Teaching History with Digital Tools (II)

The use of technology and digital tools in education has increased in the recent years. The student experience is changing constantly as the technology influences education more and more. What students have experienced in the past and what they are experiencing now will bear little resemblance to what lies ahead.

However, it is still being debated whether use of technology in education helps or hinders learning. As use of technology in the classrooms increases rapidly, today’s education and also the way teachers and students use their classrooms is also changing. I think these changes have both positive and negative impact on learning. Technology could be used as a teaching aid, use of computers with different animation softwares to present information in an interactive manner invites greater interest from the students. Video games and education are two words that do not necessarily go well together! But can they be used as an effective teaching aid? Ed Webb in “The Academic Commons” says they have the potential, “learning is most effective when it is active, experiential, situated, problem-based and provides immediate feedback, all features that can be found in games”. He further explains his goals in assigning games alongside written material, “First, I wanted students to encounter similar subject matter presented through different media in order to prompt critical approaches to all the course material…., Secondly, I hope the game provokes affective responses through its engaging nature. Putting students in a decision-making position gives them a different stake in the processes we are studying than does reading someone’s account and analysis of those processes.” So student engagement is one of the biggest advantages of using technology in the classroom. Roy Rosenzweig in his book Clio Wired refers to use of technology in the classroom as form of “Active Learning”. According to Rosenzweig most pre-college and college teachers have a common answer when asked how they think their classroom experience can be enhanced for their students, “most commonly they say they want their students more engaged with learning, they want students to construct new and better relationship to knowledge, not just represent it on test; and they want students to acquire deeper, more lasting understanding of essential concepts.”

Another positive impact of the technology in education is the easier accessibility of information. The Internet has given education a new dimension. With distance learning and online education students no longer have to physically attend classes to be a part of one classroom. They can attend a class virtually at the comfort of their home. Numerous educational institutes are currently offering online courses, where students interact with their teachers over the internet and access learning materials from the institutions’ website.

On the other hand, technology could act as hindrance to education by being a distraction to the students. It also could be argued that technology has made cheating simpler than ever before with minimum probability of getting caught. For Instance students can easily search for solutions for any kind of homework assignment in various search engines.

So, does technology help or hinder learners? The answer to this question is, it all depends on how you use it. Handled poorly, its impact to education can be disastrous! But if handled well, it can facilitate learning. As evident in Ed Webb’s article, technology can be a powerful learning tool, it can open new doors and learning possibilities.

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