|Should Teachers Give Technology a Chance?
by Nellie Deutsch
Most high school and post secondary teachers in my neck of the woods are still using traditional lecture type of instruction. The rationale for using the old traditional face-to-face method is that it is safe because it has worked for students in the past. However, are students actively engaged in the learning process? Do they feel ownership and take responsibility for their learning? According to the literature and the latest educational innovations, learners should be actively learning rather than passively listening to the teacher (Phillips, 2005).
Active learning is an instructional strategy that researchers claim transforms learners from passive to active participants of the learning process. Active learning is very different from the traditional lecture. In active learning, teachers may chose (a) collaborative; teamwork with the emphasis on student interactions, (b) cooperative or teamwork with individual assessment, (c) and problem-based self-directed learning (Prince, 2004). Students who engage in active learning even briefly during a lecture, "will remember more content" as opposed to instructional methods that overload the learner with information at one time (Prince, 2004, p. 7).
According to the literature, teachers must prepare students for active learning by taking the role of facilitators that encourage and guide learners to stay focused in achieving the learning objectives (Friedman, Harwell & Schnepel, 2006; Modell, 1996).
One way of preparing students is to conduct ongoing evaluations of students' work to learn about their knowledge, skills, and affective status. Knowing what students have learned and reflecting on the instructional method used, can facilitate and improve instruction (Friedman et al., 2006; Hunt, Touzel & Wiseman, (1999).
Another way of assuring active engagement in the learning tasks is to provide individualized learning via electronic or internet-based learning environments. Computer-based learning provides "self-directed, meaningful interaction" (Derntl & Motschnig-Petrik, 2005, p. 112). According to Derntl & Motschnig-Petrik (2005), electronic learning is potentially more effective "given the instructor was experienced as a highly open, respectful, and understanding person" (p. 128).
On a personal and professional note; my students' have commented on the value of using technology in language learning. I can also see that their language skills have improved a great deal as they use technology in and out of the classroom. Do computer and exposure to electronic media facilitate the learning process? Does using blogs, wikis, social networks, listening to music engage and facilitate the acquisition of language skills?
Do you use technology? Would be willing to give technology a chance? If not, do you have alternative ways to engage learners in the learning process? Please share your methods and best practices of engaging learners in mastering language and other skills.
Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Please send your comments to Etnirag.
MDerntl, M., & Motschnig-Pitrik, R. (2005). The role of structure, patterns, and people in blended learning. Derntl, M., & Motschnig-Pitrik, R. (2005). The role of structure, patterns, and people in blended learning. Internet and Higher Education, 8, 111-130. Retrieved August 23, 2008, from http://www.pri.univie.ac.at/Publications/2005/iheduc05-derntl.pdf
Friedman, M., Harwell, D.H., & Schnepel, K. C. (2006). Effective instruction: A handbook of evidence-based strategies. Columbia, SC: The Institute for Evidence-Based Decision-Making in Education.
Hunt, G. H., Touzel, T. J., & Wiseman, D. (1999). Effective teaching: Preparation and implementation. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.
Modell, H. I. (1996, June). Preparing students to participate in an active learning environment. Advances in Physiology Education, 15(1), 69-77. Retrieved August 23, 2008, from http://www.physics.emory.edu/~weeks/journal/modell-aipe96.pdf
Phillips, J. M. (2005, March/April). Strategies for active learning in online continuing education. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 36(2), 77-83. Retrieved August 24, 2008, from ProQuest database.
Prince, M. (2004, July). Does active learning work: A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-232. Retrieved August 23, 2008, from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Prince_AL.pdf