In the Educational Technology Masters Certificate Program, we have been exploring the various means of implementing technology within the educational setting. Integration can take many forms, some for the better, some for the worse. This week we watched a TED video by Richard Cullata (2013) that opens a dialogue on this very topic. Similar to the TPACK framework proposed by Mishra & Koehler (2006), Cullata believes that we must use technology to inspire a new method of instruction that is transformative, avoiding the digitization of current and past practices.
Of the three main points discussed by Culatta is the transformation of teaching practices by utilizing personalized learning to enhance and support student achievement. To explore this idea further, I found two research articles covering the topic.
Personal Learning Environment Acceptance Model: The Role of Need for Cognition, e-Learning Satisfaction and Students’ Perceptions (Barrio-Garia, Arquero & Romero-Frias, 2014) explores the relationship between Personal Learning Environments and the Technology Acceptance Model and outside factors such as student satisfaction and perception of usefulness. In the study, the design was based utilizing web 2.0 resources as a personal learning environment to help students to develop academic and professional uses of services that are generally utilized for social purposes. The experience they designed required students to interact with a Facebook Group, utilize a Twitter hashtag, create a personal blog, and create academic and professional style entries using descuandrando.com.
There were multiple surveys to collect data from the students to measure various metrics including perceived usefulness, attitudes towards the system, improvement in content learning and development of communication skills. What the study found was that there is a close correlation between the perceived usefulness of the tool and the resulting improvement in content learning, suggesting that we must consult with students when choosing tools in technology to enhance and support learning. Researchers made explicit that educators must consider web 2.0 sources that are being used by students in the present. These mediums can be used to meet the needs of the students, unlike teacher centric platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle that serve the needs of the teacher. The researchers emphasized that this study was exploratory and that further research is necessary to make stronger conclusions.
The second article, A Learning Style Perspective to Investigate the Necessity of Developing Adaptive Learning Systems (Hwang, Sung, Hung & Huang, 2013) focused on the implications of student guided selection of tools in personal learning environments. Adaptive learning systems can be used to present personalized content for individual students or to guide them to learning by providing a personalized path (Brusilovsky, 2001). Research has proven a strong connection between adaptive materials and increased student achievement. In this particular study, 288 elementary students in Taiwan were given two educational computer games to choose from that covered the natural science objectives of a unit on plants. One is designed for sequential learners that prefer to learn “step-by-site”, the second was for global learners that prefer to explore topics freely to gain a larger mental map of the topic. Students were given a short questionnaire that made clear their learning style and were given a presentation on both version of the game. The study found that most students struggled to methodically select the game that best fit their learning style.. For those who succeeded in matching their learning style to the game designed for their style, the study noted increased academic outcomes for the material.. The implications suggest that it is critical to identify student learning profile and assist them in connecting with personalized learning materials that match their profile.
The consistent message through Culatta, Barrio-Garcia et al, and Hwang et. al, is the academic benefits of utilizing technology in a manner that allows for a personalized learning experience for students. When resources are selected with consultation of the student, technology can meet each individual student where they are currently at and provide support that can be catered to their needs. When implemented, this does not resemble the classroom of the past and present, but takes form as a new and exciting classroom environment that engages each student uniquely and dynamically.
Maker culture allows students to scaffold information and process these concepts in new ways that are exciting and engaging (O’Donnell, 2012). As teachers we must avoid creating maker projects that suit our needs. Instead, the focus should be on utilizing technology to meet the needs of the students. This is a partnership – students should not engage in this work unguided. We are stewards of information and it is our job to disseminate this knowledge in whatever means possible for students to be successful. Maker culture embraces the unique qualities of each and every individual, incorporating technology in new and exciting ways – ways that look like nothing we have seen before. THAT is exciting.
Barrio-Garcia, S., Arquero, J., & Romero-Frias, E. (2015). Personal Learning Environment Acceptance Model: The Role of Need for Cognition, e-Learning Satisfaction and Students’ Perceptions. Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 129-141. Retrieved November 8, 2015, from http://jstor.org/stable/jedutechsoci.18.3.129
Culatta, R. (2013). Reimagining learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Z0uAuonMXrg
Hwang, G., Sung, H., Hung, C., & Huang, I. (2013). A learning style perspective to investigate the necessity of developing adaptive learning systems. Educational Technology & Society,16(2), 188-197. Retrieved November 8, 2015, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/jeductechsoci.16.2.188
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf
O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.