have loved a reliable place I could look when I missed class, so that I could catch up on notes and assignments. I would probably have missed class a lot more, I guess that’s a vote for remote learning! I’m interested in your thoughts on this, on either side of the arugment…

2 thoughts on “Do classrooms benefit from more tech?

  1. Great post Mike. I actually believe that tech can be/is/should be a HUGE positive influence in education. HOWEVER, that all depends on the tech, doesn’t it? I’ll use an example near and dear to our hearts. When I was a kid and started playing guitar, if I wanted to learn a song, I had a few (analog) options. I could get a recording (cassette…dating myself) and painstakingly work out each part to the tape. Or I could pay for a teacher to show me the licks. Or I could buy a book, which inevitably wasn’t right. Fast forward to today. My son now plays guitar, ukelele, percussion, drums, and sings. All in a much accelerated time frame. Why? Well, while talent surely helps, he has the world at his fingertips through technology. Want to learn that song? Here are 27 YouTube videos which explore every nuance or every trill and hammer on. Another example takes me to college biology. Remember those full page diagrams of the Krebs cycle? How much easy is that to understand as a multi-part animation, where we can see the interactions of each component molecule? The point being, that content makes a difference, if done right. And the delivery of that content, is what technology makes possible. No I don’t believe that its a cure all, but looking at Khan Academy and more, I can see a demonstrable, if anecdotal, impact. It may also be true that different learning styles may react differently. I tend to be quite visual, so technology is a great boon to me. To others, maybe not. I guess the point is, it’s no longer a broad brush approach. We can tailor the experience using content designed to have maximum impact for that user/student.

    1. I love using youtube to learn songs on the guitar, it’s much better than looking at a book! I completely agree! That’s probably why the professors contacted in the study hate the tech, it makes then feel irrelevant. I would say they need to reframe it by embracing the technology, image how many more students could learn from their experience if they youtubed all their lessons…

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