It is not enough to use technology for its own sake - the use of technology must play a part in the achievement of educational goals. What are the learning goals? What should the student be able to do/know/understand as a result of the experience? Technology offers many tools today that teachers at all levels can use in their classrooms - whether they are teaching online, face to face, or a blend of the two.
This leads to the question: what type of technology is best? My answer to this echoes what I have previously stated: it depends on the learning objectives. However, it is clear to me that the more involved a student is in his or her own learning the more effective the learning will be. Enter two terms: Static Technology and Dynamic Technology.
Static technology is defined as technology that allows the learner to gain information, or serve as a way for teachers to broadcast information (Moller, 2008). There is very little interaction involved for the student. Additionally, this type of technology is most like the traditional, teacher-centered classroom and is most common because it is comfortable and familiar. In other words, if you are still doing the same thing you have always done, but with technology, then you have not truly grasped the concept of integrating technology.
Dynamic technology is much more interactive. This type of technology requires students to be involved in their own learning at a much higher cognitive level (Moller, 2008). Mind tools are an example of this type of technology. Students have to explore, create, think, analyze, experiment, and solve problems. Such a high level of interactivity involves the students to a much higher degree and could help to create learners who are better thinkers and more creative (Moller, 2008).
Many teachers fall into the middle of this continuum. It is a scary proposition to leave the comfort zone for something new. Teachers understand the importance of their positions and how their actions can impact students. I believe I fall into the dynamic end of the middle of this continuum. I make use of many of these tools such as wikis. But I also encourage my students to come up with their own products, their own solutions, their own ideas. Creation and collaboration and communication are all very important aspects of my classroom. Through the use of collaborative tools such as wikis, ePals, and Scribblar my students can brainstorm, create, and communicate in new ways using technology. Edmodo is used for sharing, creating, discussing, and collaborating. Students create videos using a wide variety of tools and technology - and often based upon their own ideas. I have not addressed the gaming aspect of education yet, but it is something I anticipate incorporating into my classroom at some point. I still use some static tools, such as videos. However, the way students use the videos is as a springboard for their own project ideas.
No matter where a teacher falls in the static-dynamic continuum, it is clear that the way teachers teach and students learn is changing faster than ever. Understanding our students' needs and how technology can be utilized most effectively is a crucial component for educators. It is not enough to do a book report in a new format. There has to be more involvement for the students. They need to be allowed - no, they need to be ENCOURAGED - to take on more control over their own learning and educators need to be there to act as guides that point them in the right direction that will strengthen students' ability to think, create, and learn.
Moller, L. (2008). Static and dynamic technological tools. [Unpublished Paper].