As part of the required reading for this course, we have had to watch and read reports by Vicky Rideout and Common Sense Media that studies examples of technology platforms used by children ages zero to eight. Rideout is interested in showing how prevalent media and technology are in the learning processes of students, as her studies have shown that “52% of children have access to newer mobile devices such as smartphones, video iPods, or tablets in their homes.” Other researchers such as those working for Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also seek to compile data pertaining to media use. For example, they surveyed 10,000 public school teachers asking them if they felt technology engages students in learning. The infographic below shows that only 5% of teachers disagreed.
According to an article on Edweek.org, the Federal Communications Commission reported that “97% of American public schools had Internet access in 2010.” Given that almost all schools have a level of technology in their classrooms, the question is how much of it is being used and to what exact effect on the educational goals of the institution.
As the Shakespeare quote of the title reads “Nothing will come of nothing,” I similarly believe that in order for teachers to greatly improve the learning of their students, they have to risk using more highly advanced technologies in the classroom. There are so many innovative programs to choose from that encourage students to be creative in their understanding of course material. One amazing tool now at the disposal of students is the NOBLE Virtual World project that is a 3-D virtual world computer program that allows students to learn through creating and collaborating with other students. As we have learned in this EDU130 course, collaboration and creativity are essential to children and learning. Agency is also extremely important, which is why these virtual games are so beneficial in helping students imagine certain concepts. With these new initiatives in programs like NOBLE, students can even reenact the moon landing or the signing of the Magna Carta on their tech devices. Performing such activities on a tech device is more memorable and less time consuming than planning an entire lesson plan around those subjects. Given that engagement is a huge indicator of a student’s ability to do well in a class, teachers should seek to boost their students’ level of engagement by discovering which technology platforms can enhance their learning in the classroom.