Is Technology Helping Students Learn?

I received an email from the editor of the blog Open Education pointing to a post they had written about a British study on students and technology. I’ve taken the time to read over the post and its conclusions, coming to my own views. Here is a quote from Open Educations blog:

To absolutely no one’s surprise, youngsters prefer interactive systems to passive ones. Therefore they love technology and yes, they do exhibit fairly strong basic technology skills.

However, the report indicated that these users are anything but “expert searchers.” In fact, the report indicates that younger users have real difficulty choosing good search terms.

Source: Student Shortcomings – Anything but Masters of Technology — Open Education

What I see everyday is that the students are told to search for information, but are not taught how to search. Yes, the kids today can use the technology, but have they been taught to use it efficiently? They have been given the tools, but not taught how use them. It’s the same as giving someone a baseball, a bat and glove, then telling them to go play baseball. Of course they can’t do it because we haven’t given them the proper training.

Media centers, or libraries are not teaching how to do research anymore. I had a lot of training in the Dewy Decimal system, how to use the periodicals and microfilm while I was growing up. Why aren’t we teaching our kids how to do a good online search or how to research something? If we want our children to do better, to get better grades, to be able to do better in the world we need to give them the knowledge of how to find what they need and how to sift through the data to get the best information.

It’s not about passing tests because you can teach to a test. It’s about teaching them how to read, how to write and how to use the tools to get the proper information to make informed decisions.

2 thoughts on “Is Technology Helping Students Learn?

  1. Hey Ray

    As a preservice teacher (a young one at that!) I try to use technology in my classroom as much as possible. I agree with you that is difficult to get kids to do good internet or technology based research. We do tend to take things for granted. But, I guess like most things, students needs modeling. My question then, is do you have any ideas of how to do this? Do you think step-by-step teaching is necessary?

  2. Thanks for asking….

    I believe that we need to teach the new digital methods of research, either as a class in computer lab or as part of a lesson plan on a subject. Actually both would work the best in my opinion.

    The class in a computer lab would be more involved and only related to research or how to use the available tools to do the research. On the other side, the class lesson plan could be something like “Millard Filmore, the first President to have a bathtub in the Whitehouse”. Teachers could use that lesson to actually work with the students on how they should research the topic, how to narrow the results and how to use that data properly.

    The whole time that the lesson is going on the students are not just learning how to research and use data to make a report, they are actually learning something about our history. 2 for 1……

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