Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Interactive Learning

Interactive learning is a new web site dedicated to improving student performance through interactive learning. Here teachers can find how schools are integrating technologies into the classroom to enhance the thinking and learning.

There is a very interesting article which gives a ten year update on technology and education. The article points to how, after 30 years with technology in the schools, there has been a lack of change in the classrooms:

"The reality is that advocates have over-promised the ability of educators to extract a learning return on technology investments in school. The research studies now suggest that the error was not in citing the potential of technology to augment learning – for research now indicates that the effective use of technology can result in high levels of learning. The error was in underestimating the critical need for the system changes required to use technologies effectively in learning."
Here in New Zealand, we have a similar scenario. Although we have some schools where change is evident and the teachers are using the technology as a tool in their classrooms to build 21st century skills we also have others where the technology is used as a 'reward' for good behaviour or for word processing a story but little else.

I was teaching some students in an intermediate school last term. The students in this group came from every class in the school and were learning new skills to be able to show others in their class as well as using the skills in their own learning. Every Web 2 tool I went to use with the group was either blocked or was not able to be used properly on the school's network - very frustrating for the teachers wanting to use these technologies. Staff professional development was offered to the teachers in this school on a needs basis and was held before school in the morning. Few teachers took up this offer 'we are too busy in the mornings getting ready for the day'.

The research states that the real potential of the technology has still not been realised in education.
"Overall,across all uses in all content areas, technology does provide a small, but significant, increase in learning when implemented with fidelity and accompanied by appropriate pedagogical shifts. While this is generally encouraging, the real value lies in the identification of those technology interventions that get significant positive results that warrant investment."

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