* by Antonio Ferro
Expectations about the use of educational technologies is extremely positive. However, before these expectations can be met, we must consider some factors that remain unclear in the accelerated environment within our schools.
First, we need to address a very common question: what are educational technologies capable of producing throughout the evolution of student learning? The answer is simple: absolutely nothing – all alone. The evolution of student learning is caused by the pedagogical action of teachers in conjunction with student production, which should be valued.
The second question raised is: how to plan a lesson that incorporates educational technologies? This brings up an old topic of interest, which is class planning. Due to several factors, most classes are planned and focus on transferring information from teacher to student. In this repetitive process, the teacher moves away from reflecting on the learning goal, and as a result, the need to think by both students and teachers is eliminated. Let’s clarify with an example of a practical lesson about physics waves.
Rethinking a Physics lesson
If the goal of the class is “to present the characteristics of waves and their mathematical description”, it becomes clear that the role of the student is to attend and watch the presentation and there is no need for any tools besides a marker and board. But, in this example, there is not a defined learning goal for students. In this case, students are only responsible for attending and watching the presentation, therefore only consuming the content.
Let’s now change the focus to a class in which the goal is “to recognize characteristics or properties of wave or oscillatory phenomena and relating them to their uses in different contexts”. Here, the students are responsible for performing an activity in which they must first identify relations and then map them out. In this case, students move from being consumers of content to producers.
In this model, the teacher can still present to build base knowledge, but students would then work on their own to apply the knowledge and identify wave features. Now that the goal has been shifted to focus on student production, the question arises: how to effectively integrate technology?
Integrating technologies into the learning process
The activity referred to above can be carried out through a discussion forum or digital assignment in which students must identify the characteristics of a wave. For example, students can first analyze a video of a ball being kicked in a stadium and from the video identify the wave characteristics. Applying this activity, the teacher can evaluate whether the learning goal has been achieved and the if use of educational technology tools was significant in supporting the learning goal of the class.
Educational technologies in the classroom have caused reflection on the foundations of education: enhancing class planning to improve student academic success. Without planning, the class loses focus and student learning occurs accidentally, usually triggered by individual personalities. By reflecting on learning goals and optimizing the use of educational technologies, student learning can occur on a whole class basis and will not be reliant on individuals.