Article - How Technology Changes Education

Hello, and welcome to the Center for Online Learning article review, written (and thus "facilitated") by Oriana Neulinger. This time, we'll be discussing the article called "How Technology Changes Education", written by Olga I. Agapova and Alex S. Ushakov, published in the Technos: Quarterly for Education and Technology, Spring 1999. I chose this article because this division in thinking of "technology and education" seems to be where most FPU teachers and professors are at. Even though it was written 11 years ago, it still strikes at the heart of people developing online courses and preparing supplemental material for lecture-based courses. The original article, which can be found for free at How Technology Changes Education, has several specific references and suggestions for the interested online professor.


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.

Fun Fact of the Week

Did you know that your computer, your iPad, and even your smartphone can tell another person quite a bit about where you are? In fact, Google's geolocation software is so accurate that it can often determine what side of campus we're accessing Google Maps from, using the school network. Most internet-based geolocation software uses internet protocol (IP) addresses which are assigned by your internet service provider (ISP) and can be easily read and analyzed by server-side software. This is legal, and in fact encouraged by banks and law enforcement, as in the first case it helps to prevent fraud, and in the second case it helps to track down criminals. Organizations providing location-based content often utilize this software to return the most helpful content to the user, such as Google's Maps Search function, which returns the "closest" options.

Read more about Geolocation Software on Wikipedia!
Learn about Geolocation by visiting these sites:
Geolocation 101: How It Works, the Apps, and Your Privacy - PCWorld
Geolocation by IP Address | Linux Journal
Geolocation on Wikipedia