What are the uses of technology?

Critical Thinking
In Meaningful Learning With Technology, David H. Jonassen and his co-authors argue that students do not learn from teachers or from technologies. Rather, students learn from thinking–thinking about what they are doing or what they did, thinking about what they believe, thinking about what others have done and believe, thinking about the thinking processes they use–just thinking and reasoning. Thinking mediates learning.

So what kinds of thinking are fostered when learning with technologies?

If you distill cognitive psychology into a single principle, it would be to use analogies to convey and understand new ideas. That is, understanding a new idea is best accomplished by comparing and contrasting it to an idea that is already understood. In an analogy, the properties or attributes of one idea (the analogue) are mapped or transferred to another (the source or target). Single analogies are also known as synonyms or metaphors. Infobest’s love technology and as a software development company, we are all about on-time, on a budget, intelligent solutions that add value to your business.

In using technologies to represent their understanding, students consistently are required to engage in the comparison and contrast reasoning required to structurally map the attributes of one or more idea to others–that is, to draw an analogy.

Using technologies as tools to learn with entails learners representing what they know–that is, teaching the computer. To do so, learners must express what they know. Using different tools requires learners to express what they know in different ways. Technologies can be used to help learners express themselves in writing. Learners can express themselves using a variety of tools, such as databases, spreadsheets, and expert systems, each tool requiring different forms of expression.

Technologies can support verbal and visual expressions as well. Contrast these varieties of expressions to those required by state-mandated tests, where students’ only form of expressions is the selection of answer a, b, c, or d.

Experiences result in the most meaningful and resistant memories. We can recall with clarity experiences that we have had many years before. The primary medium for expressing experiences is the story. Stories are the oldest and most natural form of sense making. Cultures have maintained their existence through different types of stories, including myths, fairy tales, and histories. Humans appear to have an innate ability and predisposition to organise and represent their experiences in the form of stories. Learning with technologies engages stories in a couple ways.

First, the experiences that students have while using technologies to represent their understanding are meaningful and memorable. Second, students may seek out stories and use technologies to convey them.

Problem Solving
Using technologies to express and convey learner knowledge all entail different kinds of problem solving. Learning with technologies requires that students make myriad decisions while constructing their representations. Deciding what information to include and exclude, how to structure the information, and what form it should take are all complex decision-making processes.

Students also engage in a lot of design problem solving while constructing their interpretations. They also must solve rule-using problems in how to use software. When learners are solving problems, they are thinking deeply and are engaged in meaningful learning. What they learn while doing so will be so much better understood and remembered than continuously preparing to answer multiple-choice test questions.

Mobile Learning
True mobile learning has been around for close to a decade, right around the time when the first smartphone and tablet (Apple) were introduced and opened up a new world of possibilities for training and education. Enough time has gone by where today’s youth are exposed to mobile devices from the day that they are born, and as such they are very much accustomed to using it for both learning and entertainment.

Adapting to the needs of 21st century learners, countries like Turkey aim to supply all of their students with 10 million tablets by the end of 2015. Thailand’s government is planning to supply 13 million mobile devices to students within the same time-frame. Tablets aren’t the only piece of technology driving mobile learning, though. In one survey, 73% of teachers said that they and their students use smartphones for educational purposes.

With tools like MOOCs, e-learning tools, blogs and wikis, and social media, supporting students’ informal learning (as well as formal learning) can be a key to helping them become lifelong learners.

Access to Education
The United Nations estimates 58 million children from ages 6 to 11 don’t attend school, a number that has remained stubbornly stagnant since the middle of the last decade. One nonprofit believes it has the solution: Create software so exciting to use that kids will want to teach themselves.

X-Prize is challenging entrepreneurs to develop open-source software that children can use to acquire basic literacy and arithmetic skills on their own.

“It’s based on the supposition, still unproven, that kids can teach themselves how to read and write,” says Matt Keller, director of the Global Learning X-Prize.

The five best submissions will receive $1-million each to test their software in 100 villages in an English-speaking part of sub-Saharan Africa. The best of those five will receive a $10-million prize so long as the software improves learning.

“My guess is the team that wins is going to be the team that develops something so sticky, so dynamic, so engaging that kids are enthralled by it,” says Mr. Keller. “They’re going to learn in spite of themselves.”

Deeper Learning
“The most powerful uses are where people are producing,” says Karen Cator, president and CEO of Digital Promise and former head of the Office of Technology at the US Department of Education, in a recent Mind/Shift interview. “They’re answering questions that they are intimately involved with.” She gave an example of one social studies assignment to create a narrative for the Mississippi river. Students started at the headwaters in Bemidji, Minnesota and told stories of the people and places all the way down the river’s banks to the Gulf of Mexico. They used publishing tools to create multimedia presentations: “It’s something you couldn’t do very well without technology,” Cator said.

Continuous Feedback
There are countless studies that illustrate the benefit of using technology-based continuous feedback methods to improve student engagement. At Utah State University, for example, researchers conducted a study to examine the use of frequent, anonymous student course surveys as a tool in supporting continuous quality improvement (CQI) principles in online instruction.

The study used a qualitative, multiple-case design involving four separate online courses. Findings suggested that instructors used student feedback to make course changes that alleviated technical difficulties, added and clarified content, and contributed to future course changes. Students and instructors responded positively to the opportunity to give and receive anonymous feedback and felt that it helped improve the course.

The study also found that students like to be asked to help improve their learning experience, as long as the instructor listens and responds to their feedback.