When active boards were put in every classroom of my middle school at the beginning of the 7th grade, my peers and I felt a combination of curiosity and excitement. These foreign objects were the center of attention in the majority of our classes for the first few weeks; they were fun to draw on and there were so many different things we could do on them.
However, as the year wore on, we started to get annoyed with the active boards; the teachers were annoyed because of the technological glitches that brought the momentum of a class to a screeching halt, and, from the students perspective, watching bland educational movies became boring, especially when we knew that our quirky, bold English teacher could teach us the same concepts in a more memorable way.
Whether or not we thought about it at the time, this marked the dawn of technology used in the classroom, and the idea of education through technology.
Since then, the use of technology in education has rapidly increased and is present in a variety of different contexts. We all see the advertisements for online schools and degrees on the television, watch videos on YouTube to reinforce concepts we are learning in a particular class, or use quizlet (online flashcards) to study for the next big test. And while the ACT and SAT tests have remained a paper-based test, their older cousins, the GRE, GMAT and MCAT are solely online tests and two of these are “computer adaptive’ meaning, the order of questions supplied is a direction response to whether the test taker got the question correct or wrong.
Some forms of technology have a more positive influence on learning in comparison to others. The key to using technology as an educational tool is to use it to enhance learning, as opposed to be the principal means by which we learn.
If you have ever taken an online course, you know that the screen of the computer becomes tiring to look at and much of the information read is forgotten. So no matter how many bells and whistles the platform has, don’t be surprised if your learning reaches it’s threshold when using online programs. In addition, the process of studying online for some can be bland particularly when it lacks interactive engagement. This happens because a course is designed to allow the student to achieve a certain end, instead of providing the student with an interesting and inspiring educational experiences along the journey of learning.
Remembering that education is a process, and not always a requirement to fulfill, is necessary to keep in mind during this technological age. Human interaction is beneficial to students; students are able to remember information more easily because of contextual memory, generally enjoy learning more, and having an education that fits his or her own personal needs and interests. This being said, many forms of technology can help us with studying for tests and building on specific information learned in class. Freerice.com is an example of a website that helps students with memorizing vocabulary.
Technology can be beneficial to education, however, only in moderation. In order to have a truly rewarding experience, a social learning environment is crucial. And ultimately it’s up to you to find out your threshold, as well as technology’s efficacy on your learning.
Amanda Fisher, TPNY Writer