Learning is a complex process. We learn by building on past experiences. By trial and error. by starting with simple tasks and combining them over time to accomplish more complex tasks; And by gaining insight and understanding of the relationship between different parts of the problem. Research shows that for teaching to be effective, the learner must be able to create meaningful, relevant patterns. The learning process must be maintained within the context of appropriate and challenging standards.
If our children are to realize the promise of American life, we must accept the premise that standards are the surest path to excellence. Parents and educators must inculcate an ethic of excellence in schools by raising standards of performance for both students and educational professionals. High expectations of students, teachers, and educational systems is critical. Technology is a way to reach a higher level of learning. With excellence in education a national priority, educators assess how new technologies can be harnessed to support the evolving communication styles and student/teacher roles that characterize the new teaching methods. These teaching methods allow students to investigate their questions in a variety of ways.
As the use of technology becomes more prevalent in our schools, there are important environmental characteristics that must exist in order to maximize the benefits of educational technology:
Participation at the district level and the computer coordinator at the school level are key factors in developing a school environment that is conducive to the effective use of technology. Leadership and technical support are essential elements of successful programmes.
Districts and teacher education programs must provide incentives, time, and a support system for teachers to realize the benefits of technology and feel comfortable using it in the classroom.
Teachers should allow students to pursue interests, develop understanding, and communicate results. Students should be encouraged to be creative and explore their questions.
Teachers understand the importance of fostering independent judgment, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in students. Student learning can be enhanced through educational programs and various communication technologies that allow the investigation of real-life issues faced by professionals. Despite their complexity, these teaching strategies provide the learner with authentic experiences and challenge personal exploration, resulting in student-directed learning with the teacher serving as a valuable resource and guide.
The rapid increase in government and commercial sponsorship of educational technology has led to several studies on the subject:
Technology has a positive impact on student achievement (in both formal and private education) from pre-school through high school.
Technology has a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards learning and their self-concept.
Introducing technology into the learning environment can make learning more student-centered, encourage collaborative learning and stimulate increased teacher-student interaction.
Technology can make the learning process more efficient without detracting from specific educational goals. Once an individual becomes proficient in the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, and oral communication, the learning experience can be further enhanced by computers, distance learning, and computer-assisted education using integrated learning systems, computer-based laboratories, presentation software, and telecommunications.
Integrating technology into education provides very significant benefits. With more effective planning sessions and a greater understanding of different learning styles, teachers can focus on the needs of individual students. This focus also allows the teacher to set developmentally appropriate expectations for each student, thus enhancing the individual’s learning. These efforts find that teachers organize the learning process rather than act as distributors of knowledge. Classrooms can have more small group collaboration and interaction, allowing focus on the student.
While educational technology includes many delivery methods and support mechanisms, the computer is often a major component. Many researchers have investigated the impact of computers on the learning process. Research confirms the advantages that technology brings to the learning process. However, its availability and use are issues facing educators. One of the most important challenges is the day-to-day integration of these tools into the educational process.