Educational Psychology and Technology

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Role of Technology in Education,

Role of Technology in Education, 2 Introduction The only constant is change and mankind is in a period of rapid technologically driven change. Although the personal computer and the internet are less than 30 and 20 years old, respectively, information and communication technology (ICT) has revolutionized how we live, work and communicate. The commercial mantra of smaller, faster, cheaper, smarter has put intelligent mobile devices in the hands of today’s learners, but technology has had little real impact upon education. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of technology in education because the problem will only get worse as technology improves. Learning Learning is based upon four tenets: meaningful learning is more than accumulating knowledge; knowledge and skills are linked; learning requires far transfer, being able to apply principles to a new situation; and cognitive load, transfers between long-term memory and working memory are unlimited (recall), but transfers between working memory and long-term memory (learning) are limited because working memory (seven unique pieces held for 20 seconds) can be easily overloaded (Cook & McDonald, 2008). Behaviourists and cognitivists (direct instruction) believe knowledge can be transferred, so they divide learning into small chunks from the simple to the complex. Constructivists believe knowledge cannot be transferred, but must be constructed by the individual, so they use open-ended questions to let learners construct their own answers (cognitive constructivism) and group discussions on answers to correct misconceptions (social constructivism). But an instructional approach must only be as complicated as necessary to achieve learning (Spiro, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, 1995). Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) believe that minimal, constructivist-based

Role of Technology in Education, 3 instruction: is less effective than direct instruction for novice and intermediate learners and only equally effective for expert learners; and may have negative results as learners make errors constructing knowledge. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2007) feel the search for answers forces novice learners to overload their working memory, with little transfer to long-term memory and weak guidance causes cognitive overload as learners form weak problem-solving strategies. A novice struggles to learn new material because everything is new. An intermediate learner does better because they understand some of the material. Expert learners easily separate material to concentrate on central arguments or concepts. The greater the correlation between the learner's expertise and learning, the easier the assimilation and less assistance or scaffolding required. Their personal expertise makes them an expert and learners use prior learning or schema to incorporate the learning into their reality. The smaller the correlation means the learning is harder and more scaffolding is required. The learner functions as a novice, since their prior learning does not apply and can actually be a hindrance. All learners try to leverage prior learning to complete tasks regardless of the complexity of answers, until the prior learning does not work or they find a better way. Failure to complete tasks does not mean learners are motivated to learn and they can choose not to learn for any reason: not important; too difficult; or differs from their world-view. Learners are comfortable stepping outside their own reality when they perceive a need to learn new material or Ausubel’s meaningful learning (1962, as cited by Novak, 1998). If the learner does not perceive the material is important, the learner will use memorization, which is easily forgotten or Ausubel’s rote learning (as cited by Novak). Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants Prenksy (2001a) describes Digital Natives as the generation that “have spent their entire

Role of Technology in Education, 4 lives...
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