Has the Use of Information Technology Enhanced Teaching and Learning?
Yes…it certainly has! If computers are used to “teach” a lesson, learning is generally evident! On the contrary, some educators use computers to “reinforce” a lesson, which is fine. But true learning assists in the enhancement of a lesson with technology, where children are interactive users. The problem is that many schools, including school libraries, do not have enough computers for everyone to use – if a teacher wants to use this technology for lessons to be taught, rather than for review and reinforcement. Technology has to be used correctly to teach a lesson, however. Here is an example of a website where ‘personification’ is explained via text. (http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/personification-examples-2848.html) Using various senses allows us to learn and we will target differentiated learning, with visual cues and videos that can be seen. An example of personification is the tea cups in “Beauty and the Beast” that take on human characteristics. Years ago, a teacher could show parts of that movie to explain her objective or the whole movie. What is great now is that video clips can be shown with many examples to get a point across, or a website that will show examples of such ideas. Video clips can be used to teach a lesson or to share information which will enlighten others. Such is an example of useful video clips: (http://langwitches.org/blog/2007/12/26/top-ten-list-for-educational-video-clips/). Computers as big-screened Smart Boards are 21st Century blackboards!
That difficulty in consistently serving our country’s technology needs within the 21st Century is the fact that every school and school district is different, based on their budgets and building structures. There is no uniformity with how and where technology is used, but children learn best when school libraries are allowed to teach research skills and run workshops to teach about the mechanics of web quests, map quests and other forms of learning tools! Let’s not forget that information technology will enhance teaching and learning IF schools, for example, will consider it a top priority.
At home, there is no excuse to not learn, if one has a computer. If one can read, learning can be achieved! The secret to learning is having the desire to learn, and with the tools available, information is everywhere. If someone is a true visual learner and cannot synthesize the mechanics of changing a faucet by merely reading, he can view and see how to perform this task on the computer. So there is no excuse for not learning something when there is more than one medium to use. Having trouble learning a foreign language? Use an audio book to practice your skills, especially if you are an auditory learner! Most schools do not teach children to figure out what kind of learner they are, sad to say, and this is very important. So that a child is not bombarded with a wealth of information they do not know how to process, understanding what kind of a learner an individual is in the 21st Century is essential, as long as technology exists.
Everyone also needs to know how to sift through what is important and streamline their everyday technological tasks. While technology is supposed to make living easier, it can take up too much time if one has to check 200 emails a day. That kind of person, while perhaps detailed-oriented, needs to do some high-level thinking to figure out what will work for him. He also needs not be “on overload”, if too much information is coming at him. What will be useful for him and how can he tailor-fit that information where it is useful?
While a computer is a medium to access information, as is an iPad or an eBook, the mechanics of how they are used is what is important to his learning. A calculator can assist in adding quickly. But the skills that process understanding of how an answer is produced should not be forgotten – for we still need to be able to think for ourselves as well!