Technology in education can be as simple of the use of a Smartphone to do research or as complex as using programmable robotics with artificial intelligence. Research has shown that technology can help with literacy development, help with language acquisition, support learning, motivate students and enhance their self-esteem. It also helps with test scores, with the lowest achieving students (Kinder and Leu, 1997) making the most progress. The same research found that it was the most cost-effective in improving student achievement. What’s most important, though, is that today’s children exist in a digital world. Using technology is using their skills to help them learn in their way.
1. Technology helps writing
In The Reporter Project conducted by Kinder and Leu (1997) students using technology made improvements is how they wrote such as using main ideas, supporting details, cause and effect relationships etc. and was more cohesive. Technology can help students to get their ideas down on paper. They often write more often and longer.
2. Technology helps reading
Pearson et al. (2005) concluded that a wide range of digital tools such as images, video, audio clips, hypertext, hypermedia and web pages helped students to develop their reading. they found that reading comprehension, vocabulary development, word meaning and understanding of contextual information were all helped. Technology can help deliver the targeted, individualised help and intensive skill practice which can be hard to deliver in a classroom with 30 other students. As the ACSD states technology is:
- good at helping the repetitive practice needed
- available at all times
- gathers data
Most importantly technology allows students to make mistakes without anybody witnessing them or commenting on them. the feedback is immediate and dispassionate.
3. Technology helps language acquisition
Zhao (2005) studied the use of digital multimedia and language found that using technology helped:
- create stronger memory links
- makes learning more relevant
- makes the learning easier to understand
Teaching words, morphology, word origins can all help language acquisition and technology can help to provide the multi exposures needed to a word in order for it to become embedded. Direct vocabulary instruction is needed, but research shows that students learn many more words indirectly from reading than from teacher instruction (Cunningham and Stanovich, 2001). Use of technology can help with visual representations of words, instant access to technology which can pronounce tricky words and come up with definitions and can be fun through the use of games and other gamification methods.
4. Technology helps motivation
Kids like technology. they understand technology. They are motivated by technology. When students can see the relevance, have instant feedback, can self-assess and have teacher feedback intertwined their motivation increases (Daniels, 2002). Some students – the digital natives – enjoy working with technology because they understand it and can use it. Students often think that using a computer makes it fun and easy when the content is actually rather more complex than they are used to. Technology can guide and support students while they are learning to help build the intrinsic motivation – the motivation that comes from inside – to learn. It can also act as a bribe – extrinsic motivation- than those students who love to use technology. Either way, if using technology helps, then use it.
5. Technology helps self-esteem
Student confidence is important. When a child loses self-esteem or belief in themselves, they may learn motivation as well as pigeon-hole themselves into believing that they are stupid and shouldn’t try. They may feel that they are unworthy and that their learning doesn’t matter. In 2005, Romi and Zoabi studied the effect on the self-esteem of students who were serious at risk of dropping out of school or had already dropped out of school. They found that use of technology enhanced attitude towards learning, self-esteem and self-efficacy. It helps students take responsibility for their own learning. The computer doesn’t react if they are using distraction techniques to draw attention from the fact that they struggle with reading and writing – a computer is either right or wrong, but it never judges.
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