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Technology & Education

Technology
&
Education
INTRODUCTION TO EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

Instructor: Dr. Constance J. Wyzard

Learner: Farnoush H. Davis

September 14, 2009

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Technology & Education

Abstract

Computers have changed the way we teach and the way we learn. This paper will

look at the changes that technology has brought to the education field, both as a tool to

educate, and as a subject by itself. It attempts to isolate the broad concept of technology

in order to demonstrate the deficiencies and efficiencies of this recent phenomenon in the

education field. This synthesis paper will discuss (a) the impact of technology on

teaching and learning, (b) the use and integration of technology in today’s classroom, and

(c) the benefits of technology in the education system. This paper will present the

author’s thoughts as well as the notion of what a “classroom” is, and how that idea is

changing and continues to change.

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Introduction

One hundred years ago all classrooms around world had basically the same

structure and frame of teaching. A strict teacher with a wooden stick stood in front of the

classroom, the students kept quiet except to recite things they had to memorize. Anyone

who spoke out of turn or misbehaved would get a whack with the ruler or tree limb. In

many poor countries, this method of education is still in existence. But even the most

remote parts of the world are entering a new age with the rest of us. Technology is

transforming the way we learn, and by transforming the process, it is also transforming

the outcome. This paper will examine the use of technology as a tool for education,

showing the positive changes that it has brought, as well as the challenges that still keep

us from fully using these new advances.

Eventually, teachers began to realize that teaching itself was something that

needed to be studied. As a science, methods could be developed and the process could be

improved. The first change was the teacher/student relationship. By making learning a

fun process, and by making the teacher a facilitator and not a master, students became

excited about their studies. But the changes in the delivery of education did not stop

there. Through the years, cognitive psychologists and scientists realized people learn in

different ways. Some people are visual, some learn better by hearing, some memorize,

some associate, some are slow, and some are fast. Therefore, technology changed the

one-way teaching into a multi-faceted approach. As a result, the teacher-centered

classrooms began to change to the friendly student oriented classrooms.

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Advancements in technology brought more changes to the classroom. There was a

time in the history of education when overhead projectors, copy machines, VCRs, and

slides were the highest technology. Television and other media aids allowed teachers to

improve the ways of presenting information. Since the 1970s when computer technology

was introduced to the education system (Fouts, 2000, page i) using technology in the

classrooms has significantly changed. Sometimes new terms of technology in the field of

education are confusing. One of these terms is Technology Education. This term is often

confused with the term Educational Technology (Wikipedia). With computers came the

internet, and opened a new window to the instruction world, because now not only is it

important how to present information, but to use new ways to access information. Every

aspect of the education process, from research to writing, has been changed, and

continues to present new opportunities and new challenges.

These advances have brought about many questions that need to be answered.

Why should technology be used as a teaching/learning tool? What is the effectiveness of

technology for teaching and learning? What are the benefits of technology in the

classrooms? If the teachers of one hundred years ago could visit today’s classrooms they

would find nothing familiar about the way students are taught now. While our education

system is still challenged with appropriate integration of technology into curriculum and

training teachers to use technology in their classrooms, individual teaching programs

based on student’s pace of learning increased the productivity of the classrooms. With

today’s technology we can create ways specifically for each individual to help them

learn. Every subject can be designed particularly for a certain learning style. In addition,

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the individual designed programs helped to educate more successful students and also

lead them to the right path of their capability.

Since technology has become an important part of education, the enhancement of

teachers in presenting the information and the progress of students have been apparent.

Improving to higher academic standards for higher level thinking, problem solving skills,

and being ready for “real life applications” is something that schools aim to accomplish

(Fouts, 2000, page 10). Adapting technology as a tool transforms the traditional

environment to a 3-D virtual, animated world. However, this adaption should be

meaningful in purpose of best learning productivity. As Keengwe states: “It cannot be

assumed that once educational technology tools are available, teachers will integrate them

into their daily classroom instruction” (Keengwe, Onchwari, & Wachira, 2008, page 79).

The use of technology is not enough. The teachers must go beyond and integrate the

technology tools in the curriculum and the structure of the education.

Another advantage to using technology in the classroom is that it decreases

learning time. According to studies included in the Computers in the Classroom Report,

the time it took to learn a subject by using computers was reduced by 39% in one study

and 88% in another (Stratham, 1996, page 35). The Department of Education reports that

it will give $10 billion dollars through the stimulus plan to add to the funds for Title 1,

which is supposed to help at-risk students (U.S. Department of Education, 2009).

According to the US Census Bureau, the total number of high school students in 2003

was about 17 million. For this amount of money, the government could buy a new laptop

computer for every high school student in America. This would not only help students

(even the at risk ones) to have more opportunity to use modern technology in their

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school, but it probably would have been a better stimulus! With the world’s economic

crisis and state governments cutting down their budgets a lot, including cuts for schools,

today’s technology could redesign the way we teach students to make it more efficient as

well as more cost effective.

Using computers in the classroom effectively requires a process that covers

several areas. In the Statham and Torell study, they made an acronym to show the key

areas that need to be addressed: AEIOU, or access, equity, integration, outcomes and

uptime (Statham, 1996). These five areas cover how students have access and if their

time is fair compared to other students, how well computers are used in the classrooms, if

students are using the computers to learn more effectively or if the teachers do not focus

on them as a center of their teaching methods. Finally it looks at how long a computer

tool is useful before it needs to be upgraded. By organizing things in such a way, all

aspects of computer assisted teaching become clearer and easier to manage.

According to Keengwe (2008, page 80) one of the largest problems is the gap

between the students knowledge of technology and the knowledge of their teachers.

Teachers today are almost required to be technological experts, as they have to present

material to students who have grown up in the digital age. Most teachers grew up with

traditional education styles and tools, but are now expected to not only be masters of their

subject areas, but masters of today’s technology as well. Students are much more

technologically advanced than most of their instructors. Educational technology now

must be structured and designed to be user friendly and simple to use so that the subjects

don’t get lost in the complexity of the delivery tools.

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Today, computer technologies are a tool but in the future they will be the entire

process. We send emails, we scan and attach a document, we print out our assignment,

we search by search engines, but there will be a time that this computer in whatever form

it takes will not be just a tool. By virtual classrooms or programmed software, from any

corner of the world you will simply log in, read your sources, answer the questions, and

receive your electronic assignment. You will not have to leave your house, and will not

have to travel or drive miles to attend your physical class. This is a new way of looking

at education. In fact, it is a change in what we think a “classroom” is. Technology may

someday eliminate the need to build schools, saving millions of dollars from those

expenses as well as transportation costs, text books, school lunches and more. If a student

can learn everything from a computer in their home, they can move at their own pace,

and focus on the things that are hard for them. They will not be left behind as fast

students move on, and they will not be in classes that just pass them through with the

other students.

Unfortunately, nowadays the focus is how to apply and use technological devices

and applications. For instance, being an expert in designing web pages, mobile devices,

or communicating software will not result an effective education environment. The future

of education will be a thoroughly new aspect of technology use. Now, the education

system is adapting and blending the technology applications as a part of the knowledge

delivery. But in tomorrow’s educational system, teaching and learning will be part of the

technology resources. This presents the new meaning of the “classroom” concept.

According to the abovementioned notion on using technology and education, the

fact is that we already can see that in the future technology will not be just a tool, it will

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be the way we are educated. Our idea of what a classroom is cannot be limited, just as our

idea of what a computer is has changed dramatically in the last ten years. For instance,

we interact with our instructor and peers on Moodle, send an assignment by email or post

it on Blackboard. I can be a chef just by knowing how to use Google.com. These changes

and conversions are the revolutions of what we know as traditional classrooms. From

virtual classrooms, programmed software, distance learning, and on-line courses, the

need to “go to school” will become a thing of the past just as the teacher with the wooden

stick has become a thing of the past.

If using technology in education is the path to the future, what do we need to do

as educators and teachers to make sure we are using the best methods and the most

current ideas? What are the keys to making the use of technology successful? While

technology seems to change overnight, using it in the classrooms takes much more time.

Not only are students usually much more experienced with using technology as I

previously mentioned, but teachers have a hard time keeping up with all of the new

methods and changes. It seems that the teacher is the weak link in using educational

technology. As it mentioned in the Fouts article from a study by the National Center for

Educational Statistics in 1999, most teachers do not feel comfortable or prepared to use

technology in their classrooms (Fouts, 2000, pg. 15). As people look for ways to make

new tools for education and try to find new ways to present information to students, we

need to also find ways to teach the teachers. Just as students need to learn both processes

of learning subjects and learning the tools used in class such as on-line learning, teachers

also have to learn both skills. They need to know their subject matter, and they need to

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know how to use the technology that will allow students to learn in the more effective

ways.

To make sure that all teachers are prepared to use these new tools will require the

schools to set high standards and require their teachers to have additional training in

technology. In the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001, the government tried to get

schools to have more “highly qualified teachers.” But those qualifications were based on

the old way of teaching, and didn’t include training in educational technology. So now,

schools are still hurt by trying to meet the standards the government sets, when they

really need to set their own standards based on what students and teachers need.

Even if technology gives us new and better ways to teach students, and even if the

resources are there for teachers to become educated in the latest technologies, they have

to want to make the changes. Teachers need to believe that using computers and other

technology is better than the other traditional methods that they have used before. They

also need to be willing to integrate these things into their classes and teaching methods

(Keengwe, 88). There has been a change in the way that we understand learning, and a

change in the way that we teach. Now there needs to be another change in the attitudes

that we have about computers and education. Many people still think that on line learning

is not as good as going to a traditional class. It will only be when people think of these

things differently that the new technologies will be used in the best way.

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Conclusion

The past twenty years of technology evolution had an impact on all aspects of

human life, including the education system. The integration of technologies into the

classroom has increased the instructor’s options in presenting as well as the learner’s

outcomes. Right now, we use a long list of technological tools, such as computers, Smart

boards, Blackboard, Moodle, and databases, but we already know that tomorrow there

will be more transformation. However, adapting to this will not be an easy and quick

task.

Unfortunately, despite all the changes that technology has brought to the

education system, the structure and the curriculum are built on the Nineteenth Century

model which is not adequate for the Twentieth-First Century (Fouts, 2000, page 1).

Along with the rapid pace of technology development and the speed of learning by

today’s learners, instructor training should compete in this race.

There are many new opportunities that technology gives to the education process.

But with each benefit comes another challenge. Just like any other new technology, it is

only as good as it can be applied to real situations. If the tools are there but no one knows

how to use them, they are not good tools. We must find a way to make sure that every

new step we take is taken by everyone, the students, the teachers, and the administrators

who set the goals. There have been many studies about the best ways for students to learn

new materials. New research can find out the best ways for teachers to learn new

computer skills. Since not every teacher in the future will have an educational technology

degree, they will have to find different ways to get the skills they need. Other studies

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might find out what the schools themselves can do to make technology the center of their

teaching process. Once everyone is focused on moving toward the same goals, then real

changes can happen. Until then, technology will be limited by the limitations that we give

to it. As in every other field where we see incredible change like communications and

business applications, education can be changed into something better and different. The

technology is there, we just have to find the best ways to use it.

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References

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Title 1, Part A Funds for Grants to Local
Education Agencies. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from United States Department of
Education: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/title-i.html

Culp, K. M., Honey, M., & Mandinach, E. (2003, October). A Retrospective on Twenty Years of
Education Technology Policy. American institutes for research.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). (2001). No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html

Fouts, J. (2000). Research on Computers and education: Past, Present and Future. Seattle, WA.

Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The Use of Computer Tools to Support
Meaningful Learning. 16 (1), 77-92.

School Enrollment Surpasses 1970 baby-Boom Crest,. Retrieved August 12, 2009, from United
States Census Buraeu: http://www.census.gov/Press-
release/www/releases/archives/education/005157.html

Stratham, D. S., & Torell, C. R. (1996). Computers in the Classroom: The Impact of Technology
on Student Learning. Boise, ID: Army Research Institute.

Technology Education. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Technology_education&oldid=308606003

United States Census Buraeu - School Enrollment Surpasses 1970 Baby-Boom Crest, Census
Bureau Reports retrieved August 12, 2009 Available at: http://www.census.gov/Press-
release/www/releases/archives/education/005157.html

United States Department of Education, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Title
1, Part A Funds for Grants to Local Education Agencies, retrieved August 12, 2009
Available at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/title-i.html

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Outline

I. Introduction: history of education

II. Body

a. History of advent of technology in education

i. Benefits of technology for learners and teachers

b. Design for students

c. Decrease learning time

III. Challenges

a. Students know more than teachers

b. Educating teachers

IV. Conclusion – Change in mindsets

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