Discussion 5

Why Use Educational Technology?

How often do you incorporate technology in your curriculum design? There are various possibilities of integrating technology for educational purposes ranging from online forums, simulations and learning games. Research suggest that learning with and from technology has the potential for fostering creativity and collaboration among students, expanding communication outside of the classroom, and aiding assessment and evaluation in educational settings (Wolper-Gawron, 2012; VeraQuest, 2013). Hence, teachers can be more efficient and organized using tools like learning management systems, which help document and manage all sorts of tasks and activities in and outside of classrooms (Purcell, Heaps, Buchanan, & Friedrich, 2013).

Although the uses of technology to assist learning and teaching are unprecedented, an important question pertains to that of when and how to integrate educational technology in designing a course. Justin Reich, Executive Director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab and a research scientist in the MIT Office of Learning, offers a direction regarding where to begin if we want to implement educational technology in the classroom. Basing upon the concept of the “target of difficulty” developed by Martha Stone Wiske (2005), Reich (2015) explains that technology offers a leverage at the intersections of the curriculum that are both “important and difficult to teach” (EdX, 2015). He suggests that rather than implementing educational technology at those parts of the curriculum which are easy to teach and already working well for students, the instructors should start with the “problematic” parts of the curriculum—that are difficult to teach and challenging for students to learn.

In that sense, Reich contends, before incorporating educational technology into the course design, the instructors should identify the “target of difficulty” in their curriculum in order for technology to create meaningful results for student learning. What do you think about Reich’s suggestion? What are other aspects that should be taken into consideration when implementing educational technology in the classroom? And how do we evaluate/tell if the educational technology is working or not?

References

Purcell, K., Heaps, A., Buchanan, J., & Friedrich, L. (2013). How Teachers are Using Technology at Home and in their Classrooms. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Reich, J. (2015). Where do you start? 11.133: Implementation and Evaluation of Education Technology. EdX. Retrieved from https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:MITx+11.133x+2T2015/ on December 28, 2016.

VeraQuest. (2013). Teacher Attitudes about Digital Games in the Classroom: Prepared for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Armonk, New York: VeraQuest.

Wiske, M. S., Franz, K. R., & Breit, L. (2005). Teaching for Understanding with Technology. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wolper-Gawron, H. (2012). Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-stories-heather-wolpert-gawron on December 28, 2016