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What technologies do YOU think can make the biggest difference in student learning?

by Kelly Walsh on September 21, 2011

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Please tell us about the types of instructional and education technologies that you think can make the biggest impact on education.

There is a good deal of controversy and debate still surrounding the question of whether or not technology can make a difference in the educational process. Here at EmergingEdTech, we’d like to approach this from a slightly different angle, changing the question from “Can technology make a difference in education?” to the more focused question, “Which technologies can make the biggest difference in education?”.

Image of question, which education technologies matter most

Towards that end, we are seeking input from our readers. EmergingEdTech will put together a survey to gather and organize educator’s perspectives on which of the endless array of technologies available to today’s educational institutions can really make a difference in the quality of education and the way students learn. We figured a good way to start is to first reach out and gather some initial feedback, so we can be sure to list all of the most meaningful, relevant technologies in the survey.  

This writer’s perspective is that making resources and information widely available may be what we should focus on first and foremost. This includes the use of tools like Course Management and Learning Management Systems, Lecture Capture, presentation tools, and other applications that can make learning materials available to students 24×7. These don’t have to be expensive tools (some, like Lecture Capture, can be, but there are an endless array of low cost and even free tools to organize and deliver educational content). Hand in hand with this is the need to continue the proliferation of mobile technologies to provide easy access to those resources. Students should be able to access assignments and learning content, and check on due dates and test scores and schedules at any time, from anywhere. For a bolder leap forward, educators should be striving to deliver more learning content outside of the classroom (as homework) and spending more of that valuable face-to-face classroom time reviewing and reinforcing that material. But this is just one person’s evolving perspective.

What do YOU think? Which technologies can really make a difference? Please comment and tell us what your experience and learning has taught you about this.

School districts and universities can continue to pour funds into devices and software year after year, but none of it is likely to matter much if there isn’t a clear goal and an organized plan to achieve it. It doesn’t seem that this trend is just going to dry up, so shouldn’t we be putting more effort into determining how best to allocate those funds? Please tell us what you think. Thanks!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
10 Internet Technologies Educators Should Be Informed About – 2011 Update
Education Technology Is An Enabler, Not A Magic Wand
Let’s stop misspending education technology dollars

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet | expateducator.com September 27, 2011 at 6:47 am

The technologies that make the biggest difference are the ones that meet the needs of individual students and challenge them to their next level of learning.

While that may sound vague, we must always consider the student.
-The introverted student will benefit most from the use of technologies that help them learn communication/collaboration skills (google docs and such).
-The reluctant writer benefits from seeing their work published in a professional format (a blog, storyboard, etc.).
-The reluctant reader may be happily challenge by podcasts.
-Reluctant math students have challenged classmates to online math games. Screenshots of scores are taken and sent as proof of “high score.”

It’s not about the tool as much as the way the tool impacts student learning.

Greg Limperis September 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I have found that what technology you purchase really means nothing if proper training and support is not provided. I have seen some of the most basic technology make a much larger impact on students then some of the most sophisticated expensive equipment simply because the teacher was properly trained in its usage and is given the proper support to feel comfortable in its use. Ipads, courseware, video conferencing equipment, interactive whiteboards or freeware are all only as good as the user implementing its use. TO me, I would rather invest my time and money in properly training teachers in the equipment they have. When you have well trained educators, moving on from there will have its own natural progression and the proliferation of technology use will be in the form of a technology revolution where the seamless integration of technology has resulted in educators using any and all technology in a way that brings about systemic change simply due to ease of use.

Simon jones September 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

Just started to use an iPad in the classroom and the students love them. Great for developing independent learners. Also Google docs is awesome for collaborative writing, using with my A level students to draft an essay question, we can all quite something and comment on why it’s good learning from each other as we go.

Jim Traister September 24, 2011 at 7:13 am

Love your site and subscribe…Obviously, not one technology fits all. We do love our Twitter though! Twitter provides so much value outside of the classroom for our students is the reason why I favor it so much. For example, as a result of a twitter connection one of our students is working as a Private Chef for a Celebrity Race Car driver this weekend. His dream is to be a Private Chef in the future…This connection would have never happened in a short period of time without a technology model such as Twitter. It also provides so many resources to the students depending on their interest and research.

Mike Peters September 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

Computer Mediated Collaborative Learning tools will have a huge impact on the future of education.

SJU_Man September 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Without question, tablets are going to change the way we educate our students. From note taking to textbook reading, these devices are the modern equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife. However, one of the issues that’s preventing them from truly becoming a part of the classroom environment (apart from the price, of course) is the fact that textbook publishers are refusing to get on board. As soon as these companies realize that modern students need not just e-texts, but interactive e-texts, then things will change for the better.

However, as important as technology is, it pails in comparison to the importance of having teachers being able to use the technology properly. We have to remember, there are still many hold outs out there who allow their classroom’s laptops and SMARTboards to collect dust while they use the illustrious “chalk and talk” method of teaching. I think if we can get teachers on board with using technology then things will start falling into place a little quicker.

Kieran Mathieson September 22, 2011 at 6:26 am

Online textbooks designed to support flipped courses. Outcome-oriented – what can students do at the end of the course? Deep learning – focus on using a few concepts, rather than remembering many.

The most important thing: Lots of individual feedback during the independent study phase of a flipped course.

Matt Nicholas September 21, 2011 at 8:23 am

I believe data collection tools like SMART Response or Activote are one of the most effective tools right now. Allowing teachers to receive immediate feedback on student progress is essential in creating an environment where each student learns best. Tablets, though they are still emerging as an educational tool, will change the way we present information to students. I believe an interactive, not just electronic, text book is what we need to keep our students attention in the digitally saturated environment we live. Interactive white boards are nice. However, if a student can modify a graph, manipulate a virtual science experiment, look up the street Shakespeare lived on while reading Hamlet or watch an archaeological dig in progress while waiting for their bus to be called they will be much more likely to stay interested in content. On average students only pay attention 80% of the time. Why not put a device in front of them that lets them doodle and learn at the same time while off-task.

Ren Baldwin September 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

Sound Field Reinforcement (SFR) systems have a huge impact on student acheivement. When we understand that SFR are NOT for amplification to make things louder, but simply to distribute the sound to make the vocal presence of the instructional leader (whether that be teacher or student) the same for each person in the room, no matter where the physical presence is. If the instructional leader is “sitting right next to”, as it were, each student in the room, the opportunity for students to become disengaged is greatly reduce. The higher the engagement, the higher the achievement.

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