MEANINGFUL LEARNING WITH TECHNOLOGY
M. van Ast1
, R. Njoo2
2Gerrit Rietveld College / APS (NETHERLANDS)
In The Netherlands there is a growing number of schools that provide their students with laptops or tablets. That is understandable, considering the need to reduce the gap between teachers and students. Besides that, from research we've learned that technology can increase learning outcome, motivation and the efficiency of organizing learning. At the same time we see that the introduction of technology not necessarily leads to those advantages. We know that the quality of the teacher is the most influential factor. The teacher, as a 'director of learning', is the one that can make the biggest difference.
First of all we have to make a distinction between 'teaching with technology' and 'learning with technology'. In the first case it is the teacher who uses the technology, in the second case it is the student. We think that in most (Dutch) schools the emphasis is on teaching with technology where we've experienced that when you let your students use a device, technology is used in a much more meaningful way.
There are times that your students respond to a learning activity you've prepared: "Oh no, not again..." With technology there is no difference. "Oh no... not Socrative again!" If that is the kind of feedback you're getting from your students, you know that you are using technology for the sake of technology. There is no connection with pedagogy or content. For instance, you've got five minutes of your lesson left and you decide to do a 'space race' with Socrative. The first time it's a lot of fun. Maybe the second time it still is fun. But there is an expiration date on using technology 'for fun'. Using technology in a meaningful way requires designing learning activities where content, pedagogy and technology are in balance with each other.
We have gained some experience with engaging learning activities that activate students. In those learning activities we've used technology in a supporting way. The technology supports the pedagogy and therefore the learning of our students. For instance, we've experimented with different kinds of learning activities to activate prior knowledge.
We've learned that not every subject, lesson or class is equally suitable for all the activities or tools. We've also learned that it's very important to use technology 'wisely'. A lesson packed with tools is not necessarily a good lesson. We've learned that it's best to find a balance between learning activities that include technology and lesson activities that don't. But we've also learned that when you use technology in class in a meaningful way, by keeping this in mind, technology can certainly increase engagement and motivation and therefore learning outcome.
Finally, we are very enthusiastic about the activating and engaging learning activities we've tried out in our lessons. We would love to share them with other teachers and educators.