Friday, October 04, 2013

Technology At School - Good or Should We Think Again?

Schools all over New Zealand, Australia, Europe and USA are doing it: making tablet computers compulsory for students, ordering smart boards, redesigning classrooms into e-learning centres. It’s cool. It’s trendy. It simulates the future workplace.

But is it for everybody?

By its very nature, e-learning is best suited to highly visual people, because of the wealth of imagery offered by the computer: text, pictures and diagrams, graphs, photos, videos. Please note that we distinguish the following types of visual learners: visual (pictures), visual (reading), visual (internal). While the former two styles are well suited to online learning, the latter one, which relies on forming images in one’s mind, is neutrally suited to online learning (i.e., it is neither enhanced nor limited by the use of computers).

Auditory (listening) learners can be accommodated if the online-learning course uses recorded speech and sound-effects (such as pings). Externally auditory learners who need to discuss the learnt material can be accommodated by using voice chat facilities.

Tactile learners are disadvantaged, although their need can be partially satisfied by touch-pads, mice and/or touch-screens. For the tactile learners, online-learning can be further enhanced by having to match pieces of a puzzle on the screen or match questions and answers using the drag-and-drop technique. Such students can also be encouraged to make their own memory aids offline, such as sculptures of molecules or board games depicting new topics.

The real challenge, however, comes with externally kinesthetic learners who need to move around and learn with their whole bodies. Because they rely on real experiences as the most effective way of assimilating information, online-learning is not ideally suited to this type of learner. To enhance their retention and enjoyment of information intake, the online-learning course should offer off-line projects to enhance the online sessions. These learners need to get away from the computer, move their body and DO something with the information they have just received via the screen. Learning sessions for these students will only be successful (and hopefully lead to understanding, skills, competencies, and knowledge) when they have physically experienced and/or actively ‘done’ something during the learning process.

Is your child visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic? Find out today.

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