Classrooms, like the rest of the different areas in today’s world, have been forced to progressively adopt technology in the teaching-learning process. However, the concept of equipping classrooms with connected devices is certainly nothing new. The reality is that students’ technological devices have often been timidly incorporated, but are still not fully exploited. Precisely because they are sometimes considered as a distraction or at best as a complement. This, instead of giving them their place as tools that are essential for teaching and learning.
For some time now, many schools and universities have relied on both desktop computers and laptops. But this solution has been cumbersome, not only because of the costs involved but also because teachers cannot count on these tools every time they need them. In many cases these computers are shared by several classrooms and it is not possible to know if the computers will work properly when they need them.
Some schools have successfully developed computer labs, but others have found it nearly impossible to manage a computing environment where each student has a different device. Even those that do have one device per student, they have found it difficult to continue funding programs over time. Others failed to achieve the necessary updates to ensure a high level of performance.
Modern learning environments are designed so that students would have constant access to connectivity. In the same way, according to the National Research Council of States Units (2000), they must be supported by background technology. They must also have teacher training to ensure that student devices are used properly in the classroom.
Technology and the Teaching-Learning Environment in the Time of COVID19
As we can see the solution is not simple. Many schools and universities have opposed the use of the student’s own tools in the classroom whether tablets or mobile phones. Likewise, even if they have the equipment in the classroom, the Internet connection 100% of the study time is not possible. However, it has already been proven that audiovisual solutions in the classroom directly support student learning and participation.
In the current environment, with the quarantine as a result of COVID19,the teaching-learning process has been reinvented and technology has been established in almost all areas where it was not yet present. In addition, access to the Internet by children and adolescents has been revived as a means of carrying out their activities. Depending on the degree and the objectives of instruction, these solutions may also include interactive whiteboards, cameras. In the same way, the use of multi-touch digital screens, projectors and even audio and video tapes and CDs are suggested. The key is not to implement a unique audiovisual tool with a unique approach, but rather to equip classrooms with various solutions. These would help teachers reach their students, even when they are not in the classroom.
Background to the use of computer technologies in the classroom
Attempts to use computer technologies to enhance learning have been present since before the widespread use of personal computers. According to Hernández (2000), they began with the efforts of pioneers such as Atkinson and Suppes since 1968. The presence of computer technology in schools and universities has increased dramatically since then and predictions indicate that this trend will continue to accelerate. There is a widespread view that technology will improve student learning and performance. However, some still believe that technology in the classroom is a waste of time and money, since its maintenance is very expensive. What we are sure of is that it has great potential to improve student performance and teacher learning, but only if used properly.
What is now known about learning provides important guidelines for the use of technology to help students and teachers develop the competencies needed for the twenty-first century. New technologies provide opportunities to create learning environments. This expands the possibilities given to us by books, whiteboards and other media. These are linear and unidirectional, like radio and television programs, unlike technology that offers us new possibilities.
However, the mere use of technology does not guarantee effective learning. Inappropriate uses of technology can hinder learning. For example, if students spend most of their time choosing fonts and colors for report. Time should be used to plan, write, and review your ideas. Many aspects of technology facilitate the creation of environments that conform to learning principles.
Benefits of Technology in the Teaching-Learning Environment
Because many new technologies are interactive, it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing. They can also receive feedback and continuously refine their understanding and develop new knowledge. In the same way, they can communicate with their teachers in video or via chat, at the times designated for it.
New technologies can also help people visualize hard-to-understand concepts, with the use of graphics or with visualization and modeling software, increasing their understanding. These technologies also provide access to a wide variety of information, including digital libraries, databases, and foster contact with others who can provide information, feedback, and inspiration. In the same way, they can improve the training of teachers and school administrators and increase connections between educational environments and communities, including homes.
In this regard, the benefits of technology in the teaching-learning environment can be summarized in four ways:
- Providing tools to enhance learning;
- Giving students and faculty more opportunities for feedback, reflection, and review;
- Building bridges between schools, universities and communities including faculty, administrators, students, practising scientists and other stakeholders; and
- Expanding opportunities for teacher training.
Towards a new curriculum
An important use of technology is its ability to create new opportunities for curriculum updating. It brings real-world problems into the classroom for students to explore and solve. Similarly, technology can help create an active environment. In this students also find new problems to solve on their own. This approach to learning is very different from typical classrooms, in which students spent most of their time learning facts from the teacher’s explanation or from their textbook. Or solving the questions at the end of each topic.
Learning through real-world contexts is not a new idea. For a long time, schools and universities have made sporadic efforts in this regard. These have focused on providing students with concrete experiences through field trips, labs, and community work programs. But these activities have rarely been at the center of the curriculum. They have not been easily incorporated into schools and universities due to logistical constraints or the amount of subject to be covered. Technology offers powerful tools to address these limitations.
Technology has changed the teaching-learning process forever
Technological tools usher in fundamental structural changes that can be integral to achieving significant improvements in productivity. It also expands the offers of courses, experiences and learning materials. It also supports the process 24/7, develops 24/2st century skills, and increases student engagement and motivation. Technology also has the power to transform teaching by introducing a new model of connected teaching. This model links teachers with their students and also personalizes learning.
According to Molina (2003), online learning opportunities and the use of open educational resources and other technologies can increase educational productivity by accelerating the rate of learning. In addition, it reduces the costs associated with instructional materials and takes advantage of the teacher’s time. E-grade books, digital folders, online learning games, and real-time feedback on teacher and student performance are some of the ways technology can be used to drive learning.
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Technology has become an important tool in education. Its use holds great promise both for increasing access to knowledge and for promoting learning. With the new context of COVID19, teachers have seen first-hand all the possibilities provided by the Internet. It links students from all over the world with a wide world of useful information at their fingertips and with wide possibilities of communication.
They can thus be powerful pedagogical tools, not only sources of information, but also extensions of the capacities and contexts for social interactions that support learning. However, it should be noted that it is not just a technical issue concerning the properties of educational hardware and software. The support of teachers is required. Like a textbook or any other cultural object, technological resources for education function in a social environment. This should be mediated by learning conversations with the facilitators of the same.
However, these support tools have not yet become the norm. Software programmers for children and teens are generally more driven by the gaming market than by the learning potential of their products. Computer experts, learning experts and education policy planners must take on the challenge of exploiting the potential of computer technologies to enhance learning. Much remains to be learned about using the potential of technology. For this to happen, learning research will need to go hand in hand with programming.
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National Research Council (2000). Technologies to support learning. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Hernandez, A (2000). The teaching of learning strategies. Revista Actas Pedagógicas, Ibagué, Colombia.
Molina, E. (2003). Comparative analysis of practical training in the university system as a basis for evaluation and improvement. FORCE research team University of Granada and DOE Group. Rovira I Virgili University.