Archive | October 2013

Will Technology Change Education?

Over the years technology has been moving in high speed. Education systems are already using a vast amount of different technologies such as smart boards, computers, tablets, and clickers. All this makes you wonder where technology will have gone in three, five, and ten years time.

Although Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a module taught in the majority of schools, is there enough technology being taught to students? As we have experienced, technology has developed drastically over the last five years therefore the curriculum needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted to teach students about the latest technology and software (Boe, 2011). Some might argue that technology should be taught after the core modules such as mathematics, language, and science. However, technology is a part of everyday life now and future employers will seek candidates that have good technology skills. An employer might look for good mathematics skills however they may also require that the candidate must also know how to use mathematical equations in Excel. Therefore, to enhance technology skills further the amount that is taught needs to change.

We already know that schools teach basic skills such as how to use Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, however there is much more to these programs than the education system are willing to teach. For example, Excel can do much more than create nice looking spreadsheets and graphs. Excel has numerous amounts of equations that can range from doing simple mathematics to being able to choose a range of numbers you want to view. Have you ever typed all in capitals without realising and then having to delete it and start again? Well there is an equation in Excel that would change it all for you without having to re-write the whole thing. Some might say that there is too much content to go into such detail with one program. Therefore, this issue could be resolved by teaching them in other modules as well as ICT.  For example, the mathematic equations could be taught within the mathematic and engineering modules.

One study examined the use of technology by teachers in physical education classes (Bennett-Walker, 2007). There is a large range of technologies that can be used in conjunction with physical exercise, such as heart rate monitors, CD players, stopwatches etc. The study used a survey questionnaire and found that the top five types of technology used by physical education teachers were CD players, video/VCR, internet, stopwatches, and computers for preparation. There was also a list of the least five used, which included such things as heart rate monitors and computers during lessons. They also found that 50% of the participants stated that one of the main barriers to use technology was due to the lack of time. A lack of time is an issue for most schools and making school days longer is not going to happen any day soon, therefore how do teachers make lessons more effective in the time that they have? I believe that the way around this is to make technology a part of every module in schools. This way, students are having hours of exposure and learning new things that relate to their modules. A study has already found that teachers support the use of technology and they are appropriately using technology skills for instruction (Lyle, 2010). Therefore, the only thing left is for the curriculum to be adjusted for technology to be developed in the classroom.

References

Bennett-Walker, S. Technology use among physical education teachers in Georgia public schools. ProQuest Information and Learning, 68. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.unicat.bangor.ac.uk/psycinfo/docview/622022060/1415419B66933DF2622/3?accountid=14874

Boe, J. A. (2011). Strategies for science, technology, engineering and math in technology education. ProQuest Information and Learning, 71. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.unicat.bangor.ac.uk/psycinfo/docview/861791408/14153F3128D15CAE668/4?accountid=14874

Lyle, K. E. (2010). Teachers’ perceptions of their technology education curricula. ProQuest Information and Learning, 70. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.unicat.bangor.ac.uk/psycinfo/docview/849023093/1415433E2694F895D8A/10?accountid=14874

What is the best way to learn?

When you think of a school you think of children sat in a classroom being taught information by a teacher. When you think of university you think of students sitting in rows listening to a lecturer. However, is this the best way to learn?

Although many of us tend to learn by attending lectures, making lecture notes, researching around the subject area on the web and making some background reading, there are other ways of learning that may be more effective.

One way to learn and remember things better is to put the information you have learned into practice. For example, if you are learning a new language it is important to practice speaking this new language with another person, this way you know what you need to work on. However, it is also thought that physical practice isn’t always needed, as mental practice is just as effective. One study demonstrated this when there were two sets of participants; the first mentally practiced a five-finger sequence on a piano and the other physically practiced the same sequence on an actual piano. The results demonstrated the same neurological changes in both groups as well as the mental practice group demonstrating a reduction in mistakes (link for Dr Noa Kageyama’s blog in the reference list).

Another effective way of learning is to learn in more than one way. For example, you may have made some notes during a lecture therefore this becomes visual learning. However, if you spread the information so you are doing some auditory and verbal learning as well (for example listening to podcasts and talking over the information with a friend) you are more likely to learn as the information is cementing in your mind. According to Willis (2008), the more areas of the brain that stores information about a certain area or subject, the more the person will remember as the information is connected in more ways than one i.e. visually, verbally, and auditory. This also makes it easier to respond to a single cue as the information can be pulled up from multiple storage areas. This also means the information has been learned and not just memorised. 

When revising the common thing to do is write out your lecture notes, read textbooks, and remember as much of the information as possible. However, by implementing certain methods the information may become easier to remember. One method is testing yourself. By taking a test you will be able to see what you know and what you don’t know. You can then move on from the test and concentrate on the information you didn’t know. Research also shows that students who take tests on what they have been learning have better long-term recall of the information (Chan, McDermott & Roediger 2006).

However, lecturers can also enhance student learning by implanting a few methods into their teaching techniques. They need to engage successfully with the students in order for them to stay focused and interested. Also when using examples to explain certain material they can use examples that the students can relate to. For example it could be a funny story and this will help the students to remember the information in the future.  

To conclude, to enhance your learning you should practice what your learning (both physically and mentally). Also learn the information in more than one way; therefore learn using visual, auditory, and verbal methods and that way the information is cementing in your brain in more than one area. Another effective way of boosting your knowledge and to remember information better is to self-test. By testing yourself you realise what you know well and what you need to work on and more often than not you will realise that you know a lot more than you think. Finally, it is not all down to us as students, the way we are taught is very important. If lecturers are able to engage with us successfully then we are more likely to listen and stay engaged and therefore learn more.

 

References

Willis, J. (2008). Brain-based teaching strategies for improving students’ memory, learning, and test-taking success.(Review of Research). Childhood Education, 83(5), 31-316.

Chan, J.C., McDermott, K.B., & Roediger, H.L. (2006). Retrieval-induced facilitation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135(4), 553-571. doi: 10.1037/0096-3445.135.4.553

Dr Noa Kageyama’s blog – http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/does-mental-practice-work/

Should exams be banned from education?

Exams is one of the words that students dread to hear their teacher/lecturer say. Exams have so much pressure and stress related to them, can we blame students if they dislike them so much?

To assess whether students are learning is an essential part of education however assessment methods need to be modified. The main assessment method that has been around for years are exams. They test what the students have learned and then they are graded. Some exams can be weighted a lot more than others and in my opinion this is where the stress comes from. If a student has worked hard throughout the year and their grade is based 100% on their end of term exam then it can become very stressful. A pupil can do all the preparation in the world however if they are not feeling very well on that one day that their exam is due to take place it could mean poor exam performance. That’s all the hard work over the past year gone down the drain because they were unable to perform to their full potential on the exam day. According to Visnjic, Milosavljevic, & Djordjevic (2009) the pressure students feel prior to exams has a significant effect on the development of stress. Another study found that end of year exams did not contribute to the students achievement (Shuster, 2009).

Exams are not a method of assessing what students have learned, they are a method of assessing how good their memory is. For example, having to write an essay in an exam requires students to write out several essay plans and memorise them. They may understand the content of their essays however if they do not have a very good memory to be able to memorise their essay plans they will not succeed in the exam. This is due to their essay having no structure and all the information they know about that topic thrown onto the page.

Alternative assessment methods to exams are coursework, blogs, and frequent testing. These will all demonstrate what the students have learnt without putting them under immense stress. These assessment methods could also provide them with feedback in which they can take on board and improve. Removing the stress element out of assessments and giving the opportunity for students to receive feedback and then improve their work will demonstrate a clearer image of what the students have actually learnt and not memorised. Removing the major stress element that comes with exams will also allow students to perform to the best of their ability.

 

References

Shuster, C. (2009). Re-examining exit exams: New evidence from the education longitudinal study of 2002. ProQuest Information & Learning, 70. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.unicat.bangor.ac.uk/psycinfo/docview/622074519/1410DCDB3CC3F41D0D/1?accountid=14874

Visnjic, A. M., Milosavljevic, N. D., & Djordjevic, G. D. (2009). Stress factors of medical students in Serbia. Journal of Public Health, 17(5), 309-313. doi:10.1007/s10389-009-0250-0