Monday, March 25, 2013

Does Technology Foster and Enhance Learning?

Does technology foster and enhance learning? This question seems to be on a lot of educators and administrators' minds these days. It is time to lock down a budget for the following school year... "What should we spend our money on and is technology really worth it?" There are many reasons that the answer is yes, technology is worth the investment. Technology can enhance a child's education tremendously. It does, however, still come down to pedagogy. Just because technology is in a classroom, does not mean that students will excel. However, with the right classroom atmosphere, students will learn at a faster rate than they could have given the situation, a forward thinking teacher with technology vs. the same teacher without the technology.

Third grade students at one of the schools that I work at were struggling with the concept of Cause and Effect. Mrs. Richardson, the classroom teacher, asked me if we could work on that concept during our technology time together. We came up with a plan of having students create an Educreation on their iPads covering Cause and Effect with real life situations and the last slide on the Educreation the students would create a Cause and Effect example from a classroom novel they are reading. OK, a simple activity that could be done with paper and pencil, right? Maybe, but because students could pull pictures from the web, rather than drawing examples, students were able to come up with great visuals quickly and easily. For those that like to draw, students could choose to draw their examples. Learning and applying their understanding of Cause and Effect with technology excited the children, first bonus... Then, when you add the magic of Apple TV, tada... students started sharing their ideas with each other, quickly and easily! Those students that may have been stuck and had no idea what to do or didn't completely understand Cause and Effect, were learning from peers. Before we knew it, the students that were struggling, were sharing their own examples. What could have simply been a substitution activity turned into a full fledged collaboration project of learning and understanding of the concept, Cause and Effect.

Interestingly enough, collaboration can be increased because of technology. Most people would think that personal devices would cause the opposite to occur. But, again, with the right classroom atmosphere students can collaborate on a level that is not possible without technology. Other ways to increase collaboration in classrooms through technology: Google Apps, sites like Edmodo and Schoology, blogging, skyping, and many other free web tools and apps.

A few Cause and Effect Educreation examples from last Friday's lesson: