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Article

STEM Education, Economic Productivity, and Social Justice  

David E. Drew

Just as the factory assembly line replaced the farmer’s plow as the symbol of economic productivity at the beginning of the 19th century, so the computer and its software have replaced the assembly line at the beginning of the 21st century. In the United States, and in countries around the world, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education has moved front and center in national discussions of both productivity and social justice. This article will include (a) a review of how the world of work has changed, with a special focus on the history and impact of digital technology since ca. 1970; (b) lessons from research about K-12 education—elementary, middle school, and secondary education—and about higher education; and (c) research about how to increase access to education, and facilitate achievement, for those who traditionally have been under-represented in STEM education. Rigorous research has demonstrated how psychological and sociological factors (e.g., self-concepts, instructor expectations, and social support) often make the difference between student success and failure. To fully contextualize consideration of STEM education, many advocate broadening STEM to STEAM by including the arts, or the arts and humanities, in building educational programs. In today’s world a young person who wishes to secure a better life for himself or herself would be well advised to study STEM. Furthermore, a nation that wishes to advance economically, while reducing the gap between the have’s and the have-not’s, should strengthen its STEM education infrastructure.

Article

Technology Proficiency in Teaching and Facilitating  

Norazlinda Saad and Surendran Sankaran

Technology proficiency is the ability to use technology to communicate effectively and professionally, organize information, produce high-quality products, and enhance thinking skills. In classroom settings, technology proficiency refers to the ability of teachers to integrate technology to teach and facilitate, as well as to improve learning, productivity, and performance. These abilities are needed to participate in a technological world. Technology proficiency enables teachers to identify and explore a wide variety of technological tools and devices in order to determine and select those that best respond to teaching and learning contents. Among teachers, basic proficiency in information technologies is typically used to communicate electronically, organize activities and information, and create documents in schools or higher-education institutions. Proficiency in using technological tools and devices can be achieved through experience and instruction. It is necessary to introduce experimentation into teaching practices and maintain accessible technological tools and devices. Technology proficiency seems relevant to many aspects of the teaching profession, such as lesson preparation and development of teaching kids. Other aspects that impact teacher decisions to introduce technology into teaching and learning activities are teachers’ beliefs about the way the subject should be taught and the skills associated with teacher competence in managing classroom activities using technology tools and devices. Therefore, teachers must be able to apply the technological knowledge and skills required in professional job roles and responsibilities in order to achieve the expected outputs. As an educator in the 21st century, it is imperative to integrate technology into the curriculum for a variety of reasons. Students need to be exposed to and be familiar with technologies in order to compete in the world marketplace, and they need to be able to integrate them in dynamic social environments. The world is dominated by technology in all forms, and to be successful, students must possess 21st-century skills. In addition, technology proficiency improves efficiency in teaching and facilitating. Being more efficient usually means that teachers have more time, and it allows additional space for innovation, planning, conversing, thinking, and creativity. Technology can be instrumental in making teachers more efficient.

Article

Working Memory: Models and Applications  

Stoo Sepp, Steven J. Howard, Sharon Tindall-Ford, Shirley Agostinho, and Fred Paas

In 1956, Miller first reported on a capacity limitation in the amount of information the human brain can process, which was thought to be seven plus or minus two items. The system of memory used to process information for immediate use was coined “working memory” by Miller, Galanter, and Pribram in 1960. In 1968, Atkinson and Shiffrin proposed their multistore model of memory, which theorized that the memory system was separated into short-term memory, long-term memory, and the sensory register, the latter of which temporarily holds and forwards information from sensory inputs to short term-memory for processing. Baddeley and Hitch built upon the concept of multiple stores, leading to the development of the multicomponent model of working memory in 1974, which described two stores devoted to the processing of visuospatial and auditory information, both coordinated by a central executive system. Later, Cowan’s theorizing focused on attentional factors in the effortful and effortless activation and maintenance of information in working memory. In 1988, Cowan published his model—the scope and control of attention model. In contrast, since the early 2000s Engle has investigated working memory capacity through the lens of his individual differences model, which does not seek to quantify capacity in the same way as Miller or Cowan. Instead, this model describes working memory capacity as the interplay between primary memory (working memory), the control of attention, and secondary memory (long-term memory). This affords the opportunity to focus on individual differences in working memory capacity and extend theorizing beyond storage to the manipulation of complex information. These models and advancements have made significant contributions to understandings of learning and cognition, informing educational research and practice in particular. Emerging areas of inquiry include investigating use of gestures to support working memory processing, leveraging working memory measures as a means to target instructional strategies for individual learners, and working memory training. Given that working memory is still debated, and not yet fully understood, researchers continue to investigate its nature, its role in learning and development, and its implications for educational curricula, pedagogy, and practice.

Article

Online Learning  

Lisa Marie Blaschke and Svenja Bedenlier

With the ubiquity of the Internet and the pedagogical opportunities that digital media afford for education on all levels, online learning constitutes a form of education that accommodates learners’ individual needs beyond traditional face-to-face instruction, allowing it to occur with the student physically separated from the instructor. Online learning and distance education have entered into the mainstream of educational provision at of most of the 21st century’s higher education institutions. With its consequent focus on the learner and elements of course accessibility and flexibility and learner collaboration, online learning renegotiates the meaning of teaching and learning, positioning students at the heart of the process and requiring new competencies for successful online learners as well as instructors. New teaching and learning strategies, support structures, and services are being developed and implemented and often require system-wide changes within higher education institutions. Drawing on central elements from the field of distance education, both in practice and in its theoretical foundations, online learning makes use of new affordances of a variety of information and communication technologies—ranging from multimedia learning objects to social and collaborative media and entire virtual learning environments. Fundamental learning theories are being revisited and discussed in the context of online learning, leaving room for their further development and application in the digital age.

Article

Social Media and School Leadership Efficiency  

Byabazaire Yusuf, Lynne M. Walters, and Abdul Halim Mohamed

Social media platforms have emerged as a powerful communication strategy for school leaders, whether within a school or in the community as a whole. The potential for the heads of school to improve leadership connectedness and efficiency lies in the proper selection and use of available social media tools. This would consolidate their position and influence in a 21st-century learning environment. Social media tools provide efficient means for school leaders to mobilize and to build consensus on important matters among their subordinates or stakeholders before arriving at a final decision. They also can use social media tools to shape a vision of academic success for students, motivate academic staff in carrying out their duties in a diligent manner, and build support for their efforts by communicating directly with parents and the community. By spearheading the use of social media strategies, school leaders can inspire teachers to embark on a pedagogical shift by putting real-world tools in the hands of students. This would allow students to consume information, as well as to create artifacts of learning to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Students would become more motivated through active engagement and achievement by focusing on improving essential skills, such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and global connectedness. Allowing for distant access, social media also enhance the management zone and extend learning beyond classrooms and schedules. Because social media resources are varied and evolving, school leaders can establish an empowered and dynamic learning community of educators in which skills, knowledge, and thinking would be shared among them through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Leaders also could form their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) to meet the diverse learning needs of their schools, acquire and share resources, access knowledge, receive feedback, connect with both educational experts and practitioners, and discuss proven strategies to address teaching, learning, and leadership concerns. Furthermore, a school leader can create specific social media channels to collectively engage teachers, heads of departments, coordinators and community leaders. This would enhance the sharing of instructional ideas and strategies, policy issues, and positive aspects of school culture that promote community pride. In this way, a school would not only provide a healthy environment for sharing ideas and collaboration, but would improve the teaching and learning process and attract the enthusiastic participation of stakeholders in school affairs. Lastly, school leaders can employ social media platforms to engage the outside community in an appropriate manner to improve their institutional image and relationships with others. Thus, a vibrant social media strategy would provide an efficient means to manage content and communicate the most accurate, timely, and relevant information, based on appropriate levels of transparency. It would also provide a means of interaction between the school leaders and community stakeholders, enabling them to keep these community stakeholders updated on either the current or most important aspects or events within the schools, hence promoting community participations in school affairs.

Article

Administrative Efficiency and E-government in the Greek Educational Sector  

Georgia Prokopiadou

Public organizations in Greece have been facing the challenges of electronic government since early 2000. Information and communications technology(ICT) adoption in public administration is a necessity and an unnegotiable need, taking into consideration the internationally recognized benefits. The main aim of e-government is to shape efficient and effective provision of services through the effective use of ICT. The modernization of public administrations is the key to transforming and generally improving the level of customer care (front office) as well as the level of internal administrative processes (back office). Modern technology provides improved information tools for e-services with minimum cost that facilitate transparency and lead to a democratic and effective transaction system. In the school environment, an effective and efficient administration is closely linked with the provision and delivery of improved and interconnected services that offer its users (parents, students, educational staff, etc.) the opportunity of direct and reliable customer service, effective transactions with the school, and accessibility to available administrative information. The development and formation of interconnected and decentralized services not only almost eliminates geographical and time limitations but also enhances users’ rights in terms of access to information and participation in public administration. The execution of administrative and school transactions in real time through the Internet and interconnected services ensures a speedier flow of information, allowing for a more economical use of time and resources. Thus, ICT facilitates and enhances the efficiency, connectivity, and effectiveness of services while reinforcing users’ direct and reliable access to available information. Information is closely linked with economic factors and has a major economic value. Technological means and tools reduce notably the cost of the delivery services and provide for instant and efficient transactions. Thus, given that there have been limited public economic resources in recent years, ICT provides the means of developing innovative platforms for administrative transactions that improve efficiency and productivity while at the same time reducing transaction costs. Beyond its reference to the process of producing quality public (and hence educational) services with less cost, it also provides an indicator of how public resources are used, particularly the extent to which the public services delivered actually meet users’ needs, at least to a certain level of satisfaction.

Article

Social Justice Leadership, Equity, and the Digital Divide  

Anthony H. Normore and Antonia Issa Lahera

To commit to Brown v. Board of Education’s legacy of advancing social justice and democracy, it is necessary to look at practices (i.e., the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures) that promote the development and support of school leaders committed to social justice, equity, access, and diversity. Leadership preparation programs need to provide the knowledge base for aspiring school leaders to understand how they ought to respond to the changing political, moral, and social landscapes in which they live and work. Of equal importance is the curricular focus on interrelating social justice, democracy, equity, and diversity so that aspiring school leaders can identify practices that explicitly and implicitly deter social progress. Furthermore, these school leaders ought to be able to develop a knowledge base on how to respond to these injustices in their school leadership practices. As leadership development and preparation program personnel prepare new leaders, the discourse of social justice and marginalization is an important objective in the curriculum of preparation programs. Personnel in leadership programs have an opportunity to take part in discourse about how to shape the quality of leaders they produce for the good of society. To this end, researchers offer critical insights into the types of discourse, experiences, processes, and structures that promote the development and support of contemporary principals committed to social justice and democratic principles. Included in the research discussion are the tenets of social justice leadership, democracy, diversity and the digital divide, digital access, and digital equity.

Article

Writing  

Danielle S. McNamara, Laura K. Allen, and Andrew Potter

Writing is a crucial means of communicating with others and thus is vital to success and survival in modern society. Writing processes rely on virtually all aspects of cognition (e.g., working memory, motivation, affect, self-regulation, prior knowledge, problem solving) and are naturally embedded in social contexts. Social factors include writers’ objectives, audience, genre, and mode of writing. For example, the increased use of the Internet has rendered writing for informal purposes more frequent, and writing mechanics (e.g., deleting, spell checking) and search for information more efficient. Research on educational interventions to improve writing points to the importance of providing students with instruction and practice using writing strategies, writing practice with feedback (e.g., instructor, automated), and collaborative writing (including peer feedback). Given the inherent complexity of writing, it is important to help students learn how to write across various situations with varying purposes and demands. This necessitates reading many types of text genres (e.g., narrative vs. informational writing), writing frequently, and revising based on feedback. Since the turn of the century, there has been a substantial increase in research on writing processes, including methods to improve writing. However, there remains a substantial need for additional experimental work to understand writing processes as well as more evidence on which types of interventions are most beneficial in helping students to improve their writing. Feedback from both cognitive and sociocultural researchers should inform future revisions of the standardized guidelines and assessments with the long-term goal of developing a clearly defined set of standards for academic excellence in writing.

Article

Assistive Technology to Enhance Inclusive Education  

Dianne Chambers

Schools, teachers, and students are increasingly able to access and apply assistive technology to enhance inclusion within mainstream classrooms. To ensure that a classroom is truly inclusive, the teacher and other professionals involved in supporting children with disability using assistive technology require appropriate knowledge and skills to bring potential to reality. There are many successful examples of assistive technology successfully embedding into the practices of inclusive setting, but there is still some way to go to ensure this is a seamless approach. There are many benefits and difficulties associated with adopting assistive technology to support students with disability, particularly in developing countries. While the challenges may be great, the potential for assistive technology to impact significantly on the educational, social, and recreational outcomes for students with disability in inclusive classrooms is immense.

Article

Digital Culture and Qualitative Methodologies in Education  

Eliane Schlemmer

From a digital culture perspective, this article has as main objective to assess two contemporary qualitative research methods in the field of education with distinct theoretical orientations: the cartographic method as a way of tracing trajectories in research-intervention with a theoretical basis in the biology of knowledge, enactive cognition and inventive cognition; and the cartographic method as a means of identifying and mapping the controversies linked to the different associations between human and non-human actors with a theoretical basis in actor-network theory (ANT). With their own specificities, both methods have been fruitful in the development of qualitative research in the field of education, in the context of digital culture, and more recently, in the hybrid culture of atopic habitation, mainly because they also relate to equally consistent theories and aspects of human cognition, making it possible to detect traces and clues in the fluid associations between actors enhanced by different digital technologies (DT), including data mining and learning analytics. From the Brazilian perspective on the topic, this article approaches the experience of the cartographic method of research intervention as well as the cartography of controversies as tools for developing qualitative research in education. These different forms of the cartographic method have inspired the construction of didactic-pedagogical experiences based on theoretical approaches linked to cognition, producing inventive methodologies and interventionist pedagogical practices. These methodologies and practices, which will be discussed at length in this article, have been developed and validated by the Research Group in Digital Education at Unisinos University at different levels and in varied educational settings.