Aaron F. Nichols
Personal Statement on Technology Use in the Classroom in Higher Education
Technology belongs in the classrooms of all higher education institutions. Technology is a great enabler. It enables students by giving them vision and valuable skills for the job market. It enables instructors by facilitating and enhancing teaching. Technology also opens many doors for instructors who want to experiment with diverse teaching styles. Most importantly when technology is effectively used for teaching it greatly enhances learning for students.
A primary consideration for the use of technology in higher education is the job market. Even thirteen years ago employers expected college graduates to have at least midlevel computing skills for entry-level jobs. (Davis, 1997) In today’s white collar work environment software skills are required for giving effective presentations, basic data entry, graphic design, and much more. In order to be competitive in today’s job market, college graduates need to have at some experience and exposure to productive technology.
Technology in the classroom does not exist for the sake of merely teaching technology skills (that is only one benefit). Rather it exists to enhance the teaching and learning experience. The interplay between teaching knowledge, content knowledge, and technology knowledge creates a strong and focused learning environment. (Mishra, Koehler, & Kereluik, 2009) A Belgian study found that multimedia instruction, practical technology-driven activates, and feedback greatly enhanced oral presentation skills. (De Grez, Valcke, & Roozen, 2009)
The use of technology in the teaching and learning process also opens doors for diverse teaching styles. For example, a distance education class taught online can easily be taught in a constructivist learning environment wherein students are required to work collaboratively with each other, to learn more on their own and where the teacher plays the role of a coach rather than a lecturer. (Tam, 2000) The possibilities are endless.
Without question technology can be used to enhance student learning. A study done at Queens University found that, with hybrid classes, when the technology is fully aligned with the teaching aims – meaning that the technology supports the teaching – and is fully embedded within a course module, technology will significantly improve the student pass rate. (Turney, Robinson, Lee, & Soutar, 2009)
Instructors can create extremely engaging learning environments with the adaptation of even simple web-based technologies. For example, requiring students to post their work to a blog facilitates knowledge sharing, community building, class dialog, and reflection. Wikis enhance the group project experience and make group projects easy for distance learners. Podcasts give instructors the ability to quickly and easily disseminate news, announcements, and even lectures. (Saeed, Yang, & Sinnappan, 2009)
Passive learners greatly benefit from the use of Audience Response Systems; especially in a large lecture-style environment. In fact, one study showed that when an ARS was used student participation averages nearly 95% which is much higher than what was observed in traditional classroom settings. (Guthrie & Carlin, 2004)
With all of the opportunities and advantages the use of technology affords students and instructors in higher education, we must continue to move forward with our adoption of technology in the classroom. The benefits to our students and instructors are too great to ignore.
Davis, P. (1997). What computer skills do employers expect from recent college graduates? T.H.E. Journal, 25(2), 74-78.
De Grez, L., Valcke, M., & Roozen, I. (2009). The impact of an innovative instructional intervention on the acquisition of oral presentation skills in higher education. Computers & Education, 53(1), 112-120. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.01.005.
Guthrie, R. W., & Carlin, A. (2004, August). Waking the dead: Using interactive technology to engage passive listeners in the classroom. Proceedings of the Tenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, 2952-2959.
Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Kereluik, K. (2009). The song remains the same: Looking back to the future of educational technology. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 53(5), 48-53. doi:10.1007/s11528-009-0325-3.
Saeed, N., Yang, Y., & Sinnappan, S. (2009). Emerging web technologies in higher education: A case of incorporating blogs, podcasts and social bookmarks in a web programming course based on students’ learning styles and technology preferences. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 98-109.
Tam, M. (2000). Constructivism, instructional design, and technology: Implications for transforming distance learning. Educational Technology & Society, 3(2), 50-60.
Turney, C., Robinson, D., Lee, M., & Soutar, A. (2009). Using technology to direct learning in higher education. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(1), 71-83. doi:10.1177/1469787408100196.