Manual The Impact of Technology on Relationships in Educational Settings

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Much research has been done on this question, but the answer is far from certain. Most research on educational technology has consisted of media comparison studies. After assigning comparable students to control groups or to experimental groups, the researcher presents the experimental group of students with instruction that employs the new media, while the control group experiences the same content without the new media.

The researcher then compares the achievement of the two groups. After reviewing hundreds of such studies, educational technologist Richard Clark concluded that "there are no learning benefits to be gained from employing any specific medium to deliver instruction," and that "media do not influence learning under any conditions," but are "mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition" , p.

According to Clark, any positive results that were gained by experimental groups over the control groups were easily accounted for by differences in instructional strategy. Clark's findings were controversial and have been disputed by other reputable scholars. Nevertheless, Clark's opinions are useful in clarifying technology's role in instruction. Technology is neutral; there is nothing inherent about the media that assures learning. A poorly designed computer program is unlikely to advance learning and may even hinder it. This relationship between learning and technology is further complicated by disagreements over what constitutes learning.

During the first half of the twentieth century, transfer-of-learning theories were popular among classroom teachers. According to these theories, the principal task of the teacher was to transfer the teacher's knowledge and textbook content to the students' minds and, through periodic examinations, determine if the transfer occurred. The task of instructional media was to assist in that transfer process by means of accurate and compelling presentations of content. During the second half of the century, educators embraced other theories of learning.

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At least two of these theories have influenced the development of instructional media for schools. One of these theories is behaviorism; the other is constructivism. Although the intellectual roots of behaviorism can be traced to the beginning of the twentieth century, behaviorism did not have much impact on education until the s. Drawing upon B. Skinner's concepts, educators promoting behaviorism emphasized the importance of providing clear statements of what learners should be able to do following instruction.

These educators also sought to break complex units of knowledge and skills into smaller and simpler units, sequencing them in ways that would lead to mastering the more complex skills and content. Frequently, their goal was also to individualize instruction as much as possible.

The Impact of Technology on Relationships in Educational Settings

Thus, the focus of instruction shifted from presentation of content knowledge before a group of students to a focus on the behavior of individual learners, an analysis of the steps needed to ensure learning, and the reinforcement of desirable behavior when it occurred. The interest in behaviorism occurred about the same time that the first computer-assisted programs CAI were being developed. It is not surprising that the first CAI programs were essentially computer applications of printed, programmed learning books.

Computers appeared to offer a good solution. Students could be assigned to a computer to work at their own pace, and the computer would keep track of students' work and provide a record of each student's progress for the teacher. Such programs evolved into what were later called individualized learning systems ILS. ILS software and hardware were installed in school computer laboratories; they provided drill and practice exercises that were judged valuable, especially for students with learning difficulties. The behavioral movement also had an impact on the educational technology profession.

The belief that it was possible to design instruction so that all students could learn led to an interest in the design of learning materials and in a systems approach to instruction. During the last half of the twentieth century, cognitive theories of learning gained ascendancy over behaviorism among psychologists, and some of the views of cognitive psychologists, represented by the term constructivism, began to influence education.

Constructivists argued that learners must construct their own understanding of whatever is being taught. According to this perspective, the teacher's task is not primarily one of promoting knowledge transfer, nor is it one of ensuring that students perform consistently according to a predetermined description of knowledge and skills.

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The teacher's role is to create an environment in which students are able to arrive at their own interpretations of knowledge while becoming ever more skillful in directing their own learning. Many constructivists were initially critical of the use of computers in schools because they equated the use of computers with behaviorist theories of learning. Other constructivists recognized the computer as a potential ally and designed programs that took advantage of constructivist beliefs.

The result has been computer-based programs that promote higher-level thinking and encourage collaborative learning. Whatever learning theory a teacher may embrace, many technologies exist in schools to enhance instruction and to support student learning. While teachers vary greatly in their use of these technologies, teachers select media they believe will promote their instructional goals.

Following are a few examples of computers being used to support four goals: building student capacity for research, making student inquiry more realistic, enabling students to present information in appealing forms, and offering students access to learning resources within and beyond the school.

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Student research. Students once relied upon local and school libraries and their printed reference materials to research topics. Now, however, computer technologies provide access to digital versions of these references—and to libraries worldwide. Encyclopedias on CD-ROMs provide information, digital images, video, and audio, and also provide links to websites where students access tools such as live web cameras and global positioning satellites. Dictionaries and thesauruses are built into word processors.

Through the Internet students can gain access to a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, including government documents, photographs, and diaries. Student inquiry. Educational reformers believe education needs to be real and authentic for students. Technology can engage students in real-world activities. In the sciences, electronic probes allow science students to collect precise weather or chemical reaction data and digitally trace trends and answer hypotheses.

Graphing calculators, spreadsheets, and graphing software provide mathematics students with the ability to visualize difficult mathematical concepts. In the social sciences, electronic communication tools e. Internet conferencing, e-mail, electronic discussion groups allow students to communicate with their peers from many parts of the world. In the language arts, students use handheld computers and wireless networks to create joint writing exercises and read electronic books that allow them to explore related topics.

Concept-mapping software provides all students with the opportunity to build the framework for a story or report and to map out linkages among complex characters, such as those in a play by Shakespeare. In the arts, students can explore images of original artwork through the Internet; with appropriate software they can create original digital artwork or musical compositions. Physical education students can use electronic probes to learn about the relationship between the impact of physical movement and physiological changes.

Authentic student inquiry extends beyond data collection. It also implies the opportunity for students to investigate questions or issues that concern them. Communications technology allows students to contact experts such as scientists, book authors, and political leaders. Electronic communication tools support interactions and increase the probability of prompt responses. Students who want to learn more about a current event, such as an experiment on an international space station, scientific endeavors in the Antarctic, an international meeting of environmentalists, or a musher during the Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska, can use the Internet to investigate the topic, participate in a virtual field trip to the event, and watch the event as it unfolds through a web camera.

In this manner, instructional technology assists students who wish to investigate their own questions and concerns.

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Constructing new knowledge. James Pellegrino and Janice Altman believe the penultimate use of technology occurs when students use technology to move from being knowledge consumers to being knowledge producers. Results of original student inquiry usually take the form of printed reports or oral presentations. With advanced technologies, students can present their original data or newly interpreted data by integrating digital video, audio, and text into word-processed documents, multimedia presentations, videos, or web-based documents.

Local, state, national, and international media fairs provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the new knowledge representations that students are capable of creating when given the opportunity. Media fairs showcase photographs, original digital images, overheads, videos, and interactive multimedia projects from students of all ages. In the past, award-winning projects have included a video created by fourth graders that demonstrates their feelings regarding acceptance, diversity, and compassion; an interactive, multimedia presentation by second graders about the water cycle; and an interactive multimedia project by a high school student depicting the history of war experienced by one family.

Each of these projects illustrates student-generated knowledge that could have been demonstrated through a traditional paper or research report. However, the instructional technology tools provided students with a way to express their knowledge in a more interesting manner. Access to learning resources. Some schools lack the resources to provide all of the courses that students may need or want.

Advanced placement and foreign language courses can be particularly expensive for a school system to offer when there is not a high level of student demand. A variety of technologies e. Instructional technologies can also serve the instructional needs of students who may be unable to attend classes in the school building. Students who are homebound, home schooled, or who may be forced to drop out of school can take advantage of course-work offered over the Internet.

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Virtual high schools, online college credit courses, and for-profit companies all make courses available to students through the Internet. Through an online program, students can obtain their high school diplomas or GED without attending a particular school. Instructional technologies also provide some students important access to traditional classroom instruction. Students who have physical or learning disabilities can use a variety of assistive technologies in order to be an active member of a mainstreamed class.

Braille writers and screen readers allow students with sight limitations to use a computer for work and communication. Various switches allow students with limited mobility to use a computer to speak for them and complete assignments. Switches, similar to a computer mouse, manipulate the computer through a touch pad, by head or eye movement, or even by breath. It has. Authors have indicated that this can be done directly: for example, in classrooms with mobile technologies to improve learning as well as with the use of online games to change behaviours and attitudes.

It can also occur indirectly: through the training of adults teachers and parents or children. We have read how young people are interpreting their online worlds, how. Finally, we have seen how evidence-based interventions can contribute to positive relationship outcomes, in the quest to curtail bullying and cyberbullying behaviors. Young people have often been referred to as digital natives Prensky, ,. It does not necessarily follow, however, that they are more capable of managing their relationships, particularly as these occur in and across educational settings.

It is important therefore to consider some key points in relation to this. Young people may well be active learners, problem solvers, highly sociable, mobile and creative, and they need to be to operate in contemporary educational and social domains where ICTs are central and ubiquitous. But what of the impact of ICTs on socio-relational and cognitive-emotional experiences from a very young age?

How has technology impacted on and changed the developing brain? What is the changing role of school and teachers in a world that is wired and where information can be accessed immediately? How ready are schools to manage the always-on relationships of their students? However, both the students and innovative teachers also remarked that the introduction of tablet devices entails a shift in learning, for which not all students are ready.