During the course of the semester in our Educational Psychology class, we have talked about many things that I found very interesting and useful to know. I would have to say that the most interesting thing that I have learned is how useful technology can be in the classroom. If the technology is used the right way, and can fit with the unit at hand, it can be a very useful tool for inviting student collaboration, incorporating games to keep student interest, all the while preparing students for a technology based future.
Collaboration is a very important aspect in school. Student teamwork is very important as learning how to be a part of a team is a skill set they will most likely be a skill set that they will need to know to be successful in their career. Group projects push children to cooperate, improve their social and interpersonal skills, and help them to better understand the material at hand through discussion while being able to reciprocate the material with peers; which can build confidence. Students must communicate effectively, work together, and demonstrate self-discipline while working collaboratively with follow students. This, in turn, can increase their learning and make the most of their educational experience. As Megan Cicconi points out in her article “Vygotsky Meets Technology” in the Early Childhood Education Journal, she says “Collaboration is a powerful tool that aids in deliberate decisions and forms effective strategies. It is so powerful that Vygotsky’s theory of learning necessitates social activity”(pg 57)
Years ago, that whole last paragraph I just wrote would without a doubt seem like it were only referring to students meeting face to face to accomplish it all. But with today’s technology, we are able to connect student’s with computer programs and apps in a way that was once never thought possible. Students can group collaborate on projects while using programs like Google Docs; being able to add their idea’s and research to a group project from the comfort of their home. The “Flipgrid” app uses video to create and post questions. If students have the same teacher, but are in different classes, they can still contact each other while asking and answering questions with each other after class time is long over. With the Evernote app, students can create electronic notebooks and manage the information they learn in class, as well as keep track of sources they find online. Project work can be done, and students also have access to group work. The following video shows a newer(more expensive) piece of technology for the classroom called a “Smart” screen which enables students to engage it with their smartphones and by physically touching it!
There are even classrooms collaborating and connecting with other classrooms on the other side of the world! As NMC/CoSN mentions in their” Horizon Report:2016 K-12″, “students and teachers in New Zealand and Singapore are using platforms such as WhatsApp to establish an online partnership to bring forth a greater understanding and perspective of the importance of each culture to one another”(pg 12). That is so cool! And it makes me wonder of where else our future with technology will bring us! The following video talks about how some different technology such as ipods are used at North Elementary, and also shows how 2 classes from different states get to see their pen pals through skyping them. It looks like they had a blast!
Technology is also used in the classroom to keep students engaged in the learning that is at hand, and a good way to accomplish this is to incorporate the material in a game using technology! In class we played the game “Kahoot!” a couple of different times after a lesson was taught. Thinking back, I remember being excited because it had fun music, and there was a competition aspect to it to see who could answer the questions right the quickest. And it made the actual lesson more effective because I knew I had to pay really close attention if I wanted to do good during the game. The short video following this paragraph shows a 9th grader who is intently watching to see if he answered a question right on the “Kahoot!” app. You can visibly see how engaged every student is, especially the boy who the camera focuses on. And that’s just it; that’s the kind of engagement technology in the classroom is capable of.
Technology in class also helps prepare students for the future. Nowadays, you can do just about everything online while on a computer, smartphone, or iPad; so it is very important that children learn how to use these devices eventually. We live in a very connected world with today’s technology, and student’s may have to stay up to date with it in order to be successful. Many students that we will teach will eventually go to college, and here at Whitewater we use a lot of technology. I know from our Educational Psychology class we accomplished many things with online technology. D2L itself is in ways a backbone to keeping many classes organized. Another way we used technology to communicate our thoughts with each other all semester long was our blog posts, what you’re reading right now! Blogging can also potentially help future employers get to know someone better through their thoughts online, and could possibly give them an advantage in getting a job. We also used Google Docs in this class while collaborating with each other for the Module 6 online activity! All of these different ways of communication will eventually need to be learned by our students in the future to be successful in certain high school and college classes.
Not everything is completely fine and dandy with solely relying on technology in the classroom though. I believe that too much communication via technology and not enough face to face collaboration can eventually affect how students engage with others; while not having adequate social skills within a group. It can be less personal, so you can’t see a smile or here a laugh which can be part of the experience in a group. Also, there can be a problem when one person isn’t pulling their weight online for the group. In his article “Seven Problems on Online Group Learning” Tim Roberts calls this problem “the Free Rider Effect”, and goes on to explain, “The free-rider effect is probably the most commonly cited disadvantage of group work; that is, when one or more students in the group does little or no work, thereby contributing almost nothing to the well being of the group, and consequently decreasing the group’s ability to perform to their potential”(pg 261). We have all had one of these people in our groups in the past, and I think it’s even easier to not contribute online it someone doesn’t want to. Also, another problem that can arise, as we discussed in class, the digital divide that can occur with some students not being able to afford certain technology. This can be avoided if teachers take the time to have back-up plans if this is the case(which it most likely will be). A good example of this was when Professor Weber allowed us to do an extra credit opportunity with our smartphones using the “Goosechase” app but she also had a backup plan for those who may not have a smartphone- and sure enough, some people didn’t.
Even though technology in the classroom will have certain flaws, for the most part it is becoming very useful in education, and is helping with student collaboration, student interest, and preparing students for their future with today’s society becoming so technology related. Thank you for reading!
Roberts, T. S., & McInnerney, J. M. (2007). Seven Problems of Online Group Learning (and Their Solutions). Educational Technology & Society, 10 (4), 257-268.
Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Cicconi, M.(2013). Vygotsky Meets Technology: A Reinvention of Collaboration in the Early Childhood Mathematics Classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(1), 57-65.