Technology and Trends in Education

Posted on October 18, 2012

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Technology and Trends in Education Assignment
Vanessa Crawford
Vancouver Community College

My intention in taking this course was to advocate for the use of cell phones in the classroom. They are ubiquitous, relatively inexpensive and, let’s face it, the students are using them anyway. Instead of having them ‘hide’ their phones behind their textbooks and pencil cases, why not redirect their focus back to the classroom and change these devices from a source if distraction to a source of engagement?

 

One article I found called, Older Adults and E-Learning: Opportunities and Barriers (Githens, R. P. 2007) focused on the integration of older adults into the technological age and their motivations for continuing education. Because our life spans are increasing, the need to supplement our incomes has been imposed to maintain the lifestyles to which we are accustomed. According to the article, 80% of baby boomers intend to remain in the work force after retirement, whether it is full-time, part-time, or in temporary positions.

One common misconception was that older adults were more likely to be resistant to learning about new technologies, but in fact research shows just the opposite; company loyalty is often a great motivator for adults of the older generation and thus inspires personal development. The three main reasons for continuing education in e-learning were for personal growth, social change, and workplace development. (Githens, R. P. 2007)

There are some barriers that impede the older adult’s growth which include negative stereotypes, the lack of adult training programs, and computer unfamiliarity. Negative stereotyping was found to actually decrease memory and personal confidence, which the lack of training programs and technical skills decreased overall access to courses. Despite these hurdles, online classes were often favoured as they provided a sense of privacy for the adult learner to explore in their own space. (Githens, R. P. 2007)

The transformations happening within our society and our acceptance of continuing education throughout adulthood will no doubt continue to expand in the future.

 

The second article I found was The Only Thing We Have to Fear is 120 Characters (Thomas, K. & McGee, C. 2012) and it presented a staggering statistic; 69% of American classrooms have banned the use of cell phones. In my opinion, the motivation behind any form of censorship is fear.  Teachers are afraid that students will use their phones to cheat, plagiarize, and cyber-bully.  Another concern was that students would forget proper English and replace it with “textese”; a term applied to the abbreviated slang of texting.  A study done by Coventry University actually found that the opposite was true and that any exposure to writing had a positive impact on literacy.

The article then compared cell phones to mini-computers and stated that restricting access to cell phones denies students to inexpensive computing. (Thomas, K & McGee, C. 2012) Teachers could embrace texting as a means of instant notification for changes to assignment due dates or exam reminders, for example. Podcasts are video or audio files that can be streamed at the students’ convenience to access course content. Unlike traditional lectures, students control the pace of delivery and have the ability to pause, rewind, and replay the content.

Instead of fearing the potential abuse that comes along with cell phone use, teachers should be embracing the opportunity to make those digital connections in the classroom.

 

A hot topic in most of today’s academic institutions is the pressure to incorporate interactive web 2.0 tools into our lessons. No longer is the modern student content with teachers putting chalk to board; the tech-savvy learner wants that added layer of digital connectivity so we, as educators, are forced to heed this trend.

One site I found was blackboard.com and specifically, their program called “Collaborate”. It is essentially an online classroom where the instructor can be seen through streaming video or audio and upload PowerPoint Presentations, share URL’s, and post documents. Students participate by ‘joining the room’ and are able to ask questions through a chat section, or ‘raise their hand’ which flags the instructor to respond to them. Moderators can check for learning by creating polls, asking students to draw pictures on a virtual whiteboard, or even upload their own pictures or presentations. There really is no difference between a classroom and a Collaborate session; if anything, this program increases opportunities for interactive learning.

 

References:

Githens, R. P. (2007). OLDER ADULTS AND E-LEARNING: Opportunities and Barriers. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 8(4), 329-338.

Thomas, K., & McGee, C. (2012). The Only Thing We Have to Fear is… 120 Characters. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 56(1), 19-33. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0550-4

Collaborate Blackboard Learning (n.d.) Retrieved September 22, 2012 from http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Collaborate/Overview.aspx

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