“The number-one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.”
These are the words of Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft Corporation. Learn about many ways in which technology enhances thinking.
In November 2001, an exciting $700 million-dollar project began in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The public school system would be modernized and upgraded. Part of the renovation would take place in the Emerson School, a 120-year-old building—one of the first public schools built in the city. Slated to be removed and replaced with Smart Boards were four old green chalkboards still hanging on several classroom walls.
When the contractors removed the green chalkboards, though, they made an amazing discovery: They found a set of untouched blackboards hanging behind the green chalkboards, which contained writings and drawing of students and teachers in 1917. On one board, for instance, were notes in a treble clef, apparently from a music class. On another blackboard were illustrations of Thanksgiving pilgrims. On still another was a multiplication wheel—a teaching device of yesteryear that the then-current school employees did not understand. And the Pledge of Allegiance was written on one of the boards in pristine cursive penmanship. The renovators also found old report cards, as well as a newspaper clipping advertising “Women’s shoes, $3.00!”
Teacher Sherry Read reflected on the meaning of this discovery: “I think they [the teachers in 1917] left them there on purpose to send a message to us, to say, ‘This is what was going on in our time.’”
Today, the formerly hidden chalkboards are protected with acrylic glass. Controls are also in place for light and temperature exposure. With this care, the chalkboards could last another one hundred years. To see photographs of the find, visit Oklahoma’s Hidden Chalkboards of Yesteryear.
Indeed, 1917 was another era of classroom teaching. Just imagine if the students and teachers from that day were to visit your college classrooms today. How much culture shock would they experience? Do you think they would be able to catch on to your level of technology skill and awareness?
Clearly, the technological differences between 1917 and now are staggering. Today we have online classes, blended learning, and flipped classrooms, MOOCs, microlectures, and mobile learning. We have blogs, wikis, podcasts, clickers, cloud computing, virtual reality and gaming. And we have laptops, tablets, smartphones, 3D printing, eye tracking, and LCD touch boards. Then there’s the explosion of social networking explosion—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Google+—not to mention the invention of Apple, Microsoft, and the Internet, and, well, online dating!
It’s no wonder that colleges and universities today place a heavy emphasis on teaching and learning with technology. Consider the following statistics:
Why is there such a powerful thrust behind technology in education? How significantly is technology contributing to our ability to be critical and creative thinkers? After all, technology, by itself, cannot create critical or creative thinkers. But when
it’s used with the guidance of a teacher who understands how to use it, and by students who also have sufficient technology skills and resources, the teaching and learning process can be considerably enhanced. Consider the following:
The following graphic illustrates how different digital technologies can help faculty and students with critical and creative thinking. Notice the six main categories in the graphic. They correspond with Bloom’s taxonomy, discussed in the section on Patterns of Thought.
If you are thinking about taking an online course or even a blended or hybrid-format course, you already know that it will require some basic technological skills. And while you don’t necessarily need to be a computer scientist to take a class that involves a lot of online work, you should have a solid understanding of the basic technical skills needed to succeed. Understanding what these skills are up front will make things much easier for you as a student.
Mobile learning and social networking are both major players in college life and learning. You are likely quite adept at both! Consider the following statistics:
In an online learning environment, you’re probably going to do more reading than listening. You may do some of your reading in printed form—say, an assigned novel or textbook—but some of it might also be online in the form of a Web page. Reading online isn’t the same as reading in print, so it’s important to practice some strategies that will improve your online reading comprehension and speed. Some of the strategies described in the next tutorial will help you with any kind of reading you’re doing—not just online material. Tutorial #5 discusses the following:
Below are two additional resources that complement the online reading strategies tutorial. They will help you use the Internet to find scholarly material and evaluate Web sites for accuracy, relevance, etc.
Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.
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