Module four Learning Theory and Technology

There are many proponents of both the objectivist and constructivist learning theories within both the teaching and academic community. Subsequently there are many different technologies based on both constructivist inquiry based learning and objectivist directed instruction.

Technologies designed to aid teaching based on objectivist learning theories are often designed to impart information in a logical, step,by step scaffolded process. There are often drills, step by step tutorials, and integrated learning systems designed to catch the students attention. These programs are required to have clearly stated outcomes and then ordered sequences that can be completed step by step so that prerequisite skills can be learnt in the correct sequence required to learn new skills (Roblyer & Doering 2014)

With constructivist learning there is a much greater level of self directed experience based learning and this is reflected in the technologies and software available. To avoid inert knowledge, the inability to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and problem solving ( Roblyer and Doering 2014), there have been a series of experience based programs which attempt to help students form connections between the newly acquired knowledge such as the use of tutorials and videos that can act as visual aids for students to model themselves on. There is now a growing trend towards the use of mobile technologies such as iPads for students to engage in their own learning and have teachers act more as facilitators. There are many ways in which technology can assist self directed learning, such as allowing for a greater level of team work, facilitating different types of learning such as visual or aural learning depending on the students individual needs and, with latest developments of immersive software, allowing students to fully immerse in an environment and fully experience it.

Connectivism is a theory which incorporates technology as an active agent in a learning information network. According to educational theorist George Siemens learning requires the ability to access information and distribute it through a network. In order for this to be effective, Siemens argues, the technology itself has to have a significant role and act as a node in this network, creating a social and informational relationship between people and technology (Siemens 2004)

One of the main features of this theory is the sharing of information. With ubiquitous technology easily available and accessed, much information can be offloaded into cloud software, which allows one to store information on-line which can then be accessed from any device. This is very useful and is being used in schools. The cloud technology also allows collaboration between students and fosters a mix of formal and informal learning, with students easily accessing infor action and communicating with each other through these information networks at home. The social network capacity of connectivism is still being explored and the validity of connectivism as a learning theory rather than an information theory exploring ways to access information and enable learning is still being assessed and debated. ( Duke, Harper & Johnston 2013)
Duke, Harper & Johnston. (2013). Connectivism as a Digital Age Learning Theory. International HETL review. Retrieved 11 August 2016 https://www.hetl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HETLReview2013SpecialIssueArticle1.pdf
Siemen, G. (2005) ‘Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age’, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10. Retrieved 10 August 2016 https://www.hetl.org/wpcontent/uploads/…/HETLReview2013SpecialIssueArticle1.pdf

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition,(6th Edition), Pearson.

Module four Interactive whiteboard

The use of interactive whiteboards is steadily increasing with over half the school in England and a growing proportion of schools around the world incorporating them into their classrooms (Lacina 2009). There has been much discussion about the benefits and growing research on their effectiveness in the classroom. There have been many benefits reported such as increased motivation and engagement, mainly due to the increase of interactivity where students are actively participating in the classroom (Dalagarno, Tinkler & Winzenried (2010). One of the overriding issues that seems to be raised again and again is the level of professional development required and the amount of flexibility required on both thepart of the teacher and the technology to adapt to different curriculums and subjects.

The use of ICW technology in the classroom requires a whiteboard, computer, LCD projector and appropriate software, which allows the whiteboard to essentially become an interactive computer (Interactive Whiteboards Enhance Classroom Interraction & learning 2008). The potential problems include software compatibility and price, with some equipment being very expensive (Lacina 2009). There is also the problem of interaction with large classrooms of students. In these situations where there are limited opportunities for one on one interaction there may be opportunities to roster turns or engage with the technology in different ways, for example by group collaboration.

One of the positive findings that have come out of several studies is the willingness and ability for teachers to engage with the technology and adapt their teaching styles to best use the software (Dalagarno, Tinkler & Wizenried 2010). With professional development as well as informal collaboration with students and other teachers, teachers can use this technology to suit their classes. In order for the technology to be effective, there has to be flexibility for adaptation to the classroom, subject and individual students.

Dalagarno, Tinkler & Winzenried. (2010) The Interactive whiteboard: A Transitional technology supporting diverse teaching practices, Australian Journal of Educational Technology 26(4) pp 534-552

Interactive Whiteboards Enhance Classroom Activity. (2008) Retrieved September 12 2016 from https://m.neamb.com/professional-resources/benefits-of-interactive-whiteboards.htm

Lacina, J. (2009). Interactive whiteboards: creating higher-level, technological thinkers? Childhood Education, 85(4), 270-272

Module four BYOD

Many schools are introducing BYOD programs to allow for easier access to information and a greater ability for communication and collaboration. The use of mobile technologies will allow more student centred enqiry based learning, allowing teachers to act as facilitators, helping students gain the skills required to be good 21st century citizens.

One of the prevailing arguments against the implementation of BYOD technology is that it is distracting and that teachers will not be able to keep up or understand the new technologies being brought into the classroom. Arguments have also been made that there is a danger of an over emphasis on technology and less of a focus on pedagogy. However much of the literature supports the benefits from student centered learning (New South Wales Gov. 2013). There have been a number of professional development courses set up for teachers to learn how to implement these technologies in the classroom and the results have been largely positive with teachers reporting back that due to the implementation of technology there has been a greater channel of communication not only between the students but between the students and the teachers (Adhikari & Parsons 2016). This collaboration has in turn lead to students having more agency in the classroom and being more engaged and motivated (Nielson 2011).

There has also been a push to have pedagogy based professional development for teachers with training focusing on the technology being used as a tool rather than just focusing on the technology as an end in itself (New South Wales Gov. 2013).

There is an argument that many students from low socio-economic backgrounds will not be able to afford mobile devices, thus creating a digital divide in the classroom creating an inequity between those with the technology and those without (New South Wales Gov. 2013, Adhikari & Parsons 2016). However there is growing evidence that disputes this. In 2012 the Beyond Classroom report by the DEAG made several recommendations about the use of technology and implementation of a BYOD policy in Australian schools. Recommendation two states that children should have access to smart devices with Internet connection where possible and that disadvantaged students should be supported with infrastructure inside and out of the school including easily accessible broadband connection (DEAG 2013). This recommendation has been addressed in many schools by implementing a loan to buy program where the students can pay off their devices as they use them. This will enable students to better access and afford these technologies thus reducing the digital divide.
Adhikari J. & Parsons D. (2016) ‘Bring Your Own Device to Secondary School: The Persceptions of Teachers, Students and Parents’ The Electronic Journal of e-Learning. Vol14(1) Retrieved July 26, 2016
http://www.ejel.org/issue/download.html?idArticle=487

Digital Education Advisory Group. (2013). Beyond the classroom: A new digital education for young Australians in the 21st century. Retrieved July 24, 2016 http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/deag_beyond_the_classroom_2013.pdf

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities. (2013).Bring your Own Device (BYOD) in Schools 2013 Literature Review. Retrieved July 26, 2016
https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/…/mobile…/BYOD_2013_Literature_Review.pdf

Nielson, L (2011) 7 Myths about BYOD debunked, Retrieved 27 July, 2016 https://thejournal.com/articles/2011/11/09/7-byod-myths.aspx

Module Four QR codes

QR codes can be a usefuL tool in the classroom for quick and easy access to information. By providing QR codes which can be easily scanned by any smart phone, teachers can short circuit the typing in of URLs and hunting around for information which can be time consuming. They can also be useful for students who have trouble reading and writing, or younger students who have trouble navigating the Internet.

There are many ways to use QR technology in the classroom such as creating information hotspots around the room, setting up QR workstations for collaborative work, adapting textbooks by having QR codes directing students to supplementary audio and video media and attaching QR codes to homework for students to access helpful information when at home.
O’Connor G. (2012). QR Codes what are they and how can I use them in my classroom? Retrieved from http://www.spectronics.com.au/blog/apps-and-mobile-learning/qr-codes-what-are-they-and-how-can-i-use-them-in-my-classroom/

Module three Hardware in the classroom

iPads are mobile operating systems with high resolution screens and multi touch finger-drawn interfaces. There are many apps available in an extensive app market, with many apps designed specifically for iPads. They are seen as particularly suitable for a school environment as they feature colourful bright screens, an intuitive interface and are slim and easily transportable.

There are many benefits associated with the incorporation of iPads into the classroom. With a mobile device on hand students can use web based resources, store information in the cloud and engage in independent and collaborative work. With the addition of wifi features in the newer models iPads are easily connectable to the Internet . Students can use learning apps such as iBooks and translation tools and tailer different apps to their individual learning needs.

There are some challenges associated with iPads in schools. The school has to have a proper adoption policy with someone, usually the school or the parents, footing the bill. This can be expensive and unrealistic within a schools tight budget. Although the they encourage collaboration, there are the impracticalities of only one student being able to use an iPad at a time.

One great resource I found was a website called teaching ideas. It can be found at http://www.teachingideas.co.uk. It has tabs you can click on sorted by subject, and then a list of more specific subject areas with applicable apps.

Module three affordances

In the framework of the educational environment the affordances of technology are often related to function, utility, adaptability and communication. In my ideal classroom setup I would love to have technologies that have affordances for different types of functions as well as qualitative affordances such as usability and reliability to ensure a reliable product that can be depended on.

The technology I would use in the classroom would have to rely on the individual technological requirements for the classroom task, but in general I would like a technology that is able to allow communication and collaboration between students and also allow physical manipulation and interaction. I find the affordances of technology like Nintendo wifi really interesting, as the motion sensor allow physical input and the use of kinetics and movement to become part of the learning process.
The idea of perceived affordance is an interesting one, in that it argues that until the affordance is perceived by the user, the object is useless. This ties in with the theme of technology as a tool and a method, and the level of understanding that is required by teachers and students to operate it. I think judging the appropriateness of technology by its affordance is one method for making sure that rather than a distraction, it will be a useful tool in  the classroom.

Module three: tools for the 21st century

Word Processing software is widely used and incredibly popular in both school and professional environments. It is great for students and teachers alike as it improves accuracy and appearance and is and efficient use of time. There are varied opinions on when and to what extent students should start using this software.

Research on the impact of word processing software on educTion has had varied results with unanimous positive results only in the area of improved word quantity. I thought one of the interesting parts of the research was the ide that writing and attitude towards writing only improved within the context of teaching good writing practice, an idea that could be used to help teach students about this spftware.
Some students are being taught this software from 4 or 5 years old. This is very young, and there is concern that handwriting will degrade in quality and fine motor skills will be affected. I think if children start using the software that young then it should be in partnership with handwriting, rather than a replacement. I think just like handwriting is taught with explicit instruction so should keyboard typing as this is actually quite complex and hard to master at first.
Spelling and grammar can be affected by autocorrect and spell check so it might be an idea to use programs in conjunction with word processing to target and focus on correct spelling.
The idea of using word processing software during an exam to write long form essays is quite foreign to me as I never got r opportunity and would have loved it, I remember all too well the cramped wrists after a three hour exam. I think this is a good idea as long as there are no unfair disadvantages with students that aren’t as familiar with this software.

Module two technology and learning

Although my age puts me squarely in the gen y bracket, I find I do not completely relate to the description of a digital native detailed in Marc Prensky’s article. I do not always learn in a non-linear way, nor have a short attention span, and do not need to engage with gamification pr multimedia in order to absorb and process information. I am however familiar with these modes of literacy and do find them useful and beneficial, but not to the exclusion of other more traditional methods such as reading a textbook.

I would like to think that rather than this combative relationship between digital natives and immigrants as described in Prensky’s article and in the article ‘digital immigrant teachers and digital native students: what happens to teaching?’ There could be a relationship between teachers and students that is more collaborative and mutually beneficial.

I would like to think that in my classroom there would be a healthy diversity of digital natives and those that are less familiar with technology. One of the interesting ideas from the ‘What happens to teaching?’ article is the idea of the divide between digital natives and immigrants not so much being a technological divide, but a divide in priorities, with people from older generations, regardless of their background, being less focused on technology than the younger generations. No matter the diversity of the student cohort in my class, they are all roughly the same age and from the generation. It would be useful to build on this interest in technology and use that enthusiasm to motivate students with technology as a method to engage in learning.

Module Two A 21st century classroom

According to the P21 website, in order for student to fully learn 21st century skills,  they need to have additional life skills such as flexibility and adaptability, and initiative and direction. There also are interdisciplinary skill sets that must be acquired such as global awareness and health and environmental skills. There is also a necessity for students to be media, i.t. and information literate. They need to understand how to use the tools and technology to access information.

 The videos that depicted the implementation of technology into the classroom
demonstrate schools attempts to meet these needs. The YouTube clip bridging our futures shows the potential for high levels of collaboration between students, teachers and experts in their fields, as well as incorporating different technologies to help creating, designing and building a project.
In the YouTube clip Singapores 21st Century teaching practices the classroom is flipped and students are fully engaged members of the teaching and learning process. The students are purveyors of knowledge, not just passive participants, as they text in questions, and use interactive environments such as second life to create and view artworks.
The Silicon Valley school is a contrasting educational environment with a strict no computer policy. The focus here is on creativity and imagination, and direct interaction with each other is encouraged. Technology is viewed at this schools as a hindrance rather than a help, being viewed as a distraction. 75% of parents work in I.T so there is a real possibility that there is a socio-cultural influence with parents being over-saturated in technology and wanting their children to have a more technology free childhood.
All three schools are basically striving for the same thing, collaboration, learning and understanding. However they are using different methods and have different interpretations of a 21st century skill set. It is up to the curriculum, school and individual teachers to assess and decide to what extent technology will have a role to play in the 21st century classroom.

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