Friday, January 11, 2013

Technology must add value

Pudú in the classroom by Lizette Greco, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Lizette Greco

Simply using technology in class does not help students learn. Using technology to simply replace books, blackboards or pencils will not make any difference either no matter how cool the technology may seem. It's not the technology that makes the difference it's the way it is used and that it is used for the right purposes.

This is demonstrated very well in a post by Kathy CassidyThe Use and Abuse of Technology in the Classroom, which makes a list of when technology makes a difference and when it does not. The article is aimed at primary school teachers but the arguments apply almost as well to university level. The main argument is to use technology to do things that are simply not possible in the traditional classroom. If something can be done just as well without computers there may not be any relevance in using one. It has to make a difference to the experience and not just act as an electronic substitute.

"I have been concerned, though, by some of the ways that I see technology being used. Technology should not just allow us to do things in a more engaging way; it should allow us to do new things that we thought were not possible. It is those new things that are the real value technology provides. It is not enough to USE technology. You must use it well."

Here are Kathy's five justifications for technology. Read the article for her explanation and examples:
  • Technology should be for accessing what was inaccessible
  • Technology should be for doing good things in better ways
  • Technology should be for sharing with the world. 
  • Technology should be for connecting
  • Technology should give choices.

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