Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Technological challenges for Educators

A few months ago I took an online teaching course and I had the opportunity to learn about the use of technology by "digital natives" (students born in the information technology age) in comparison to their teachers. I didn't like how adult educators were put down because their lack of using technology. In the discussion forum of this course I expressed my feelings about those allegations. Technology is only a tool. The old educators educated the creators of technology even though they didn't know about technology. Do the "digital natives" not owe some recognition to their educators? I haven't read anything about students blaming their teachers because they are more proficient than them in their use of technology.The irony is that educators were blaming themselves for that. I read a book by Will Richardson about the use of the web in Education and later I read his wiki. "Students are leading teachers by participating, collaborating and creating more", he noted in his wiki site. He related some statistics about the use of social software by students. “ 71% of students with online access use social networking tools on a weekly basis”. “75% of college students have a Facebook site”. Indeed students use Information and Computer Technology more than their educators but are they using it for educational purposes?

 A survey of 25,000 students at the university of Wisconsin in 2008 concerning the use of technology by students showed the following results:
Only 3% don’t own a computer.
59% own an internet capable cell phone.
18% of freshmen spent more than 16 hrs per week on social networking.
Fine Arts use the least amount of technology. Engineering uses the most.
Students believe that instructors do not understand their IT skills level.
47% of students believe IT improves learning in courses. 37% were neutral.
 Only 26% believed that online recording of lectures tempt them to skip class more often.
56.7% use social networking to set up conversations.

The Do It Student Technology report showed the differences between the student and faculty uses of tech. Here are some results:
88% of students but only 59% use Wikipedia.
78% of students but only 39% of faculty use portable media devices.
85% of students but only 45% of faculty use YouTube.
75% of students but only 35% of faculty uses SMS.
41% of faculty use Google apps.
32% of students use a gaming console.

 The good side about the University of Wisconsin report is that a little less than half of the students surveyed believe that IT improves learning in courses (47%). This survey doesn't show the educational use of the Information and Computer Technology by students more than their teachers. “ We are entering a time of deeply personalized, passion based learning . Youth using new media often learn from their peers or adults, and notions of expertise and authority have been turned on their heads” (John Steely Brown). He continued further to state that this fact makes our curricula less and less relevant to our students. The learning expectation is to create and not to consume and creation is not coming yet.

The above citation from John Steely Brown showed that students use technology for educational purposes but don't state if they use technology more than their teachers for educational purposes.Technology remains a tool that helps to reach educational goals. Some cognitive skills and a willingness to use it for educational purposes are the prerequisites to reap its benefits in Education. The educational benefits of technology are multiple. Learners can create their own content. They can use technology to learn collaboratively and teachers can become more facilitators than instructors.

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