All learning is technology-enhanced learning

I’m participating this week in a series of workshops on teaching, learning, and technology. There’s a lot of talk about what you have to consider when you’re implementing a technology-enhanced learning project. We’re supposed to think about how the technological enhancements are contributing to student learning. It shouldn’t be just something you’re doing because it’s shiny, or because everyone else is doing it.

Strong Bad is using technology

But so I’ve been thinking about what counts as technology, and what counts as technological enhancement. Writing is a technology. Taking notes in class, writing on the blackboard — these are technological enhancements, and all the same questions apply. When I’m writing on the board, how does that enhance student learning? It shouldn’t just be something I’m doing because everyone else is doing it.

There’s a lot of talk about the flipped classroom model, in which lectures are video recorded so students can watch them at home, which makes space in the classroom to work together to engage more deeply with the material, in ways that used to be shoved off into homework. This is talked up as something new that “technology” enables for us.

But if you think about it, what was the first flipped classroom? I’d say it was the first time someone assigned a reading. This is great! It frees up so much class time for discussion! I used to have to tell my students everything I wanted them to learn, but now I can have them read something in a book (scroll? papyrus?) and come prepared for class! They’re doing work on their own and hearing other writers’ voices!

I’m interested to learn about new electronic platforms for doing this in different ways, but what’s really new here?

Posted in Teaching
2 comments on “All learning is technology-enhanced learning
  1. Dennis Baron makes a comparable argument–maybe that’s where you got the “writing is technology” bit–in his text “A Better Pencil”.

    If there is anything new, it is probably the amount of time it takes to learn how to use the new technology, perhaps? It hasn’t become institutionalized like writing, so staying abreast of new developments on the web and software takes time outside of class for teachers. But I agree, fundamentally, there’s nothing really new going on.

    • Daniel says:

      One important thing to remember, in my opinion, is that new technologies are also new to students. This is particularly clear in the case of “learning analytics” which use ICT methods to track students’ online behavior for assessment purposes. It’s really no different from traditional assessment, but if students don’t know they’re being assessed, it presents ethical issues.

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