- How does the technology engage students in learning?
- Students are used to engaging in online chatting every day in their personal lives. Being able to do so in school is a novelty that allows them to connect with their peers in a way that they are not usually able to access during school. Students that do not usually like to speak may feel more comfortable sharing their ideas out in an anonymous forum. Students will be able to engage with peers through joint media engagement in ways they may be unable to in the regular classroom due to interpersonal conflicts or social awkwardness. Students will always have something to be working on. No longer will they be able to leave the thinking to their more eager peers; everyone has a computer, so no one has an excuse not to be typing a response to a question or another peer’s thoughts.
- How does the technology enhance student learning?
- Students will be able to quickly read over a variety of perspectives, rather than having to wait for hands to be raised and a myriad of answers to be spoken verbally. Students may quickly refer back to viewpoints from perspectives that are highlighted by which “characters” are talking, and can get a better sense of each perspective given the number of responses written down from each perspective all at once. Students can sift through at their own pace, such that they won’t be subject to a classroom environment that is either too fast-paced or two slow-paced should it be based on verbal communication. Students that are quiet will feel more comfortable sharing out their thoughts online. Students that do not have reliable access to a computer will gain practice typing, and having responses prepared for those students that need extra scaffolding will allow them to participate in a way that might otherwise be impossible with verbal communication in the classroom. Verbal communication is undoubtedly important, but in the context of sharing and synthesizing thoughts, an online chat allows for the visual aid of a hard copy of what has been said for students to use higher-level thinking skills such as being able to analyze and consider at their own pace, allowing them to make more informed replies as well as giving them a stress-free outlet to reply at their own pace, when the question has been posed and the topic remains the same for long enough for them to formulate a response.
- How does the technology extend student learning
- Most students use online communication every day, and those that don’t likely will someday. Online communication is part of student's prior knowledge and increasingly at the heart of our society. Being able to discuss educational topics in an online forum allows students to consider the possibility of further discussing educational topics in online forums with their peers. This lesson allows students to explore the various uses of online communication and consider that online communication is not necessarily just for messing around with friends and snapchat filters, but can also be used as a space for intellectual conversation surrounding an educational topic. Students that use online communication everyday will feel at home connecting with their peers in this medium, and students that do not have the opportunity to use online communication everyday will feel excited that they get the opportunity to interact with their peers in an online forum. Online discussion on scholarly topics is increasingly commonplace through professional live twitter chats, webinars, and email communications. Practicing discussing educational topics in an online forum is giving students tools that they will need in the future in our increasingly web-based society.
5th grade teacher, Sarah Godek, decided that she wanted to simulate the revolutionary time period through discussion. She chose to use Twiducate, a tool that is a kid-friendly microblogging tool like Twitter. This lesson is situated within the larger context of a unit on the events leading up to and the play out of the American Revolutionary War, with a focus on the various different perspectives of people living in and around the British colonies. In Twiducate, students each took on a different perspective during the American revolution, so that they would better understand why some colonists decided to become loyalists, patriots or indifferent to the revolutionary cause. Prior to this lesson, students have learned about the unfavorable acts passed by the British Parliament, retaliatory events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, and about the factions of colonists that developed as a result (loyalists and patriots). Following this lesson, students will study how the American Revolution began, progressed, and ended. This lesson is intended to allow students to see the greater arc of the American Revolution in the context of the various perspectives that it affected, and how not every perspective experienced the arc of the Revolution in the same “patriotic” way. Below Sarah describes how technology helped to engage, enhance and extend her learning goals.
Liz Kolb is a clinical assistant professor of education technologies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She works with over 150 preservice teachers every year on integrating technology into K-12 teaching.
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