Friday 19 June 2015

Role of Technology in Improving Education Part 2

In our previous article we looked at two of the positive ways in which technology is having an impact on education: helping with reading comprehension and language acquisition. Let’s continue this now by looking at two other ways in which technology improves education.

Technology in education and learner motivation

Many educators believe that a significant number of learners have become unmotivated by the traditional education methods, like reading of textbooks and listening to lessons and lectures. Technology gives the ability to create a much wider array of teaching and learning methods, which introduce variety and increased interest that in turn lead to heightened levels of motivation.

These methods include the use of the Internet, images and video, games, music, simulations and wikis. These can be delivered across numerous devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones.

This is a generation for whom technology use is a staple of daily life; they are completely surrounded by and immersed in it. They like technology. They spend hours a day playing video games, chatting to friends on instant chat and surfing the Internet. It follows that education that ignores technology is going to lose its audience, so to speak. And education that incorporates the technologies that learners have chosen to use in their private lives will see higher rates of motivation. It therefore stands to reason that technology will increase motivation in the classroom or lecture hall, given that learners and students constantly use technology in their private lives.

Indeed, teachers routinely report increased levels of engagement and motivation when digital media is introduced. An interesting additional element is that this levels further increase when students are given the opportunity to share their work with a variety of people across the Internet.

Research studies have reached the same conclusion. One in particular found that students using laptops displayed increased motivation and persistence in completing tasks, often voluntarily going beyond the assignment requirements. Many of them even took the laptops home to continue on the projects after school hours[1].

Technology in education and self-esteem

The same study found that the use of laptops contributed to an increased sense of empowerment and sense of pride. In general, the research strongly suggests that technology can have a positive impact on the self-esteem of students, especially those with already low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Many teachers and researchers have noted a dramatic effect of technology on levels of self-esteem. This has been particularly noticeable among learners from disadvantaged home backgrounds. This seems to indicate that technology not only helps in the classroom, but also has a wider effect on the learner’s self-esteem outside of the classroom.

Part of the reason for the self-esteem increase appears to be that technology makes the learning process easier. As we spoke about above, the current generation is very au fait with technology and becomes more motivated to complete tasks successfully when technology is incorporated. It makes good sense that the sense of achievement derived from successfully completing assignments will have a positive effect on self-esteem.

It is also the act of learning a new technology that increases self-esteem, as well as the accomplishment of technology-based tasks. This has been linked to the value that is placed on technology in our current culture, so that mastery of technology automatically leads to an increase in self-esteem[2].

However there is also broad consensus that technology in and of itself is not a cure-all. The teacher or lecturer is still a vital link in the education process. It is the combination of good teaching and technology that has the most positive effect.

Notes and references:

1. Mouza, C. (2008). Learning with laptops: Implementation and outcomes in an urban, under-privileged school. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4)

2. Effects of Technology on Classroom and Students

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