technology,education,learning,rote learning,iPad,computers

Source: The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation

By Guest Author ReflexAV

Much of education has been linear and text-based – read it and memorize it, write it down on the test. Educators have long known that there are many students who simply don’t learn well in this fashion. As computer technology expands, “computers in the classroom” have expanded too. While we used to simply teach computer skills, we now use computers as a valuable teaching tool. Computers have changed the way that teachers teach, from the way we can demonstrate a concept to the way we track students progress. Technology has amazing potential for bettering education; here are a few ways its already working:

Simulations and Models – Stick a vibrating tuning fork in a cup of water, and students can immediately grasp the concept of a sound wave. Other concepts can be more difficult to demonstrate – things like evolution, the behavior of molecules, or black holes. Through the use of computer simulations, teachers are able to much more easily demonstrate processes that are can’t be done in the classroom. Evolution takes millions of years, but you can show it on the computer in minutes. Other programs are used to help students understand ideas like energy efficiency or the interaction of electrons with matter.

Multimedia – Everyone loves YouTube, right? Teachers are using the video phenomenon to help students learn. Students can be given a simple assignment or topic and access to technology; then, they’re responsible for researching and creating a product that shows what they’ve learned. Students are more motivated to learn when they are excited about creating a video they know other people will see. Besides learning the subject matter, they develop important computer and teamwork skills. Multimedia is more than passive learning; it engages students in a different way making learning easier and more fun.

E-books – Some schools no longer allow students to have lockers, meaning they must carry all their books around in backpacks. But the days of lugging heavy backpacks around may soon be at an end! Some states and school districts are taking a serious look into the feasibility of using electronic textbooks. And the idea goes far beyond a mere PDF of the textbook – imagine having a variety of computer demonstrations and simulations included with your science book? A video of a Shakespearean play with your British literature text? Or maybe you’d like to have vocal demonstrations along with your Spanish workbook? All work could be done with the help of a stylus and turned in to the teacher via email (no more “The dog ate my homework”). The possibilities are truly endless and can only lead to improved learning. And carrying an iPad instead of six heavy textbooks can only lead to improved posture!

Epistemic Games – As we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the same ability to grasp concepts through rote learning. With epistemic games, students learn by being immersed into computer simulations like city planning or engineering where they have the opportunity to learn by performing. Imagine, for example, a more high-tech “Farmville” that teaches students the need for water management and crop rotation. Game developers, The Epistemic Games Group, have several games that show just how effective this method of learning is for students. It can also be used to introduce students to more mature themes; for example, one game has students playing the role of negotiator, arguing the consequences of a real-life controversial medical procedure. Epistemic games teach values and problem solving skills by making kids exercise those very skills.

Kevin is a educational expert working for videoconferencing specialists Reflex AV. He loves the way computers and the Internet are making their way into every day life, and firmly believes that there are huge benefits to the continued integration.