Thursday, July 8, 2010

Introduction to the Blog

Since use of the Internet exploded in the late 80s-early 90s, there has been an extensive amount of speculation, talk and research regarding the place of new communication technologies in the classroom -- including the Internet, computers (and various programs), course management systems (CMS), video games, social media, and even blogs. These conversations (and in some cases debates) are not limited to the realm of higher education, they are being held in elementary school systems, middle school faculty meetings, high school conferences, online university director's meetings and numerous other education related organizations around the world.

For the past 20 years, educators have been encouraged and in some instances pressured to take up the banner of 'new media education' and incorporate new media communication technology into the teaching. However, research on the effect of technology in the classroom is divided. Some studies have shown that technology use in the classroom has a positive effect on learning outcomes (Schacter, 1999), while others show that the technology is viewed as more of a distraction (Noble, 1998;), and still others suggest that in some cases it doesn't have any impact due to limited access (Norris, Sullivan, Poirot & Soloway, 1998). Despite these inconclusive findings, educators are still being pressured to 'do more', 'use more', 'be more' connected (Cornell, 1999).

EDUtech Mission
Rather than merely capitulating and adopting the technology in order to fulfill the desire of administrators to have their schools be at the 'forefront' of the technological tidal wave, we need to critically consider two things:

  1. WHETHER new communication technology helps students learn (or is it merely another bit of technological 'noise' in their otherwise saturated lives?)
  2. And IF we are to use it, HOW can we use it to the best effect.
The EDUtech blog was created to explore these questions, while commenting on a range of issues important to educators who use (or want to use) technology in the classroom. Topics of interest include: reviews of new educational software, reviews of 'non-educational' software with potential classroom applications, tips and tricks for incorporating technology into the classroom in ways that actually help students (rather than distracting them), commentary regarding new media and education in the news and a range of other aspects of technology and the effect it is having upon education.

Rather than taking a technological determinist view, that technology changes the face of education -- I challenge you to change the technology to YOUR needs as an educator. We do not need to be passive users/adopters of technology, we can and should be active in the decision whether to use the technology and how best to use it.

Guest Bloggers
This blog is not intended to be the personal 'soapbox' of one individual, rather I encourage professionals from a range of educational areas (elementary, middle & high school teachers and administrators, textbook publishers, educational software designers, home school organizations and administrators/instructors in higher education) to participate in creating a dialogue. As such, I invite potential guest bloggers to contact me with their ideas.

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