January 2010

Is Educational Technology Good For You?

I am very fortunate to be teaching an online course on educational technology use in Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET) fields. The main reason I am so intrigued by this course (in addition to the topic itself)  is that I have a very interesting group of students involved who not only have extensive teaching experience, but who are also capable of deep introspection into their own teaching and reasons behind different instructional practices and different educational choices.

One of the course assignments is to watch video clips of science teachers using different technologies, and teachers and students talking about this technologeis. So we analyze the videos and have very interesting observations and discussions. I actually think that having an online Discussion Board is much better than having an in-class discussion where only a few people have a chance to speak up. Via the Discussion Board we can read each other’s  posts and everybody has a chance to express themselves. So as I was reading today’s posts, I came across this quote by one of the students and I think it summarizes my thinking of the effectiveness of educational technology:

“The underlying issue for me is, technology by itself does not improve student learning. It requires sound pedagogy foundation.”

And I think this point is often missing in educational debates. People talk about the effectiveness of clickers, of computers, of graphing calculators, Smart Boards,… as if all those tools can be effective or ineffective on their own right. I think the debate should shift to the discussion of effectiveness of different technology-based pedagogies… and the way we can train teachers to be creative and effective users of these technologies. This is what I would like to pursue as my research field…

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