Educating with Technology & Consistency:
Bridging the Gap between Social Interaction & Educational Approaches
Over time, society has shifted toward digital forums as the primary form of information sharing and communication. This shift toward digital communication not only includes social interaction but most other instances of information exchange as well. Education is a process that requires systematically connecting with students in order to transfer information to them and help them to develop new or improved skill-sets. Given that virtual, often online methods of sharing information are now the societal norm, pedagogical methods that coincide with this trend are likely to be most effective because they build on the existing skill set and natural communication style of modern students.
As ideal educational methods change, so too have the roles of both teacher and student. In order to accommodate the modern student and utilize new technologies, educators must constantly explore emerging theories and practices to challenge both themselves and their students. Along with these changes in roles of both educator and pupil are new and exciting benefits to each party.
Technology may be used in a variety of different ways. Outside of the classroom, students may utilize technology through the usage of a computer, iPhone or a tablet to communicate with friends, family or coworkers. Similarly, in a classroom setting, teachers have multiple options from which to choose from when determining which devices and which applications within those mediums to utilize in order to best educate their students. Depending on the subject, class size, educational stage, class pace and numerous other factors, educators must strategically consider their application of such digital technology in their classroom. By adapting and interacting multiple pedagogical models and technology, educators can facilitate and optimize learning in the modern era. When used properly, technology can offer a multitude of options for higher-level thinking, creative problem solving and meaningful learning.
Benefits for Students:
According to the 2010 National Education Technology Plan Executive Summary “Many students’ lives today are filled with technology that gives them mobile access to information and resources 24/7, enables them to create multimedia content and share it with the world, and allows them to participate in online social networks where people from all over the world share ideas, collaborate, and learn new things. Outside school, students are free to pursue their passions in their own way and at their own pace. The opportunities are limitless, borderless, and instantaneous (p. 8). Regardless of subject area, “21st-century competencies and such expertise as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven into all content area(s)” (p.9). Educators must be the facilitators that help students adapt to the modern era.
One critical component of online learning is the social component and the concept of the learning community. Dewey (1959) stated “that the educational process has two sides – one psychological and one sociological; and that neither can be subordinated to the other nor neglected without evil results following” (p. 75). A learning community can be created within the virtual world to benefit the individual’s learning process by combining web-based technology in order to distribute assignments, share learning materials, and provide a route for students to communicate with each other. Modern students use technology daily for their social interactions through such mediums as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Technology can also enhance a student’s educational experience by creating learning communities. Merging social with academic is the critical component that the educational digital revolution needs.
Benefits for Educators:
Online education is one of the fastest areas of growth in the world of education. Educational models and theory need to adapt to the new advances in technology, specifically of the Internet. Given the transition from physical classroom meeting spaces to virtual collaborative space, it is imperative that educators employ social-technological tools that promote communication such as texting, chat rooms, e-mail, and discussion areas to provide for a “Social Presence” (Desai et al, 1998). A critical aspect to social interaction in an online learning environment is providing opportunities for collaboration, such as group projects. Technology requires “a distinct interaction with learners and high technology devices” that provide “a strong interaction between the learner, learner/instructor, and the content as well as other learners” in the distance education environment (Desai et al., 1998). Educators need to develop curriculum and content “based on Social Constructivism where a culture is fostered by the collaboration of groups to construct knowledge. (Desai et al., 1998)
“What determines the success of distance teaching is the extent to which the institution and the individual instructor are able to provide the appropriate opportunity for, and quality of, dialogue between teacher and learner, as well as appropriately structured learning materials” (Moore, 1991 p. 5)
In an article by Schweizer, H., Whipp, J., & Hayslett, C., they identified the usage of Intentional learning communities as a key principle for creating successful online instruction based on social constructivist theory (145-146). Online learning communities allow for online learning technologies to meet the standards of these constructivist principles. Students participating in an online learning experience are provided access to a space where they are given “authentic tasks” or assignments to complete based on specific course material and are able to engage in “social negotiation of meaning” by communicating with other students through chat rooms or forum response as a part of an “intentional learning community” (145-146).
Math teachers, both traditional and online, have been utilizing technology for decades with calculators, now graphing calculators, computer games and software, and virtual tools according to Edutopia. By using technology students, today, can solve a calculus problem with a graphing calculator in a fraction of the time and achieve the same level of understanding. Through technology math students can spend more time focusing on the application of mathematics and less time on rote computations. Online students have the added benefit of being able to approach math, or any other subject matter, at their own personal pace. In addition, both students and teachers will often seek support through sites such as Khan Academy. Online teachers are at the forefront of linking technology and education but also must be more aware of the need for social interactions. Through the creation of intentional learning communities students in both traditional and online learning environments can reach their full potential.
Online Learning Communities Videos
Dewey, J. (1959). My pedagogic creed. Progressive Education Publishers. Retrieved from http://edu224spring2011.pbworks.com/f/Dewey+-+My+Pedagogic+Creed+%281929%29.pdf
Desai, M. S., Hart, J., & Richards, T. C. (2008). E-Learning: Paradigm Shift in Education. Education, 129(2), 327-334. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/ehost/detail?sid=a61af2d9-1f55-487e-9fd7-d287af595b85%40sessionmgr15&vid=1&hid=23&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=tfh&AN=35732425
Moore, M. G. (1991). Distance education theory. The American Journal of Distance Education, 5(3), 1-6.
Schweizer, H., Whipp, J., & Hayslett, C. (2003). Quality control in online courses: Using a social constructivist framework. Computers in the Schools, 19(3-4), 143-158. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/doi/pdf/10.1300/J025v19v03_12
Edutopia. (n.d.). 11 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/11-virtual-tools-math-classroom-monica-burns
U.S. Department of Education. (2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010