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One of the broad applications of technology is in the facilitation of the learning process. Learning is a dynamic process; this means that any advancement in socio-cultural and technological context can be incorporated in the learning process to make the process more efficient. Definitely, it can be argued that correct use of technology in the classroom is more efficient and interactive compared to the conventional teaching and learning approaches. The process of deploying technological tools to facilitate the student learning is basically referred to as educational technology (Carlson 56). Educational technology can be viewed from two perspectives: the student or learner environment and the teachers’ perspective. One of the primary uses deploying technology in the learning environment is to aid the communication and exploration of educational concepts. The use of technology in the learning typically entails its integration into the curriculum, so that it can be effective in aid of the learning process. This therefore implies that technology provides a channel for exploring knowledge through constructive learning; this is because it is used for accessing the required information and offers a platform for comparing different perspectives and diverse world perceptions (Allyn 85).
Ways in which current technology use enhances learning
There are diverse ways in which technology can be applied in the classroom to enhance the learning environment. It is a known fact that the effectiveness of education is dependent on the availability of information. Any technology that makes it easy to access information is imperative in enhancing the learning process. An example of that technology is the internet. If it used in the appropriate manner, it is a hub for educational information. This is evident through the online library data bases, interactive online tutorials, electronic books, commonly referred to as e-books, and online publications. It is undisputable that the internet is one the richest source of information. Harnessing this power in the classroom is vital in the enhancement of the learning process. Currently, the internet is one of the effective approaches to teaching and learning by making it easy to access educational information (Cennamo et al 89).
Another important aspect of learning is the concept of interaction. Interactive learning is vital in the classroom since it provides real time communication between the teacher or the teaching tools and the learner in the classroom. Technological advancements has made to possible to develop real-time educational interactive systems. The internet itself provides a platform for interactive learning; this is evident through interactive online educational forums and discussion groups. Online education forums and discussion groups basically enhances the learning process through providing a platform where various learners and teachers can meet and hold discussions concerning a particular topic (Tremblay 220). An example of such online forums is wisegeek.com. They are generally interactive and provide real-time feedback to the learners regarding their questions since it is an open discussion. Such online interactive groups encourage the concept of brainstorming, which is imperative in the learning environment. Through interactive learning, technologies can be used to facilitate the thinking of students rather than just serving as a repository of information. This approach in the classroom is significant in providing a representation of the diverse beliefs of the learner‘s concepts and facilitates the production of organized knowledge base by learners through brain storming. It can be argued that technology provides a social medium which enhances the learning process through conversing; this is articulated by discussion (Tremblay 225).
Effective and meaningful learning involves constructive thinking. There are a number of different ways through which technology can impact meaningful learning to students. In order for students to learn effectively, they should not completely rely on the computer or technology teaching tools, but they should use the available technology to represent their ideas. From such a perception, it can be argued that technology fosters constructive thinking in the learning environment. Effective learning is only achieved when the learners and the technology are somewhat intellectual partners (Tremblay 227). Through this, cognitive responsibility is established by the student during the learning process. In essence, technology functions as a tool kit through which the learner can derive his own interpretations of the vast information. A significant challenge for the learner is to evaluate the scope of the information that should support the intellectual functions with respect to the required curriculum. In other words, technology provides a platform where the learner can engage in intellectual debate with other learners in outside the classroom (Carlson 89).
Another significant way in which technology enhances learning is through the improvement of problem solving skills. Using technologies in the learning environment requires the learner to make numerous decisions through the constructions of their knowledge representations and constructive information representation. For instance, deciding which information will be included or excluded, the form of presentation and others. These scenarios are used to enhance the problem solving skills of the student since they are engaged in intricate decision making situations. The diversity of information presented by technologies builds effective interpretive skills for the student. During the process of building ones’ interpretations, students are deeply involved in the problem solving situation. When students are intensively involved in decision making contexts, due to the use of technology, they are being involved in what can be termed as meaningful learning process (Jonassen 189).
The use of technology in the learning environment promotes student motivation. Technological approach to education usually entails the use of computer based systems to administer learning. Such technological systems usually provide correct and instant feedback to learners. In addition, technology based system are usually non-judgmental; this tends to increase the learners motivation to keep on learning. Research has depicted that computer instructions are more effective during learning, since students usually take a lesser time when interpreting computer based instructions compared to the traditional teaching approach; this implies that students tend to learn a lot within a limited time in learning environments that employ the use of technology (Jonassen 152). It is also noted that students portray a positive attitude towards computer based learning modules than the traditional teaching approach. The use of information technology in the classroom is significant in aiding the learning process; in fact, it makes the learning experience unforgettable by the students. Information technology also facilitates wider participation of the students since there will be wider audience; this is evident through the online and long distance learning modules (Cennamo et al 89).
Using educational technology in the classroom enhances the expressive skills of the learner. Technologies are used as tools that are used by learners to basically represent their interpretations; which entails expressing what the learner knows. Different tools can be used by learners to express their interpretations in diverse ways. One way through which technology enhances expressive skills is through writing. Studies have revealed that word processors facilitate quality learning since it is more convenient for learners to tidy up their writing through the use word processors. Data bases and spreadsheets are also ways through which students can enhance their expressive skills. Other forms of representation that technology can enhance include verbal and visual expression. Apart from expressive skills, technology also enhances active involvement of the learner. This is achieved through a concept called differentiated instruction; which entails the widening of the individual learning instructions and enhances the development of learning plans by the student. Multimedia should be applied in learning since they are used to incorporate concepts that have been learned in various creative and constructive manners. From the teaching point of view, technology provides an easy approach to the process of monitoring learning progress and evaluation of the outcomes. When properly structured, it facilitates the monitoring and maintaining the learning process, at the same time evaluating the possibility of any modifications in the learning instructions, this is vital in enhancing the student’s learning process (Carlson 95).
Generally, the deployment of technology in the learning environment facilitates the learning process if well monitored. For technology to be beneficial in learning, it requires adequate training regarding its use to the learners and proper implementation infrastructures so that it can be integrated into the curriculum. In the learning environment, technology should not be viewed as the main goal of education; rather it should be viewed as mean through which educational goals are accomplished.
Ways to improve the effectiveness of technology to facilitate student engagement and critical thinking
Student engagement and critical thinking are important educational concepts which are accomplished effectively through educational technology at the classroom. Student engagement in the learning process is typically realized through problem based learning approach, it also entails a learning strategy that is inquisitive; inquiry-based learning. Basically, the two learning concepts contribute towards active learning, which is an accompaniment of the use of technology in the classroom context and usually involved shared responsibility between the student and the teaching tools. In such a scenario, the learning approach is typically student centered, whereby the learners are deeply involved in critical thinking goings-on with the real world and usually based on experiential studies (Carlson 152).
There are diverse ways through which the effectiveness of technology in enhancing learning can be implemented in the classroom context. This basically entails the implementation if technological concepts in the classroom. One of basic approaches is the addition of computer in the learning environment. A computer is arguably one of the most important learning and teaching assets in current education set up. Computers can be used by learners to manipulate and present information in an effective manner. Having PCs in the classroom facilitates effective learning through facilitating access to information; this comes with additional internet connectivity in the classroom. Information availability is a facilitator for constructive learning in the classroom. From the teaching perspective, teachers can use the computer to offer more captivating lessons through the use of multimedia; this can be achieved through the use of presentations via class projector. This improves the learning experience, which is a major determinant of the learning process. Having access to computers enhances the learning process through providing avenues for conducting research by students; this approach to learning promoted constructive and creative learning by the students (Jonassen 165).
Another technological concept that can be deployed in the classroom involves the use of online media. Classroom sessions can be enhanced by use of online media such as online educational video streams such as the teacher tube. Online media can also involve the use of video conferencing class sessions with other educational participants. This facilitates interactive learning by the students. Online learning is basically a new classroom learning process which can be implemented with the availability of the internet in the classroom, coupled with the use of appropriate technology such as video cameras, presentation technologies such as LCD projectors, interactive learning tools such as the whiteboard, digital cameras, and various document reading software. Online media can be used to substitute the traditional approach to learning through providing effective communication between the learners and their respective teachers through avenues such as student mails within the institutions management system and portals for online submission of assignments (Carlson 170).
Another way to cultivate meaningful learning by the students in the classroom is through podcasting. Podcasts normally provide an avenue through which individuals can publish their files on the internet, so that other people can subscribe in order to be able to receive the newly published files. In the classroom context, podcasting provides an opportunity through which teachers can contact their students via medium that can be perceived to be suitable for their learners and involves integration into their daily lives. This enhances the learning experience in the modern day classroom (Cennamo et al 100). Podcasting principally requires a classroom computer, a reliable internet connection and a microphone. When implemented appropriately, podcasting can enhance the learners’ thinking outside the classroom context. The use of podcasting in learning serves as a critical tool for enhancing students’ literacy both within and outside the context of the classroom. Skills such as listening, speaking and presentation are also enhanced. Pod casting also facilitates effective communication skills and problem solving, which are vital in facilitating the learning process of the students.
Another way to enhancing creative learning is the use of mobile devices in the classroom, this approach is basically referred to as Mobile learning (M-Learning). Mobile learning entails the students making use of mobile technologies to enhance the learning process and experience; through elimination of the limitations of learning being confined to the classroom. Mobile learning can be implemented through the use of portable technologies such as smart phones, notebooks and any other technology that fosters the mobility of the learner (Carlson 101). An important aspect of mobile learning is that it is collaborative since it involves the sharing of information; this facilitates instant feedback by the facilitators. Another added advantage of portable learning devices is it is a more effective approach to learning and enhances the learning experience.