There are many ways in which technology affects teaching and learning. These technologies and the ways in which they interact with learning change constantly. The necessity for these digital tools cannot be understated. The role digital tools will play in the lives and employment positions is becoming larger daily. This necessitates educators to embrace technology. Educators that will prepare their students for life in our digital world will equip these students with the tools they need to succeed. We have seen the correlation between student academic success and GDP. Arguably, teaching students to learn in a manner that is consistent with their future needs and also a manner of which they are more receptive is better for our nation and the students themselves.
Robert Clark. in 1994, said, “[…] media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition”. I can see the appeal to Mr. Clark’s statement – especially within the context of 1994. One of his main arguments was that technology and learning are expensive. The use of technology makes the already expensive process of education even more expensive. Clark said, “[…] the utility of this knowledge is largely economic. The designer can and must choose the less expensive and most cognitively efficient way to represent and deliver instruction.” I do not agree with his statement in the modern world / context. Technology is far cheaper than it was in 1994. It is entirely cost effective in the modern context – and oft times cheaper. The role it plays in our lives is vastly different now than then. In 1994, approximately 24 million people had cellular telephones in the United States (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933563.html). Today, over 300 million people have cellular telephones with approximately 2/3 of them being smartphones (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/). As the role of technology has changed in our lives, so should in change in its role in education.
Robert Kozma, in 1994, said “If we move from “Do[es] media influence learning?” to “In what ways can we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations?” we will both advance the development of our field and contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning”. Mr Kozma is an individual that recognizes the need for technology in education. Even in the nineties, he realized we were asking the wrong question regarding technology and education. With his idea in mind, educators can go forward using technology as it best suits them and their students in each instructional need. Mr Kozma recognizes that all technology is not best for all situations, stating that technologies “possess particular characteristics that make them both more and less suitable for the accomplishment of certain kinds of learning tasks”. Mr Kozma continues to champion what he calls ICT (information and communication technology) in both the formal education setting and the informal. He is encouraging the use of technology to accomplish things from gain in rural agricultural all the way to innovations in science and mathematics (http://robertkozma.com/?q=node/1).
One way that we can clearly see the role of technology is through the digital tool of Blackboard. When I started in college, in 2001, it was rare for a teacher to use Blackboard. If they did it was only to post the syllabus and occasionally grades as well. Not many colleges had / used Blackboard. Today over 75% of Universities and approximately half of K-12 schools utilize Blackboard (http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/16/education-giant-blackboard-buys-myedu-to-help-refresh-its-brand-and-reanimate-its-user-experience/). Entire courses are taught on Blackboard. To refute Mr. Clark’s statement, Blackboard has definitely changed the way in which instruction occurs and the instruction itself. Students that have never met can collaborate in virtual chat rooms, message boards, collaborative blogs, and through messages all through the medium of Blackboard. In agreement with Mr Kozma, educators have found appropriate uses for the implementation of this technology and have not only learned how to teach with it but also how to teach well with it.
As long as educators continue to embrace technology and look towards the horizon, we can continue to equip students with the tools they need for the demands of both today and the future.
Part II is located here.