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Effectiveness of Technology in Education

I received an email today from my friend, THE Journal, asking me to read, among others things, “The Great Debate: Effectiveness of Technology in Education” That’s the kind of article that I don’t really read, but just jump to the end to see what the conclusion is. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t come to any definitive conclusions, so I had to go back and actually read it. It did suggest that we need technology in education like we need food, so my job will probably still be needed for a while yet.

I took away from the article a list of six questions that should be asked before adopting any “new media” and I considered them with regard to Web 2.0 tools.

  1. Would the application of new media assess students’ prior knowledge and either provide the instructor with relevant information about students’ knowledge and skill level or provide help to students in acquiring the necessary prerequisite knowledge and skills if their prior knowledge is weak?
  2. Would the use of new media enhance students’ organization of information given that organization determines retrieval and flexible use?
  3. Would the use of new media actively engage students in purposeful practice that promotes deeper learning so that students focus on underlying principles, theories, models, and processes, and not the superficial features of problems?
  4. Would the application of new media provide frequent, timely, and constructive feedback, given that learning requires accurate information on one’s misconceptions, misunderstandings, and weaknesses?
  5. Would the application of new media help learners develop the proficiency they need to acquire the skills of selective monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting their learning strategies? Some call these metacognitive skills.
  6. Would the use of new media adjust to students’ individual differences given that students are increasingly diverse in their educational backgrounds and preferred methods of learning?

Let me translate and see if I can suggest some tools that fit the bill…

  1. Would the tool help teachers figure out what students already know or help them gain the necessary prerequisite knowledge to move forward?
    Potential web tools: Mindmeister, Bubbl.us, Zoho Challenge,
  2. Would the tool help students stay organized and find their information?
    Potential web tools: Google Notebook, del.icio.us, Ta-da List, Remember the Milk
  3. Would the tool allow students to collaborate in real-world activities, not just busywork?
    Potential web tools: Vyew, PBwiki (or any wiki tool), Zoho Meeting,
  4. Would the tool give quick feedback to students?
    Potential web tools: Twitter, Ning, WordPress (or any blogging tool)
  5. Would the tool allow students to develop the skills to adjust their learning to their own needs?
    Potential web tools: Hmmm….
  6. Would the tool allow for flexibility in how different students learn?
    Potential web tools: TeacherTube, YouTube, Animoto, Sketchcast

I suspect that some of those would be appropriate for more than one…and that there are many great tools that I haven’t included. (Any suggestions?)

Do the new web-based tools fit? Is it appropriate that educators include these “new media” into instruction? Yep.


One Response

  1. Very interesting blog you have there. I am part of a team that has developed a new tool called comapping.com. Our primary focus is actually education and we have done a number of test with students from college to primary school students with our software. We are currently running a study with a large high school here in Denmark and the result so far has been very promising.

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