How Technology Reinforces Poor Learning – An Experiment
Reader beware, this post is an experiment!
While reading through my daily dose of ed tech blogs, I came across what I feel is not just a terribly ineffective use of technology for reinforcing real, authentic learning experiences, but one that many teachers today might think is a brilliant idea! I’ve seen it happening more and more as school districts hop on the 21st century band wagon (which isn’t that bad of a thing), and teachers try to find ways to make learning, studying, and teaching more engaging to students that are used to a always being connected.
I don’t want this post to come off as overly critical, so I’ll try to frame my thoughts in a positive manner. The amount of tools that we as educators have at our disposal today is overwhelming. Every day it seems there’s an exponential growth of texting, tweeting, social networking, and web 2.0 tools to help reinforce teaching and learning strategies (which is a good thing!). However, everyday it seems as though there’s an equally soaring growth in the number of teachers that don’t think critically about the tools they’re using with their students, and rather than focus on reinforcing effective teaching and learning strategies, they simply start using tools that are really cool, super engaging, and fit neatly into student’s digital media-filled lives. The teaching strategies that many of these tools, or at least the way they’re being used, reinforce ineffective, and superficial strategies for authentic, engaging learning.
For example, the post that I linked to in the opening paragraph showcases a new tool for students to study anytime, anywhere, using their mobile device. By utilizing StudyBoost’s service, teachers can submit a battery of review and study questions, which are then delivered to student’s devices whenever they have time to “study” in their normally hectic schedules. I put the word study in quotation marks, because the definition of this word has so many connotations. However, the specific use of StudyBoost in order to help student’s study is very superficial, rote, and follows the old skill and drill method of studying. Somehow, in this day and age, it just doesn’t seem right to perpetuate the skill and drill method of studying as an effective way to learn during a very fragmented lifestyle. Sure, skill and drill of math facts and vocabulary might still be useful if done in a manner that ensures some absorption of the material, but practicing your math skills while riding on a noisy, bumpy bus ride to the football game, or during commercial breaks seems like it wouldn’t really create a lasting mastery of the material. Is it a cool use of technology? Sure it is! Effective? I’m dubious. I would say that such a use of SMS or mobile technology could be better used by a student-led study session, where learners are submitting questions to the group and/or the teacher to be collected and addressed later during a teacher-lead study session.
Which is where my experiment comes in. Have you ever had a moment like this, where the cool factor of the technology overpowers the critical thinker in you (or one of your fellow educators), and you base your use of the technology on what’s possible, not what’s going to be most effective? Feel free to participate in my little experiment by following filling out the survey below:
Your thoughts, input, and constructive criticism will be displayed in the embedded Google spreadsheet below. I thought it would be better to have the question broken into a few different parts, and presented accordingly. That having been said, you’re always welcome to leave your comments below if you’d like.
Can’t see the embedded Google Spreadsheet? Follow this link to view it in Google Docs.
image: Broken – http://www.flickr.com/photos/55631889@N00/460343560