Does it encourage innovative thinking, collaboration, risk taking and problem solving?

The definition of technology I found myself connecting with was Jonassen’s (2000) idea that “[S]tudents learn from thinking in meaningful ways. Thinking is engaged by activities, which can be fostered by computers or teachers.” This definition addresses the fact that it is learning that is the outcome, not simply the use of technology in the classroom. Digital technology can and should be used, but its incorporation must enhance student learning. This is an essential part of designing a technology-enhanced learning experience; digital technology cannot be used simply because students enjoy using it, or because we feel pressured to include it within our classrooms.

Jonassen’s definition made me think of maker spaces, coding, STEM activities and other constructivist learning strategies within the classroom. Ideally, I see a technology-enhanced learning experience being one that encourages innovative thinking and collaboration between peers, motivates students to take risks and engages students in unexpected problem solving. It must also involve students in a learning process that leads to a deeper understanding of concepts presented. Kafai and Peppler (2011) state that “To be a full member in today’s participatory culture should mean much more than knowing how to play video games, for example; it should also mean knowing how to design video games” (p. 113). Students should not walk away with surface knowledge of what we teach, but of an understanding of the concept and how to connect it and apply it to their own lives.

References:

Jonassen, D. H. (2000). Computers as mindtools for schools, 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/ Prentice Hall. Retrieved from Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Jonassen+mindtools&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&btnG=Search

Kafai, Y. and Peppler, K. (2011). Youth, technology, and DIY: Developing participatory competencies in creative media production. Review of Research in Education, 35, 89-119.

3 comments

  1. Hi Mary,

    I too was drawn to Jonassen’s definition of technology and it’s implementation (or not) in the classroom. I particularly liked your last line … “Students should not walk away with surface knowledge of what we teach, but of an understanding of the concept and how to connect it and apply it to their own lives”

    I think it really addresses a concern of education and that learning is more than just memorizing concepts but it also includes the ability to understand and apply that knowledge elsewhere. Students, however, struggle with this notion as they are often more concerned about marks, often forgetting that learning throughout elementary and secondary school provides the foundation for later learning. Where do we begin instilling in students that ‘learning’ and specifically, proper, effective learning is more important than a letter grade?

    Thanks for your thoughts

  2. Hi,
    I agree with you 100%, I think that critical thinking and collaboration as key factors that we must have our students participate in. These are elements of their future workplaces that they will be using everyday.

    I think that the idea of learning starts from day one in Kindergarten, the sad thing is that you need those “letter grades” to get into a University and many students only see their value in said letter. We have to try and move away from percentages and letter grades and remind students that learning is essential and fundamental.

    Thank you for sharing,
    Haneefa

  3. Hi Darren and Haneefe,

    I agree with both of you. It is an interesting debate, though, about letter grades. I have to admit that I am a very marks-oriented person myself, because I was brought up to be. My siblings and I still joke about the day one of my sisters brought home a C+ in French in grade 7, and was then forced to bring home her French book every day to study with our parents until she got an A the next term. In British Columbia, letter grades have been removed from report cards for all elementary grades this year, and this will extend up to secondary schools in September. I was talking to a senior sciences teacher recently and this is a concern for many who are teaching secondary courses that are used for university entrance. I must admit that as a former secondary English teacher, I have difficulty getting my mind around what a grade-less report care will look like (and how it will be received) at the secondary level. A lot of the concern is around the vagueness of what reporting will look like. Even with the implementation of a new reporting system for elementary this school year, we only received our “new” report cards (which looked suspiciously like the old ones minus letter grades and the work habits section) three weeks before they were due in to administration. I would think that ultimately, this system will become easier and reporting will become clearer, but for the time being, it is certainly causing some stress for all those involved in its first year of implementation. Having said that, it has also created many positives as we are working hard to track specific types of contact with parents (was it a phone call, did we send a work sample home, etc.) and many teachers have begun to use FreshGrade (or another online reporting/blogging system) to communicate regularly with parents. Ultimately, it requires a significant shift in our ideologies around reporting which some people support completely, but others have difficulty getting their minds around the change until they see it in action.

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