How can the integration of technology support how students learn and impact student achievement?
My attempt to answer this question is based in the linked digest entry. There are many factors that influence student learning and achievement, but technology integration into education offers many benefits. It provides many more options to extend learning beyond the traditional classroom, and technology makes learning more interactive and purposeful.
This digest article identifies four characteristics of learning: Occurs in context, is active, is social, and is reflective (Driscoll, 2002). These four characteristics were all part of my immersion experience while I learned a second language as an adult and developed a foundation for communicating in Spanish. My confidence grew as I discovered that I could understand people and people could understand me. This was a powerful transformation; I went from a potential participant in the language to an active participant. So what does this have to do with technology integration in education? The correlation of this experience is about how technology devices can be used for increasing confidence and communication in education. In other words, students who might otherwise be reluctant to participate in a classroom setting might feel more comfortable receiving and responding to content through technology devices. Students and teachers can engage in content and concepts in ways that were not easily accessible in the past. These tools create more opportunities for all learners to grapple with the content by reducing social pressures in many students. If they are successfully able to interact with the technology and the content, this will transform the student’s confidence in his or her own education and professional goals. In the same way that I became an active Spanish communicator, students become more active in their own education.
The reflective component of learning is a key part of this transformation because students have a greater sense of purpose when responding to the content. Technology platforms allow student responses to go to a broader audience and the audience can interact with the learner. Typically this increases quality of the work; instead of being “good-enough” for the teacher, students feel the need to show their best work to the potential audience. Furthermore, knowing that feedback is likely, students are able to reflect on the impact of their contribution to the content and even look for ways to improve or increase understanding. This model, to make learning communities online, can lead to a powerful transformation in learners as they offer collaborative reflection on the content (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). Technology tools allow responses to be shared, and when used responsibly, there is transforming power in the students’ work and understanding, especially when they are affirmed by the teachers, their peers, or in some cases, professionals.
The digest text begins and ends with a reference to transformative learning, which can be both a cause or an effect. The cause focuses on how to transform instruction from older models of education to models that encourage the use of technology tools or media rich instruction. The effect is a desired transformation in the student, making them independent learners, problem solvers and reflective participants. This transformation takes longer in some learners, but the goal is to make them aware of their own power to participate in their education.
Driscoll, Marcy P. (2002) How people learn (and what technology might have to do with it). ERIC Digest.
Palloff, Rena M. & Pratt, Keith (2007). Building online learning communities. San Francisco: Wiley & Sons. (page 185)