There are two main directions that people go when viewing technology in education: they can either view it as an "additional tool" or as an "innovative teaching and learning process". The question addressed is this: exactly what can new technology change in education -- and how does this affect the student?
Agapova and Ushakov explain that using technology as an "additional tool" refers to the use of technology to present information and resources in the same or similar manner as traditional classes. However, using technology as an "innovative teaching and learning process" refers to the use of technology in a manner that encourages learning and doing for oneself in an active way, highlighting familiarity and mastery of tools provided and also proficiency in learning new tools.
The different ways to use technology stem from the different needs of the different generations - Learning used to be about filling out a checklist of things mastered, but now learning is about shaping the student both in study and in life. A presentation of knowledge formerly included only static, sectioned content, but increasingly the intertwined nature of science, life and society forces new mediums of knowledge presentation into the limelight - mediums such as Wikipedia and a learning tool called ChemQuest.
Agapova and Ushakov participated in the creation and testing of ChemQuest, and they explain how the application brings a level of interactivity into the learning process that a traditional lecture would not possess. For instance, the student can choose how to learn "core material" by choosing from a variety of topics of interest to them. When the student engages and enjoys the context picked, learning becomes easier. Of course, not only can they pick between case studies, but also between various learning styles, allowing equal opportunity for success. The interaction of the student brings focus to active, independent and somewhat informal learning.
Assessment in the "innovative process" should contain similarly informal, continuous tests and checks mixed with new ideas in a manner designed to teach the student how to work from real life data, rather than data in a textbook. However, it must still include formalized, "traditional" tests and checks for learning, as these are designed to train the student for later school. Some combination of both is best, as the more tools are given, the more opportunities are provided to learn.
The three most important improvements of the "innovative" program, ChemQuest, over the statistics of the "traditional" program are well-documented in various field tests from schools scattered across America. These results we may now take for granted, but our strengths can always be made stronger. The change of role of teachers - from lecturer to facilitator to collaborator - leads to a trust and pride in learning; the change in how the learning program adapts to students allows for many more students to be successful than before; and the high sustained interest levels throughout the school year leads to noticeably higher grades and greater learning retention.
However, the authors warn, these changes are truly dramatic only if the "traditional process" of teaching and learning is completely scrapped, and all involved are set free from it's restrictions.
A learning system like ChemQuest is amazing to me. A program that allows you to follow the path of the way that you learn best, that allows you to interact and create rather than simply react and consume - this seems to me to be some kind of dream course.
By reading this article, I was able to learn a little bit more about what I would look for in an online course. With the tools we have now, quite a bit is possible - from live presentations held using Elluminate, to "in-person interactions" in a virtual reality using LindenLab's SecondLife or the Open Source Grid. I don't think I would be satisfied with a class that didn't experiment with some exciting technology.
About This Blog
"...In the spring of 2009, the FPU Online Advisory Committee recommended and proposed to the members of Faculty Session that a center dedicated to providing support and resources for online education and technology enhanced instruction be established at Fresno Pacific University. Members of Faculty Session approved the proposal, pending the identification of external funding resources. In the fall of 2009, FPU was blessed to be able to establish a partnership agreement with the AIMS Education Foundation that provided the needed resources to begin the implementation of such a center. With final approval from the FPU Board of Trustees and the FPU President and Provost, the Center for Online Learning was created in October 2009..."
The COL Corner is one of the places to keep updated with all of the things that the Center for Online Learning at Fresno Pacific University is doing, as well as a place to learn more about Online Learning in general. We are interested in how the power of having the internet at your fingertips changes the way you learn and get involved with your classes and fellow students, and hope to present resources and information that help you in a way you can easily access - but doesn't make you feel stupid.
- ► 2011 (30)
- ▼ 2010 (15)