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Role of Technology in Enhancing Learning and Teaching

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3733 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Discuss the role of technology in enhancing learning and teaching by critically evaluating ICT models and the learning theories related to technology.

According to Tondeur, van Braak and Valcke, (2007), ICT plays an intricate, yet vital role in society when taken into account the social, cultural and economic role of computers and the Internet. In terms of education, computers, cellular phones and the internet is becoming an intertwined part of the classroom tools as much as the white board used in class. Teaching can be a daunting task in itself, in addition there is the ever-growing information technology integration into education which gets added onto teacher’s task lists. In the past it was a matter of doing an annual semester plan, broken into lesson plans which was followed by the book, with a book. Students were perceived to take in information and the teacher talking in a monotonous tone having students take notes and asking the occasional questions all deriving from two pieces of information, one being the teacher the other the text book. The burden of teaching was laid on the teacher, meaning that they had to do all the research, check the correctness of the information, introduce the students to this information and students role was to receive what their teacher was telling them, making sure they understand and ask if they didn’t. This very much meant that students were not actively learning, but was ‘fed’ the information they would need to prepare them for whatever the predetermined goals of the course were. Classrooms in general have changed from the black boards in the 90’s to white boards in the 2000’s which means that teachers are no longer just writing down notes for students to accumulate, but students are now actively searching, research and seeking the problems, the solutions and information to discuss for class by means of using technology. According to Khoeler and Mishra (2009), in an article written by Leinhardt and Greeno (1986) it is stated that teachers has to be flexible, evolving, dynamic and able to shift to the context within which their classrooms are evolving, which was in the past meant to look at the addition of tasks, and today those tasks includes incorporating technological tools, theories and models into the curriculum and keeping up with these trends in order to engage with students. Accordingly, the goal of this investigational writing would be to research and critically evaluate mainstream Information Communication Technology (ICT) models such as TPACK, RAT, SAMR, TIP and TIM related to teaching and critically evaluate and justify how technology serves the two different learning theories objectivism and constructivism in the learning process and provide examples by means of application of teaching ICT models and learning theories to the current workplace, which is UIC’s, ELC.

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Firstly, let’s look at what is technology and what is its role of technology education from the past into how it can be utilized to enhance education today and for the future. Throughout articles reviewed, the search would include terms such as technology roles in education, the effects of technology on education and how can technology be used effectively within education. Thus, this would hopefully give information pertaining what role technology would play within the sphere of education. According to Leidner and Javenpaa(1995), the pedagogical assumptions which underlines the strategy used in educational information technology has to be directly linked to the educational purposes in order to understand and improve the learning processes. In the book about technology, e-learning and distance learning, Bates’ (2005), argument in terms of technology in education is similar to that of Leidner and Javenpaa in terms of the view of technology. He believes that technology is not inherently a good or bad entity for teaching and is dependent on the way it is used by all parties involved in teaching. Therefore, it becomes evidently clear that the purpose of the education has to be determined before the use of technology is incorporate into the lesson. Technology encompasses a broad variety of tools that can utilized in order to improve communication. In the past the technology used in education was geared towards specific characteristics of usage, which directly linked to their function and in today’s life these elements which was considered to be educational technologies would not even be considered to be a technology, for example a pencil was known as tool or technology designed to capture what was discussed in the class and slide counters to help with counting (Koehler, Mishra and Cain, 2013). Throughout the time the aims of improving or enhancing student’s learning abilities the upgrading of technology became more computerized starting with calculators around the 1970’s to help engineering and science students calculate more efficiently as it was proven to be more accurate than the human calculation (Green and Gilbert, 1995). Hence, it can be said that technology can enhance education by minimizing human error through higher precision as is the case in calculators, dictators giving student the ability to capture lectures and information to review at a later stage and correctly noting down class notes more effectively. In the past Teachers were responsible to work out the class lesson, setting and tools used within the educational realm and the student’s responsibility was merely to show up to school and take notes. In today’s educational realm there has been a clear paradigm shift as to the shared responsibility within the learning environment. Today the use of smart phones, tablets and laptops in classrooms has its place in various forms, from capturing data, interacting with the lecturers, interacting with the fellow students in class, doing research in class and even capturing the lecture as a whole with all the notes for students to interact with at a later stage. At the United International College (UIC), the whole persons’ education model is adapted to the College, and a part of the education is to embrace open education which includes technology. During this semester a lot of programming went in to part of educational tools to be used int he English Language Centre’s curriculum. Thus, teachers are informed that there is a host of tools to incorporate into their lesson plans to aid in student’s learning journey to remember vocabulary, to review work and to do homework. Training is given to teachers to ensure that they use technology in an important part in class, but that pedagogy takes priority to ensure that learners learn the language through correct measures, but also learn the finer nuances of English correctly.To recap, there is evidence that technology can enhance teachers and students experience in education, thus, the next paragraph will review the one of the ICT Models, namely the TPACK, its challenges and advances in education through the lens of objectivist and constructivist learning theories.

Objectivist learning theory according to Duffy and Jonassen (1992) is based on the thought process that instructional erudition is based on students being active in the acquiring of a set theoretic models. This view claims that it is not important what forms of presentation is given to the learner to make them active in terms of learning, however the knowledge gained from the activity is most important. Objectivist view has been seen as important in the past as it taught the school of learning possessions, relations and the characteristics to build a seemingly correct descriptive structure in the correct order. According to Hannafin and Land, (1997) there is definitive clarity that knowledge is an external entity (thing), that can be identified, and thus ultimately disseminated to the students after teachers have accumulated and understand it. This model is used most widely for procedural and factual learning as its ultimate goal is to transfer information and knowledge to the learner. Thus, tools like technology can be seen as a hinderance in some cases as students are meant to take in the information and not get distracted by the tools. Objectivist view does not relate to technology as an ‘addition’ to the learning process as it believes that the teacher with its knowledge is sufficient to carry over the ‘knowledge’ from the textbook and research to the student. Objectivist approach is also seen as a very stationary form of learning, with assumptions such as learning processes is a reality that dependent on individuals and that that reality should be transferred to learners from individual teachers instead of machinery (Leidner and Javenpaa, 1995). Thus, creating a dependency on teachers instead of an integrated approach where students can gain information on their own and share this amongst their peers, this is a feed of information one way from the teacher to the learner. Thus, this learning theory is not supportive of technology and has been challenged by the constructivist theory, which underlines the use of collaboration, cooperation and individuals are encouraged to interact, embrace and collaborate their learning activities with objects and other individuals and groups of people (Leidner and Javenpaa, 1995). Constructivism agrees with Objectivism that there is a real world in which we live, however it differs in that we co-exist within the reality realm instead of living beside it. Constructivists approach encourages teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons as much as peer work and involving individuals into discussions instead of having the teacher feeding information to the students the students are made a part of the study process from the planning to the execution of the lesson. In this process students seek questions, answers and use the teacher as a tool, thus becoming active part in their learning process and not relying on merely the book and the teacher. With the technology being given access as just a tool to classes student has the capability to communicate with their peers all over the world, sharing thoughts, ideas and even research with other scholars. However, this being said the Constructivist approach has been criticised as teachers often lack the time to plan properly in terms of where to use the technology, thus making sure this tool is used effectively and not just placed in class which could distract students if not used effectively. Also, planning on the teacher’s spectrum should remain goal of the lesson and then slot in the use of technology to enhance the communication in class and not start with the technological tool and even the discussion as a tool which if not used effectively could pan to be useless to students in their learning process. Another learning theory that is often named and fairly new in terms of research is the connectivism theory. According to Kop and Hill (2008), connectivism can be defined as the spread of knowledge across various networks and can be stored on various platforms.

An overview of what TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge) is provides us with the knowledge that this framework was initially created to understand the construction of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) by Lee Schulman in the 1980’s. This work was then further researched with the advent of technology by the likes of researchers such as Koehler,M. J. & Mishra, P. (2008); Margerum-Leys (2001); Mishra & Koehler (2006) to understand what the implementation of knowledge with the addition of technology will bring about. This model is centered around the instructor’s technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge, however this model consists of seven components not just three which is the is seen as the main components. The three components overlap and thus that overlapping areas are usually known as specialized areas, where the teacher’s skills, knowledge and technological abilities are combined forming the technological knowledge area (TK), technological pedagogical knowledge area(TPK), the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and this all is formed within a contextual area within which the teacher is an expert. Knowledge in the context of this assignment will take on the explanation of Wilson in Engelien et al., (2009) that knowledge is a host of different ways of knowing information which could include the knowledge, skills and belief of a person. TPACK can be seen as a complex gathering of a host of teacher’s knowledge, meaning what they know, the pedagogical knowledge, which means the subject matter and the content the teacher knows, and finally the technological skills the teacher possesses. This being said the teacher is not consistently seen or recognised as an expert and could contain a host of other information above and beyond what is needed for and used in the classroom. Khoeler and Mishrah (2009) states that at the core of respectable teaching are three components namely content, pedagogy, and technology, plus the relationships among and between them. In case studies done using the TPACK model in Norway between 2007 to 2008 it was found that the teachers had different approaches to achieve the proposed project goals, based on their different experiences, pedagogy and skill sets (Engelien et al., 2009). In case study one (wiki case study) the outcomes of the different areas of TPACK resulted in teachers reporting that the technological knowledge was one of the areas where students had issues, but not the main source of the problem. The teachers experienced differences in the pedagogical knowledge sphere in terms of interactivity and openness in terms of discussions, thus not reaching a clear point of agreement in terms of what their roles would be in the constructing of the project (Engelien et al., 2009). This is often a challenge to teachers in terms of pedagogical sphere where constructivism learning theory is integrated and teachers having to move away from ‘feeding’ students information instead of being part of the learning experience instead of just giving information. Thus, one can agree with Khoeler and Mishrah (2009) that by integrating technology, pedagogy and content concurrently skilled teachers can expose students learning experience to TPACK every lesson they have. This means that students get the skills and learning ability to communicate, share their knowledge. In the second case study which took place in Khon Kaen University in Thailand, the researcher used TPACK framework with a constructivist learning paradigm to explore issues in a real-life classroom (Srisawasdi, 2012). The participants were encouraged to form open discussions, using ICT-TPACK aligned topics to address teaching and teaching tools in specific areas of concern. The outcomes similarly to the first case study was broken down into the sectors of TPACK and discussed as summarised: Technological knowledge in both case studies seemingly had the advantages of the teachers providing some form of context inline with the teaching and the technology. In both cases teachers were able to deal with technological dependability and students’ perception of the subject and how to integrate the technology into the requirements. Some challenges were provided in terms of the different views on technology how it affected students, with some teachers mentioning that technology was seen as an aid and a hinderance to students at different points. Pedagogical Knowledge was clearly driven as teachers knew what they planned and expected of the students. Their goals for the lessons indicated was clear and thus they were able to integrate the technological spectrum with their expertise and allow students to access information by open discussion and via the technology. The content was deemed to suffice and no challenges were reported with regards to the integration of what was presented. In the overlapping learning goals of the wiki case study, students met the requirements of using the technology to meet the requirements by being enabled to save the text and utilizing it at a later stage to further develop their knowledge and sharing it with others. In the second case study researchers clearly found that categories of knowledge were created and implemented through the ICT module. Looking at both these case studies and analysing how TPACK was utilized successfully, one can deduce that this learning module with the current challenges can help aid teachers as well as students in their learning experience and that more research is required in order to improve learning with this ICT module. Another challenge is that this model is often described in a Venn diagram, indicating that it is very much contextual and therefore seemingly more challenging to adapt in a host of areas, which is not the case, but could be seen as a drawback. This model is known to layer its parts knowing that as a teacher one has to make sure of how the different parts of the framework is integrated and that each part of the framework is represented in the work presented to the students through proper planning. Thus, no teacher using this model can use technology haphazardly as just a tool, as this might miss the point of knowledge and or not cover the pedagogy which is planned to be delivered, hence this model is a bit stationary in terms of its representation of each of the components of the framework. Upon looking in to more ICT modules and learning theories, next point would be to look at the SAMR and see how this ICT learning module can aid in students learning experience.

Unlike the TPACK model, SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) has four components in which technology could be present, and the SAMR model is known for being more creative, and its components is not overlapping, however technology could be presented in each step or component in the framework. TPACK model is also more teacher orientated and how the learners will learn whereas the SAMR model’s components can also be broken down into two different steps which is namely Enhancement and Transformation steps ().



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