Incase you missed it, Beth wrote up a fantastic post last week highlighting the benefits of place-based education. In turn, I thought it would be appropriate to make a similar post analyzing the impact technology has on student learning. However, it didn’t take me long to realize just how controversial this topic is. There’s compelling research on both ends of the argument and I think as educators we need to take everything into account.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, technology can serve as a helpful tool to enhance student learning. However, if technology is prompting distraction, disengagement, or social disconnectedness amongst students, then it’s counterproductive. As educators, we must question whether or not the technology we’re using is supporting meaningful learning experiences for our students. According to this online Educational Technology Textbook, the main characteristics of meaningful learning are:
- Active – learning occurs through interactions with and manipulations of the environment; not sitting passively in desks.
- Constructive – learning occurs when we reflect on our learning activities in order to assign meaning to them.
- Intentional – learning occurs when students can identify the learning goals and are aware of their progress toward achieving the goals.
- Authentic – learning occurs when context-based, complex, and relative to real-life.
- Cooperative – learning occurs through working with others and participating in a learning community.
Reflective teaching practice means asking ourselves if these characteristics apply to the technology we’re promoting. If not, then it’s time to reconsider what sensible use of technology looks like.