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EET330 ASSESSMENT 3 - New Technologies in Schools: What, Why and Who Says?
By Sasha Koomen, Student Number: 600159571
Part 1 - Critical Discussion - Stakeholders and their interests
As ICT technology continues to develop at an astonishing rate, we are seeing more and more technology in the world around us; in hospitals, banks, shopping centres and ultimately our future workplace: the classroom (NCREL, 2005). The huge drive towards the greater use of technology in education is aimed at modernizing schools and supplying the students of today with skills that will make them able to use this technology in the workplace once they leave school (Higgins, 2003). Additionally, there is an aim to reduce teacher work-load by making planning and resources available over the internet and to reduce administration by providing and exchanging information in electronic form (Higgins, 2003). But the ultimate goal in promoting the use of ICT in school has been to increase the effectiveness of teaching and improve students’ learning. This section will put forward arguments for and against technology to support teaching and learning, the stakeholders who argue this, and issues I predict technology will have at a high school level .
What are the key arguments put forward for using new technologies to support school teaching and learning?
Research indicates that ICT can make a big difference to students’ learning in schools (Higgins, 2003). In a variety of large studies they have found a positive link between the provision or use of ICT resources and pupil attainment. However, pupil attainment is only achievable where the use of ICT is planned, structured and integrated effectively (Higgins, 2003).
Studies and surveys have also been anonymously submitted by students about the benefits of technology in the classroom both for teachers and students that have suggested the same thing. Johnston (2001) argues that there is no doubt that technology makes learning easier and more fun, and that technology is a great benefit to education. Technology integration, like other effective teaching techniques, actively engages students in the learning process. Learning should be interactive and involve communication, problem solving and development of new knowledge and products. When students are involved in the learning and participate in it by creating new information, they are more likely to view that experience as easy and fun (Johnston, 2001).
Bennet (1999) argues by having computer assisted programs in the classroom, computers can serve as a tutor. According to Bennet (1999) teachers can only aid students in the learning process so far, but computers can assist teachers and act as a tutor for the students who are falling behind and do not have the time to repeat lessons over and over again. As it is essential to give all students in the classroom the opportunity to learn the lessons properly, if we have computers assisting our students, this can be done. Kulik (1994) summarized that students, particularly students in at-risk groups, such as in special education and from inner city or rural schools, felt more successful in school and more motivated to learn when using curriculum-computer-assisted instruction.
Technology can also be a crucial tool to improve student learning by utilizing the Web to individualize instruction, creating learning opportunities for teachers to engage in collegial support via e-mail, and facilitating better home-school communication through e-mail and Website information (Simmons & Markwell, 2001).
Clearly technology enhances education and is becoming increasingly essential to learning. Evidence from large longitudal studies have shown that ICT is effective to student attainment. Student development of basic academic skills improves with the use of technology, especially for at-risk students. Access to the Internet and distance learning opportunities promote relevant learning experiences irrespective of geographic restrictions and improve student and teacher access to information, only to mention a few things. However there are also some arguments (Simmons & Markwell, 2001).
What arguments are put forward in opposition to the use of new technologies to support school teaching and learning?
Although there are so many arguments for technology in the classroom, there has also been a lot of criticism and arguments against it. For example, not many teachers like facing classes where all pupils have their backs to them, sitting at machines located around the walls ‘‘because of the wiring’’, or like taking a class when all the students are busy on their laptops. According to Watson (2001) this creates a sense of alienation, not being part of the inner circle of those who know about and can use ‘‘the machines’’, and not knowing what actually is going on each of the students screens.
Furthermore, according to Rifkin (2000) some parents are concerned about the effect that children are gaining too much of their world knowledge from a virtual, rather than the real, world. Parents are also concerned that the violent and sexual content accessible on the Internet challenges or prevents character education necessary for development of moral citizens (Rifkin, 2000).
Finally one of the main criticisms with technology in classrooms is that computers are not as cost effective as other interventions (Cuban, 2001). Critics note the obsolescence factor of computers and the ongoing costs of upgrading both hardware and software (Watson, 2001). Some critics indicate a belief that many hardware and software companies purposely design products to become quickly outdated and thus require updates that educators must buy. It is their belief that educational technology is too much in its infancy and not yet reliable enough for use by most students (Watson, 2001).
Who (which stakeholders) put forward these arguments and what do you think is the nature of their interest?
When looking at the above stakeholders of each of these arguments we are looking at mainly at arguments by researchers, graduates, teachers and parents. As most of the arguments for technology have come from reliable research in the field on large scale studies, it is evident that these arguments have value. The nature of these researchers is to give the government and the world reliable information about technology in the classroom, to let the world know if it is working for students, so for these studies it is relevant information. Johnston (2001) is a teacher who teaches IT, so it is possible that her information from students surveys is skewed to favour her interest (promoting IT) however this is unlikely.
Stakeholders opposed to technology in the classroom include mainly parents and teachers, and they again raise relevant points. However the nature of their interest seemed more personal, for example ‘feeling alienated with all the students behind computers’, this argument is understandable, but maybe the schools need to set up computer classrooms differently, and just make sure students have their laptops closed while trying to explain topics to the class.
The big argument by Cuban (2001) that computers are not cost effective is coming from stakeholders that are writers, researchers and critics. The nature of their interest is to sell books and to let the world know the truth. Although a relevant and good argument I think the For arguments do weigh out Against arguments.
What other issues do you predict might be associated with the use of new technologies to support teaching and learning at your school level
There are many issues that will that will be associated with the use of new technologies to support teaching and learning at a high school level. To begin with, our students will be ‘digital natives’ they have been born into a world filled with gadgets and online community, and to most of them it's a way of life (Richardson, 2006).
Students now "think differently from us. They develop hypertext minds. They leap around. It's as though their cognitive structures were parallel, not sequential" (Richardson, 2006). This means that no matter how critical we are of technology, or how bad we are using it, we will need to adapt with the changing world to properly engage our students.
The issues related to this are that schools will need to properly train teachers in IT, schools need to make programs that are planned, structured, integrated and relevant otherwise all the funding and the IT equipment in schools will not necessarily make a difference (Higgins, N.D).
Part II. Imagining the future
In the last ten years, we have seen so much change in technology in schools. We have seen schools go from as little as one classroom to many classes full of computers, some schools even starting programs that every student in the school needs a laptop in most classes. The computers have become smaller, the gadgets have become better and some of the programs for learning and teaching are easy to use and ultimately engaging for students. In this section of the wiki I will describe a possible future for the role of new technologies in school education.
How do you think practices in the use of new technologies in schools will develop over the next 10 years? Why?
In 2007, labor party leader Kevin Rudd has promised a AU$1 billion fund to give every senior secondary school student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer at school (Winterford, 2007).
"I want to provide every secondary school student in Australia with the foundations to move into the digital economy of the future," he said. As politics goes, this is not yet the case three years later. Julia Gillard has stated that by 2011 every year 9 to 12 students should have a computer of their own (Franklin, 2009). Because of this I would like to predict that in the next ten years, every secondary student should have access to a computer of their own, and that all school should have a projector in computer based classrooms. I predict that there will be a real push for teachers to start teaching all subjects online, this will mean that students can catch up if they are not at school. However I do not believe that all classes will be taught online as I believe that face to face interaction is still ultimately important. Furthermore I think teachers will start using more internet based programs like Moodle, so students can more easily access tests and other work online, and teachers will need to be able to monitor students screens while at school (I have seen this done on Moodle in my teaching rounds in Drouin SC). This push for computers for every secondary child is needed because this new generation of students are digital natives and learn differently to what past generations have. For students to keep up with the changing world, these changes will need to be made.
In what ways might this be a positive development for schooling and student learning?
The new technology will be positive for students learning as the teacher's desktop should have the ability to look at each student's desktop from their desk. This can be used to help a student having difficulty, or making sure that the student is staying on task or appears to be having trouble. Likewise Moodle and other internet based schooling programs have an MSN type of CHAT system that the teacher can send a private note ( suggestion or help) to a student during a class activity without bringing attention to the struggling student. Furthermore,teachers will also have the ability to send presentations to any or all desktops, and will be able to take control of a desktop so that the teacher can coach the student. This new technology will also be very beneficial for schooling as the administration of a classroom will be improved by reducing the amount of time a teacher spend just fulfilling paperwork requirements. i.e., test taking, scoring, etc should be included in each students desktop, but would automatically be recorded and scored (like our online tests at Deakin on DSO). With a future that looks to have all high school students on computers, teachers can also become more creative and use video games to teach their students. Because today's students are diverse in their learning styles and technology experiences, video games have the potential to meet the growing needs of dthe diverse population, this could mean that some students that have serious difficulty learning can also get engaged (Annetta, 2007). Games have shown improved motivation and student engagement and improved participation and achievement, and there proves to be natural ties between video game creation and problem-based learning.
In what ways might this be a negative development for schooling and student learning?
Some negative development for schooling and students learning is the idea that students are not doing their own work anymore. This is because students are relying on the web to do the work for them, by either just copying and pasting (plagiarism) or paying a web site to write a paper for them (Watson). Furthermore, studies have also shown net-based readers (people who do the majority of their reading on-line) are less able to determine what is and is not a valid source and are less skilled in critical reading and thinking, and there is also some argument that typing everything in word documents is making students illiterate and not able to write properly. The other negative development is that it is going to be time consuming and expensive to implement these new computers and online based programs. Teachers are going to need thorough lessons and guides on how to teach integrated ICT lessons appropriately and effectively, this will be difficult for some of those teachers who remain 'digital immigrants', and are serious critics against the technological revolution.
ICT offers a wealth of opportunities to support student and teacher learning. Technology is changing rapidly and every change opens up a new possibility and new opportunity for students and teachers. There are both serious for and against arguments put forward by different stakeholders, although the good in my opinion weighing out the bad. I see the ideal future of high schools, to have every secondary student with access to their own personal computer, with online access to all classes (i.e. Moodle or DSO), this will see that students don't fall behind, and stay engaged using different types of activities like problem based video games. There is no simple and single solution to the effective use of ICT in teaching and learning, and teachers will need support to develop their new technical and pedagogical skills; curriculum needs to be flexible to accommodate technological change. If there is collaboration between all school in the country, to plan, structure and integrate ICT effectively, we will open up a world of exciting learning opportunity for our future 'digital native' students.
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