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In this paper I am answering the question of how the use of technology has impacted teaching and learning in the pre-kindergarten through grade sixteen classrooms. I have reviewed several different podcasts on the learning theories related to technology and class rooms. I also researched peer-reviewed journal articles on several learning theories to include behaviorism, constructivism, constructionism, social learning and cognitive learning. Throughout this study I was able to learn and implement several teachings from the resources. One of my findings was the extent that technology has grown in recent years. I also found that students have a wealth of resources available to them to use for their projects or just in day to day learning.
One of the reasons why I am interested in the use of technology in the classroom is the fact that the growth of technology over the last several years has been astounding. All over the world people are using the internet, creating web sites or using technology to assist them in their everyday learning. I am interested in learning all of the aspects of the five learning theories covered in this assignment. I am also excited about implementing these new theories with my students in my classroom. For this paper my focus was on how the use of technology has impacted teaching and learning in the pre-kindergarten through grade sixteen classrooms. I will focus on the five learning theories: behaviorism, social learning theories, cognitive learning theories, constructivism, and constructionism. I will also discuss the history of technology in schools and what educators can do to achieve their goal of the use of technology in their classroom.
Behaviorism is an important aspect, not only in education, but in society in general. According to Wikipedia, “behaviorism is defined as a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things which organisms do including acting, thinking and feeling can and should be regarded as behaviors” (Wikipedia, page 1). Understanding the definition of behaviorism allows you to easily relate this to your classroom as well as everyday life. You can easily assess your students’ feelings and thoughts about technology. You can have your students work collaboratively as a group to come up with advantages and disadvantages of the use of technology in the classroom. Each group can present their webs to the class and the class can have a discussion on the whole group’s feelings and thoughts of technology in the classroom. As the students are presenting their information to the class, this is their opportunity to act out their feelings and thoughts on technology.
Gathering the overall information based on the class interpretation of the advantages and disadvantages of the use of technology in the classroom is advantageous to the teacher. Evaluating this information will allow you to decide whether or not you want to use technology most of the time or part of the time for projects in the classroom. Another advantage of using technology in the class relates back to the behaviorism theory in Singer’s presentation on Cognitive Behavioral Theory on a podcast. The theory suggests that you can change thinking in order to change how you feel and behave. This concept will result in discussion and debates over technology in the classroom. Students can discuss the advantages of why using technology will help them become advanced learners. The students will also be a step ahead in their skills dealing with technology.
If more students are exposed to technology at an early age they will have fewer learning problems in later educational years. If they are familiar with technological options available to them, they will be less likely to be overwhelmed when creating projects. Rather than shy away, they will be excited about the use of technology. As the podcast by Anderson Human Nature 4 stated, “Heteronomy is where laws from the outside are created and autonomy is how self law decisions, actions and choices are made.” This basically states that people are autonomous when they choose to make choices in their lives; they choose to take action on how they feel or what they want to do. If people choose to make a decision to use technology and to become educated on how to use technology then they will have an advantage over their peers. There are a lot of different learning programs for students to use on a daily or weekly basis that will help them with their academic growth. Our main focus as educators should be to try to persuade students to change their behavior and thought about technology and make them become more comfortable with the use of technology.
Social learning theory is the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. As a teacher, I observe my students on a daily basis to see their reactions to the lessons I am teaching, or in activities we do in class. In an article found on a social learning theory website, A. Bandura stated:
The component processes underlying observational learning are: (1) Attention, including modeled events (distinctiveness, affective valence, complexity, prevalence, functional value) and observer characteristics (sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement), (2) Retention, including symbolic coding, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal), (3) Motor Reproduction, including physical capabilities, self-observation of reproduction, accuracy of feedback, and (4) Motivation, including external, vicarious and self reinforcement. (Sociallearningtheory.com.)
When the students are using technology in the classroom or at home for personal use they are engaged in step one of Bandura’s theory, attention. Students are then engaged in and representing modeled use of technology. The students are referring back to prior knowledge taught on how to use a computer and the steps it takes to use the programs, logging on and so forth. The students are also engaged in the retention process of their learning by remembering each step by step procedure to take when using the computer or a specific program they are in. Lastly, when operating computers, the students are using the motor reproduction stage. As the teacher or adult gives the child feedback on their work or process of their work they have completed, the motivation for that student to continue the use of technology will be enforced. This will inspire the student to learn more about computers and the other programs that are available to them.
The four elements that are included in the social learning theory are as follows. The first element is attachment. This is where a person is affective and builds up an emotional bond concerning their relationships with peers, family and adults. The second element is commitment. This is a social bond concerning the place, time, energy and effect a person has on society. The third element is involvement. This element is basically the time an individual spends on activities. The fourth and last element is belief. This is when a person recognizes the legitimacy of societal norms and laws (Payne and Salotti, page 553.) Everyone, whether they are a child, infant, adult or elderly person, adheres to the social learning theory. We all build on our relationships no matter who or where we are.
Smiling at the person next to you in the grocery store can create an emotional bond. As small and effortless as that gesture is, it can have a positive and lasting affect. Infants are a great example of developing emotional bonds. An excellent example of commitment is when a teacher gives his/her students an assignment to do and several of those students make the extra effort. They stay after school to do research in the school library. During discussion time in class, they are actively participating by asking questions. Involvement can come into play in many different ways that can be incorporated in class time as well as outside class time. In my experience teaching first grade, most of our assignments are done in class. We go step by step on each process, such as how to do projects, book reports, learning teams and so on. I want to see their thinking processes, how they are conducting their research. Are they using what I modeled for them? Or are they coming up with their own solutions to gather the information needed. I want to see their ways of thinking throughout the project as we are still learning and building on our reading and writing skills. Towards the end of the year when we have worked on and modeled projects the students will have a project to complete at home. I do not get to see each step by step process but I do see the end results which will give me an idea of the extent of their commitment to the assignment. The last element of social learning, belief, is also used on a day to day basis when students use authentic ideas in their projects.
The cognitive learning theory includes processes that influence learning. As children grow, they become capable of increasingly more sophisticated thought processes. People naturally organize things in their minds as they learn. New information is most easily acquired when people can associate it with things they have already learned. People control their own learning, as in technology. For some people technology is a whole new set of learning skills. Most children in today’s society have already been introduced to technology before they even step into a classroom for the first time. Most children have had experience working with computers, even if it’s just playing computer games. When children are familiar with the basic operation of computers, projects and assignments involving computers are much easier for them to handle. On the other hand some adults have had very limited exposure to computers. Some adults have never even searched the internet before. In today’s society, it’s not uncommon to see children teaching their parents or grandparents how to use the computer.
This is not such a bad thing. Children will have the satisfaction that they have knowledge in an area their mom or grandma doesn’t already have. I see this in my first grade classroom all of the time. We will go to a new web site to work on a project in my class and they then go home and share this information with mom or dad. At a later date, the parents come to me and ask “What program is this? How can I use it?” According to Samuel and Woods as stated in their article, “Knowledge construction provides a framework to develop a unified construct of instructional immediacy (1).” When I think of construction, I think of putting the pieces together to build something. Being able to put the pieces together and form new concepts is an important part of learning. With these new concepts you are more capable of fully understanding what you are working on.
Learning can be a difficult task for many people. When students start kindergarten at an early age, it poses learning problems later in life. I believe this is because they have not had the chance to develop into Piagets four stages of cognitive learning. These students who start kindergarten at age four can for the most part progress and develop in Kindergarten. But when they get to first and second grade, where they are learning the core knowledge which will help them succeed in the future, they struggle. They are not developmentally ready to move on. The children haven’t reached their cognitive developmental stages.
According to what I found on a website, Huitt and Hummel stated this about Piaget:
Assimilation is the process of using or transforming the environment so that it can be placed in preexisting cognitive structures. Accommodation is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment. Both processes are used simultaneously and alternately throughout life. Concrete operational stage (Elementary and early adolescence). In this stage (characterized by 7 types of conservation: number, length, liquid, mass, weight, area, volume), intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects. Operational thinking develops (mental actions that are reversible). Egocentric thought diminishes.
When children enter kindergarten a year early, during that first year they may develop and move on. But during the next couple of years they might struggle. It is during the concrete operational stage when children learn, model, and discover numbers. This is when a child can add and see that four plus four equals eight. They are able to model it, explain it and give you a reason why. But that student who has not yet started to develop in the concrete operational stage may not understand this concept. This obviously poses a problem because the early years build a vital foundation for all later levels of education.
Constructivism is a set of beliefs about the nature of human learning that guides constructivist learning theories and teaching methods of education. Constructivism values developmentally adjust facilitator supported learning that is initiated and directed by the learner. According to Yanyan and Zhuge:
The literature in education suggests that learners who are actively engaged in the learning process will be more likely to achieve success . Constructivist learning is an effective learning approach enabling a more active and explorative learning process.
Teachers allow their students to be active in learning by enabling them to create projects and presentations. By using technology to incorporate their presentation of their work they are more likely to be successful students. I also believe that teachers need to give students feedback on their work. I think it is a good idea to give each group or person positive, helpful feedback. I feel that if you wait until the day of the presentation, the students won’t know how you feel about their work and they won’t be confident. If you are able to give feedback daily to the students, then the students will feel more confidant when they are presenting. They will feel they have a sense of ownership of their work.
By being able to construct their own models of work for a specific topic, the students are incorporating their new knowledge with previous experiences. I frequently have my first grade students construct and present their work on new materials and concepts we learn. The main reason is to build up presentation skills, as well as having them relate their prior knowledge to their new found learning. It is amazing to see how different students interpret new information.
Constructionism is when children learn by acting out the lively role of the designer and constructor. We have all had times when we needed to explain something we know to someone else. To do this, we may have to prepare on the subject, talk with others, and draw diagrams. In this procedure, we learn our subject well because we have to think hard about it and think of the best ways to express it to others. This is the time for us to shine, because we are teaching someone else something they are not as proficient on as we are. This relates back to the beginning of my paper when I discussed how students enjoy being able to teach mom or grandma about their new technology skills they learned in school.
While learning more about constructionism, I viewed a podcast of a woman named Robin Chapman. She was giving a presentation on her dissertation on a technology program called Pearl of Wisdom. This is a program that she created and conducted a study for one year. She had students in an after school program use this program and do assignments. In Robin Chapman’s presentation she discussed how learners build projects which are a reflection of their thinking process and knowledge. I think this is a great example of how important constructionism is in education.
In regards to technology, I feel that children learn best when they use computers in a way that puts them in the active roles of a designer and a builder. In order for students to build on and develop their constructionism skills, they need to be actively engaged in technology. I feel that in today’s society, the use of technology and computers are a trend. However, I feel that in the future they might be considered a necessity. If students are exposed to computers on a daily basis or at least on a consistent basis, they will build the skills necessary to progress. Students will have a better understanding on how computers operate as well as how to use them.
If schools start to introduce students to computers in the younger grades, they won’t feel as intimidated in the upper grades when they are expected to use computers for assignments or projects. I feel that if you teach students at a younger age the basic operation of the computer, they will benefit later in life. Students also will not feel intimidated or shy about computers if they have been using them since they were in kindergarten.
At my school we do not have a computer lab. I feel this should be a very important part of any school system. Computer labs help students to build on their constructionism skills. When students are able as a class to use computers on a daily basis, or at least bi-weekly, and they are not only learning new technology skills but are able to reflect on their learning. I provide websites for my students to practice the skills we are learning in the class. Not all families have the privilege of owning a computer. This is why I feel it is very important to have consistent exposure to computers. Even the students who have computers at home would benefit. Computer labs would allow the whole class to work on a project at the same time. Students would be able to discuss any problems they have together.
In one of the assignments for this class, we were asked to choose either the Kidspiration or Inspiration. As a first grade teacher, I choose to use Kidspiration since it is geared more towards first graders. This is an amazing program for students. Let’s say I gave my students an assignment to work on, for example, the process of seed growth. The students would do their research in class using the text books we read. Then we would go to the computer lab where they would be able to use and build on their constructionism skills by using Kidspiration. This computer program is an excellent tool for students. The program will reach any type of learner because it is auditorial as well as visual. It also allows the students to use their hands when they are typing and clicking on the mouse.
Computer programs such as Kidspiration would help students to build on their constructionism skills. Technology supports the learners and gives them the opportunity to explore what they are learning in the class. Their curiosity about technology inspires students to learn at a faster pace. When students are able to build on their knowledge, they realize that learning is an active process. The students are actively constructing mental models and theories of the world around them.
Researching the history of technology in schools was very interesting. I was unaware that technology dated back to the nineteen forties. It’s amazing to see just how far we’ve come technologically in the last 60 years. Looking back at the stages of growth for television and radio gives us an idea of how technology has grown and continues to grow. Who can imagine what new inventions we will be using in the future to watching television or listen to music with.
While reading Cheek’s articles on the history of technology, I was impressed with the different stages technology went through. I remember as a student in the early eighties we used the old apple computers with the green screen and large blinking rectangle curser. Looking at my computer screen today, it seems like such a long time ago that computer screens had just two colors, dark green and light green. But in reality, it’s been just a blink of the eye compared to the time it took for other human achievements. Technology has provided us with high-tech cell phones, palm pilots, computer games, copying machines, compact disks to name a few. Technology continues to grow over the years, and it seems like there is something new and improved coming out everyday.
According the Cheek’s article, technological artifacts, complete with diagrams, graced many textbooks and school engaged students in constructing simple machines and technological devices (Cheek 1997, page 1.) When I read this portion of the article I thought about machine class and woodshop in high school. In the 1940’s they did not have the technology and resources we have today.
To the students in the early forties this was a whole new era of learning. It was an exciting time when students were able to learn in new ways.
As with anything new in the world, sometimes it will be popular for awhile until something goes wrong, causing people turn away from it, until it is fixed or something better comes along. In the late forties public schools had turned their backs on education technology and began a content rich curriculum (Cheek 1997, page 2.) I feel this turning away was a positive movement, as there were educators out there who were ready to fight to bring technology back. It did happen, starting in the sixties and going strong in the seventies. A group of teachers from Ohio formed a team and began to move industrial arts into the social cultural contexts and technological systems (Cheek 1997, page 3.) With this movement to try to incorporate technology into the schools again, the team was able to bring in the science technology and society movement (STS). This began in private schools in New York City. The main focus of this movement was to mainstream science and technology in the classrooms.
In the eighties the New York Regents boards started a system and curriculum framework (Cheeks 1997, page4.) This was a big move and a major improvement for New York public schools. This meant the schools had a user friendly system where the board of education was able to input data and pull data from the system. In the eighties, New York also had a standards based approach and created Project 2061. This project focused on what they believed high school students should value, know and be able to do across the spectrum when they graduate from high school. Cheeks also stated in his article that students who were in school at the time would be able to see this come back into perspective in the year 2061.
In 1993 benchmarks for grades kindergarten through twelfth grade were written regarding technology and the history of technology (Cheeks 1997, page 5.) Using benchmarks in your classroom allows you to see the standards and history for technology as you teach.
I found researching the history of technology to be enlightening. I discovered a lot about technology I did not know. I read about concepts that I’ve never thought of before. One of those concepts involved the question of technology replacing reading in the future. Maddux discusses this concept in the following excerpt:
Perhaps the first thing to remember is that, despite thousands of years of reading experience and more than a hundred years of scientific research, we have only the sketchiest understanding of the psychology of reading. Perhaps the most important thing we have learned is that reading is incredibly complex, and it is the complexity of reading that makes it so difficult to understand.
I don’t think I would have ever considered this question before reading this article. After all, reading is a very crucial part of living. I stress this fact to my students on a regular basis. In first grade students learn the basic skills in reading and writing. If you can not read or sound out words on your own then how would you be able to function in society as an independent person? When you go to the grocery store there are no computers to read the labels, prices and ingredients to you. This is just one of countless examples in society where reading is fundamental. Yes, technology is very important, especially for young children who are just starting to build their reading skills. There are programs available that can read for you. One can even listen to books on tape or compact disk. However, at least at this time, there is not a program or computer that can take over every task of reading that you may have on a day to day basis.
I came upon another important fact while reading the Maddux article. According to the article, reading is so old that we cannot trace it back to its earliest roots. Perhaps more amazingly, we know that humans have invented reading not once, but repeatedly, on every continent, time after time, and often totally without contact with others who invented reading for themselves (Maddux page 110.) I find this important fact to be a key factor in the argument that technology can not replace reading. I have always heard that history repeats itself. I couldn’t help but think of that while reading this article. Before reading this, I never realized how long humans have been reading and writing. This is why I feel reading is an important tool that should remain fundamental, no matter how far technology advances.
Another interesting point in Maddux’s article on technology verses reading involved the subject of literacy. “Literacy is a critical skill that shows every sign of becoming daily more critical, not despite technology, but because of it. Technology has increased the pace of modern life and accelerated the rate of change. But technology has not changed the basic fabric of human nature, and reading is an important part of that fabric.” (Maddux page 109) I interpreted this to mean that technology is very important not only in the classroom but in society as well. With the advancement of technology the medical field has wide variety of new equipment available to doctors and nurses allowing them to diagnose people’s illnesses at a much quicker rate. Hospitals now have patients’ records on computer data bases. If you find yourself in the emergency room, a doctor or nurse can pull up your history in a matter of minutes by going onto a web based medical data base. This gives medical personnel access to vital information regarding your health. It is amazing what technology allows us to achieve. Technology has also allowed law enforcement officers to become much more efficient. With the growth of technology law enforcement officers are able to take a suspect’s finger prints and run them in a data base to see if they are a convicted criminal. This allows them to process criminals much faster. The invention of Global Positioning Systems, digital cameras, camcorders, scanners, satellite phones, etc. make people’s jobs easier in virtually every career field.
In the conclusion of my paper on technology in the classroom and the learning theories, I will discuss the steps necessary to achieve the advancement of the use of technology in schools. First I would like to discuss how important I believe technology is in schools, as well as at home for personal use. There are many advantages and disadvantages as well as benefits in using computers or technology in classrooms.
As I stated earlier in the paper, technology is the new wave of growing information. While working on research papers in the past, students had to spend hours in a library researching books, journals, encyclopedias and other published material. Now students can go to libraries online and view the same information in the comfort of their homes. This is a convenience that affects all people in all career fields.
Technology has had a major impact on education. When students enter high school and college and sometimes even middle school, they are required to do research on a topic using the World Wide Web, power point presentations and word processors to type their papers. By giving students access to computers at the earliest age possible, students are able to become comfortable with their use. They know how to navigate the wealth of information available to them and not be intimidated by it. If students learn the basic skills involving computers, it will only benefit them in the future.
Now that we know the importance of technology in the schools, how do we go about taking the steps to achieve this challenge? The first step I would take would be to research grants for financial help. Creating a computer lab in a school is very expensive. Finding the funds to pay for the electrical wiring, computers, printers, accessories, desks, chairs, etc. would be costly. Another option would be to go to the community for help. Even the smallest towns have businesses that could be approached for contributions. A third option would be to ask for donations in the form of older, outdated computers and equipment that is no longer being used. An excellent source for this might be military installations, government agencies or technology schools. However the challenge is accomplished, a computer lab would be crucial first step towards immersing your students in technology.
The second step in implementing technology into your school would be to research learning programs that would benefit the school. To do the research, a team of teachers would be assembled from your school or district to find different programs beneficial to the students. You might want to focus on a program that can be used for all grades. It would have to have different levels so the students could move up when they are ready. If after summer break they lost a few skills they can start at a lower level and work their way up to the top again. It would also be a good idea to look for programs that connect each content area.
Once a program is found that the team and school would like see, a representative would come out to your school to give a presentation. Most of the time presenters come and provide a trial disk of the program. You can try it out and see if it is something the school would want. Once again, if funds are a problem, money can be raised using the strategies explained earlier in the paper.
An example of technology material my school wanted to purchase was the Curriculum On Wheels (COW) program. This is a great resource for all different learning types. It is like a mini-computer that is on wheels. It actually is black and white, so it does look like a cow. It has the monitor and projector built it. All you have to do is plug it in and you’re set. You also receive emails on updates by inserting a thumb drive into the desk top. You then save the updates onto the thumb drive and upload the new information to the COW. As well as covering all content areas, COW has fun interactive games, songs, dances, vocabulary quizzes, and lots of other useful information. After my school heard the presentation on COW, we all wanted one for our classrooms. The only drawback is that it is only available for grades fourth and above at this time. Representatives of the program informed us that in about three years they should have a program for kindergarten through third grade.
During the presentation of the COW program, we were allowed to play around with the computer and just have fun. The presenter waited until we were completely sold on the presentation to inform us that each machine would cost $3,000. In a school that includes kindergarten through eighth grade that is quite a price tag. We were all disappointed to say the least. We immediately began to talk about ways we could afford the program. We formed a committee to brainstorm on how we could get at least one COW to be shared by the entire school. We talked about the possibility of applying for a grant. We talked about organizing a fund raiser. We finally agreed on the latter and came up with a fundraising idea. The students in my school have to wear uniforms. If the students want to dress down on Wednesdays (a half day) they will have to pay fifty cents for the privilege to do so. The money is going to raise funds not only for the COW but for other projects at our school. We presented the fund raiser to the parents which they approved.
Technology is growing faster today than ever before. In order to keep our students “up to date” on technology I think it is very important to have each and every student exposed to technology from the earliest age possible. This will give them a solid foundation on which to grow. This will not only prepare them for college and the business world, it will also make them successful in life in general. I personally believe that technology will be an integral part of the future. There are already high schools that don’t use text books, they upload their work onto a laptop instead. The students sign out a lap top each year, and they are responsible for it. Instead of writing and turning in papers, students email them to their teachers.
They also have discussion boards online. Technology is all around us and affects almost everything we do. If trends continue, technology will be so advanced that a strong foundation will be vital to survive. This is why it is so important for us to understand and implement the latest technological advances into our classrooms. Only then can we properly prepare our students for the future.
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