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Technology that can be used to enhance and support student learning comes in many different forms. This ranges from video content, laptop computing, technologies that are handheld, digital movie making and so on. All these forms have been in active use in the classroom and new forms of technologies for use such as podcasting are still in constant emergence. The various types of technologies for content delivery have different types of uses as applied in the classroom (Trucano, 2005). For instance e-mail and word processing have been great porters to communication skills; spread sheeting and database programs have been very useful in promotion of organizational skills; while software in modeling has promoted achievement of grater understanding of concepts in mathematics and science. In this light it is of great importance to consider how each type of technology used differs and what characterizes them as important educational promotion vehicles.
Different Types of Technology and their Educational Applications
Just as highlighted earlier above, electronic technologies that ore available in today's classrooms vary from simple applications that are tool based word processors being a good example, to online scientific data repositories and primary documents that are historical, to computers that are hand held, two way distance leanings and television channels that are closed circuit. Each of these technological forms plays different learning roles in regard to the students. Hence it would be rather important think about what kinds of technologies are being applied in the classroom in addition to what purpose they serve rather than just describing the impacts that these technologies have as if all of them are the same.
In this light two distinct categories come into view; Student can possibly learn "from" computers whereby in this sense technology finds essential use as the tutor and hence its main role is to increase the students' basic knowledge and skills (Miller, 2006). On the other hand students also learn with (using) computers whereby in this sense technology be comes a tool for application in achieving a variety of goals inherent in the learning process. Its purpose is therefore to serve as a resource tool which is inclined towards helping the students develop higher thinking order, creativity as well as research skills.
Technology which can be rather classified as students learning from computers has enabled use of Discrete Educational software programs (DES) like CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction), ILS (Integrated Learning Systems), and CBI (Computer Based Instruction). These software applications alongside word processing software have been widely used for the past two decades (Miller, 2006). According to research the use of DES by teachers does not only act as a supplement to instruction as it used to be in the past but is also used in topic introduction, while still providing a means for self study as well as offering opportunities where students can learn concepts that might be utterly inaccessible to them.
While DES has remained the most commonly relied on type of computer use in learning for students, more diversified computer uses in the classroom have emerged in recent years. This has been as result of educators identifying the potential that lies in learning with technology in regard to enhancement of students problem solving and reasoning abilities (Trucano, 2005). The above shift has been directed by the plethora of emergent communication and information devices which have now become increasingly accessible to student regardless to whether they are at home or in school. Each of these devices offers new affordances to students and teachers alike as they improve student achievement. Technology learning has therefore become the center for student learning due to its unlimited access in regard to school hours, school labs as well as specific devices.
A variety of ways exist in which the techniques, application and tools of technology could possibly support integrated and inquiry based learning aimed at engaging students in thinking, exploring, writing, reading inventing researching and problem solving in addition to exploring the world. This comes in if we consider the idea of technology being used as media which can be focused at in four different ways namely; media for inquiry-includes data modeling, online database access, online microscopes and observatories and hypertexts; Communication media-includes tutorials, graphic software, synchronized conferencing, simulations e-mail and word processing; Construction media-includes control systems, robotics and computer aided design; and finally media for expression-which includes music composition, software for animation and interactive video (Miller, 2006).
In review to the evidence that exist in regard to technological impacts on learning we can therefore say that educational technology has become a strong tool for complimenting what great teachers have been doing naturally hence extending and broadening their reach in regard to student experiences beyond what happens in the classroom (Lei, 2007). With the technological content and choices that have been ever expanding educators have expressed an unprecedented need in regard to understanding and formulation of a recipe for success which will otherwise involve the teacher, the learner, the content as well as the environment in which technology is employed.
In respect to the presence of technology the focus of education in taking care of student with disabilities has been much more enhances in comparison to how traditionally the had been locked out of education system. UDL (Universal Design for Learning) has in the recent past taken advantage of all the opportunities that students can gain from under communication technologies that have rapidly evolving (Trucano, 2005). This has enabled creation of flexible methods of teaching and curriculum materials which can reach diverse types of learners while still improving access to the general education curriculum by learners. To promote access to a general curriculum that is more improved in consideration to all learners with learners with disabilities also included UDL has been working under two guiding principles; Presentation of information using multiple media and format and Offering multiple ways for student to demonstrate and express their learning experience.
In this light there have been major concerns in regard to the major challenges that reading materials pose to learners with disabilities. With the use of technology a shift from use of text in print form to electronic form has been possible. Text in electronic form can be easily enhanced, modified, linked, programmed, searched and even made collaborative. In this regard text styles and sizes can be manipulated and modified to suit the needs of student experiencing visual disabilities. In addition to this computers have been fitted with read aloud from text based to speech translators which are also integrated with audio and video illustrations (Lei, 2007). Electronic text has also made available different and alternative formats in regard to reading materials which can be easily customized and structured to suit leaner's needs expanding both cognitive and physical access. New modes of expression have also been fostered through multimedia and revision. All of the above demonstrates how technology has been supportive in promoting achievement for learners with disabilities.
Despite the many positive ways in which technology has impacted on education a major concern with many educators still lie in the way education technology posses a lot of potential in excluding those who might not have easy access to it and of more concern those who might easily access it but are unable to use it. Regardless of whatever research may indicate in regard to how educational technology positively impacts student learning, technology could become of limited use in the achievement of the goals of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act if it as not readily availed to all students.
According to previous research, the challenge of helping student as well as teachers achieve literacy in ICT and the challenge of establishment of frameworks under which assessment of the skills of both parties has been evidently more acute in education institutions serving minority students in low social-economic status societies. While public debates in regard the digital divide have been more often centered on basic access to technology the gap has been found to widen a bit more when measurements are made on the basis of pedagogical practices in association to technology use in different schools (Trucano, 2005). Students from low socio-economic status who are financially disadvantaged have been found to be disadvantaged in regard internet access and use (more profoundly in the black community) compared to those from high social economic status.
It has also been notable that schools that serve students from poverty stricken communities use technology for remedial and more traditionally based memory activities in comparison to those serving wealthy communities focus more likely on expression and communication. A study conducted on a nationwide scale in regard to teaching practices and social economic status in the light of technology demonstrated that low socio-economic schools strongly correlate with the use of technology for 'remedial and reinforcement skills' whereas those in higher social economic status focus their teaching mostly on analyzing and presentation of information in front of an audience. In this way technology education contributes to educational disparities between the poor and the wealthy.
Other Impact of Educational Technology
The positive impact of Educational technology is quite not clear since its impact cannot be directly measured out. Nevertheless, an appropriate use will be crucial aid in speedy understanding of the topics by taught in class by the teachers' classes. Some of the computer programs such as slides and other set of programs that be used by the teacher to fast tract instruct instructions to students have proven beyond doubt to have improved education. Some studies have proven the latter through a general improvement in student's performance but the effectiveness of the technology in education has been low since technology as a whole is evaluated. Also in the other hand, the students use technology for various purposes therefore evaluating Educational impact alone could not give the correct impact. But rather will depend on various issues (Muir-Herzig, 2004).
The impact though has some challenges especially when undergoing some transition; the standards for gauging such new technology are not set and if set, it just take a moment before its effectiveness goes down since the technology is changing quite quickly. If a standard is set for example, the effectiveness will just apply to some few educational programs where the policy for technical studies will not be the same to the one in art and other sections of education. A number of researchers have been critical on the past educational programs and its teaching process but most of them have never addressed the issue of the new technology and its education processes and standards (Muir-Herzig, 2004).
Therefore it would be excellent if new technology was followed by educational technology in a close range so as to develop a curriculum that is according to the standards in implementation and promoting them new technology. The effectiveness of technology as seen in various science and mathematics courses, for instance some programs have been prove to be effective in teaching of modeling in mathematics. Technology has been on record to improve some communication language in languages among others.
The research on students use over internet for others things other than have been witnessed much in countries that have advanced their development in technology. The impact is such adverse that students take much of their time in non class activities on their computers, Concentration of students therefore reduces because the other issues be it social take of their commitment their ruining the educational capacity. On the side of the student, research shows that they are committed to the technology and that they believe it has positive impact in the educational life furthermore they have shown satisfaction over the reduction of workload by technological changes in education.
Reaction to Educational Technology
Generally the benefits of the new technology thus bring some motivation to both the teachers and the students in that the interaction becomes easier as well as delivery of assignment and other communications necessary between the teachers and the students. The use of technology frequently by the students forms the basis of their perfection in the advancing their usage of the computers and other ICT materials is a positive advancement. Though technology is important its use should be frequent and if possible made a mandatory in every class. Teachers get it hard to program his work on computer when students don't have instantly computers in class.
The use of computer outside schools has been under study but its effectiveness has never popular with only some few reported successes. Therefore learning outside school isn't a major advancement as far as education standards are concerned. However effective technology, the impact on young and vulnerable generation might just far from its benefits. The internet for instance has shown some negative impact on young children where gangs source information from them then do misuse them other effects on young children includes the nature of stuff in internet and other technology gadgets might take away concentrations of children through introducing them to pornographic materials (Krentler, 2005). Though the age of introduction is debatable, it is agreed that the effect is negative in young children therefore there is a need to set age or limit access of young children to the internet and moral destructive sites.
About the online students their study studies entirely depend on technology. They achieve their education through, internet therefore the impact of technology in their academic lives is obviously positive. The ICT increased learning opportunities therefore student's access learning more easily than it was before. However the use of internet in learning has some trends where by its effectiveness is evident male than female. Females are less active than their less active in adopting the new technology instead they drag behind. It is therefore hard to implement the education policy since its impact might benefit a single gender therefore having a negative effect another gender.
In the case of schools in the United States, more commitment has been given to the schools to increase effectiveness of the ICT. Schools have been engaging in upgrading their systems to stand the wave of the new technology (Krentler, 2005). Nevertheless few teachers have the interest of updating themselves to the new technology therefore reducing chances for quick advancement of the new technology. Though school invests much on upgrading their systems, there has been no tangle improvement in schools advancement therefore inviting doubt from people against the new academic venture. Given that the impact of technology is not that clear, question over the massive investment have gained popularity among other stake holders.
Some recent research shows that educational technologies could work out well if the purpose was well spell but the negative impact was not neglected especially on the improper use of technology. Teachers vary according their education background and their interest of the changes in technology. Whereas some teachers are quite familiar with new technology, their colleagues might not have enough training on the same if the do, they are ignorant. In that cases the integration between the tradition teaching curriculums and the new technology has received fame from various curriculum developers as they integration will allow a smooth transition to the new technology (Murray, 1999). Before all is done, empowerment of teacher over the benefits of technology is important. It is important that teachers understand the whereabouts of the educational technology through inquiry and on a program that aid both teachers and students to cooperate and reduce the work load but increase the output of the system.
Technology has changed the attitude of many that thought its impacts would be negative by proving some impacts beyond doubts. Researchers' belief that through instructions from the teachers, student will perform quite well considering availability of the latest updated systems. They argue that by the virtue of facts, student's work load is reduced by well coordinated instruction from the teachers therefore developing enough material though varies books and journal in the internet. The argument of teachers being conversant with technology is actually the debate that is able to streamline the implementation process of the research done.
For instance if all teachers accept and adopt the new technology, the students will definitely comply it since the teachers will there to aid them in understanding the system (Murray, 1999). Streamlining teachers for the changes will in hand with changing the format of the curriculum therefore all the education sector needs to fully implement the policy. If teacher are not given enough insight of technology they might as well tamper with the standards of education. Basically full implementation of the ICT in school will be beneficial to the education system but the impact on some schools might be negative since the equipment might not be well updated to merge the rest of schools therefore creating unnecessary judgment of schools.
The process of implementation of the program of upgrading education into education based technology should be held with a lot caution since the impact might be adverse if not handled with caution. Teachers play an important role in implement all the educational policy therefore they should be the priority to be consulted and in getting information. The instructions by the leaders to the teachers should be effective in consultation and implementation so as prepare a program that is acceptable by all the quarters in education sector. The effect of the new technology should be thoroughly researched and well updated since the technology keep on changing from time to time.
The standard of education can only by increased rather than falling but the bottom line that more involving research could lead to an excellent new technology curriculum. Both the teachers and the in cooperation can create an impressive development of curriculum and programs that improve the outlook of schools and the teachers, a system that encourages the use of powerful tools in education and teaching. The curriculum caters for programs that make students understand more than it was before. Therefore educational technology is important in adopting the new technology in a positive way but its usage should be thoroughly researched and programmed.