Light Offerings

Learning Technologies in Schools through an educational research lens

Posted by jturner56 on October 26, 2012

As we approach Evidence month in looking at the effectiveness of our use of learning technologies it is convenient to consider what educational research has to offer to our perspective.

Two publications I recently came across, Educational Technology Research that makes a difference, and Improving student engagement, I think, offer interesting insights.

What they say is that

  1. “technology changes so quickly that it is difficult to build a body of findings over time”, leading to a lack of an “organised and persuasive body of evidence on technology’s benefits to classroom practice”
  2. In addition to the importance of respectful relationships and interactions, classroom practices that utilise inquiry-based, problem-based and exploratory approaches, and relevancy to real-life scenarios, multimedia and technology can assist learning to move beyond the classroom’s four walls.
  3. Further to this, constructivist pedagogies will be more fruitful that didactic approaches, even if “uncomfortable for some educators.”
  4. Finally, new literacy and skill demands require consideration of digital information literacy being infused into core content and processes.

I would add just a couple of riders from personal observation and reading

  • the change from industrial education, built on teachers passing on their specialist knowledge to their students, to a digital age where some student digital expertise will be more adept than their teacher’s, and with information/knowledge a click away in many cases, thus requiring more flattened approaches to classroom learning.
  • this in turn requires more connected and collaborative approaches, in line with workplace changes
  • and finally digital technologies can facilitate more personalised learning opportunities to cater for the diversity unrecognised in industrial models
  • which ultimately means a greater importance on social learning

In a nutshell then, as we consider learning technologies at our disposal, we need to be driven by our student learning intentions, seeking new ways to make this happen, support shortfalls in whatever ways are at our disposal, and be clear and honest in what we seek to achieve, where we are on our journey, and what our next steps will be (and why).

This needs to be considered across three levels, student learning, teacher teaching and school direction. This has always been so, with willpower the overriding determinant.

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