Educational technology is a field of study that investigates the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the instructional environment and learning materials in order to improve teaching and learning. As we learned in the previous chapter, rich media and multimedia can be used to add significant value to your classes. Multimedia learning materials can offer a rich student-centered cognitive/constructivist learning environment which utilizes multiple intelligences. Text is generally replaced by pictures, diagrams and animations in multimedia learning materials, helping learners to construct their own interpretation of the information. This chapter will focus on the use of educational technology or learning technology as we will refer to from now on.
Leaning technologies (LT) may be defined as the use of any technology that enhances the learning experience. In chapter one we already referred to mind mapping, short videos, word clouds, drawings, blog, video and vlog, podcast, interactive methods, adaptive tests, discussion forums, PowerPoint, Prezi, websites, social media with peer review possibilities and questionnaires. Below you will find more learning technologies with examples of tools:
|Learning technology||Tools to use|
|Activating prior knowledge||Mentimeter|
|Formative testing||Forms (Microsoft, Google), Socrative, test application in LMS|
|Summative testing||Test application in LMS|
Application in LMS
|Working together online (both synchronous and a-synchronous) e.g. for developing content in a text’.||Wiki Microsoft Office 365 (word online, wiki, one note) Google docs|
|Quiz – playful testing||Kahoot|
|Demonstrate||AR and VR|
|Feedback and peer feedback||LMS|
|Evaluate, reflection||Popplet, Mindmap|
Selecting learning technologies
Learning technologies can be found in abundance. But what to choose in what situation? And what are the affordances? The use of the padagogy wheel might be helpful to identify what to use in any particular pedagogical situation
Using the checklist of Michelle Miller in selecting learning technologies:
So, there are many learning technologies to choose. But how to choose the best ones for your particular course? What will work best in your classroom or online course? And you should also bear in mind that just because a technology exists it doesn’t mean that you have to use it immediately.
Michelle D. Miller (2019) offers the steps to follow when choosing the learning technologies for your course:
- What you need to get started.
What do you want to use the technology for? What are your learning goals and learning outcomes? What are the most difficult aspects or areas for improvement of your education?
- Get a sense of the possibilities of learning technologies.
In former times the blackboard and a chalk marker was also a form of learning technology. Nowadays, of course, we think differently. With today’s technology you can think better in the direction of a digital whiteboard, but also of interactive quizzes, the student’s phone as a voting device and infinite other possibilities. Take a good look around you at what colleagues and colleagues at other schools use. You can use the wheel of pedagogy as a starting point for your search.
- Figure out your tech goals.
What are the expected results of its deployment? Concentrate on the main bottlenecks. What would you like to improve most? Use “backward design” (start with your final goals). Make choices regarding learning technology through the lens of ‘learning sciences’. Look at what we know about multimedia learning (Richard Mayer’s principles).
- Consider the costs.
Of course, the cost of the technology is also very important. School budgets are not endless. The costs must be in proportion to the learning output. Furthermore, there are many free technologies. Think about the privacy rules of today!
There are also technologies that save the student money. For example, by placing all learning material in the form of pdf and video in an electronic learning environment, so that the student does not have to buy books (but a laptop).
- Think about who has access and who doesn’t.
In principle, your learning technology should be available to every student of your study program. Not only in terms of costs, but also, for example, in terms of basic digital skills.
- Features to look for when shopping.
- Troubleshooting problems.
Using the checklist of Wilfred Rubens in selecting learning technologies:
If you’re going to use technology enhanced learning, at some point you’ll get to the point where you have to decide which learning technologies to use. Of course you will have a picture of your learning objectives/learning outcomes, learning content and didactic before you start selecting learning technologies. This checklist is therefore a tool within a much more comprehensive step-by-step plan for the development of technology enhanced learning.
A learning technology is a technology that has been specially developed to facilitate learning (such as aNewSpring, Canvas, Curatr, Brightspace or Feedback Fruits), but also a technology that can be used for learning, but has not been specially developed for that purpose (for example Mentimeter, Skype, Padlet or WordPress).
In the case of extensive learning technologies, such as Moodle, for example, you can also use this list to make choices regarding functionalities within that learning technology (think of the virtual classroom, the quiz, or the assignment-tool).
- Name of the learning technology.
- Provide a short functional description of the learning technology.
- What bottleneck/challenge(s) in the area of learning, training, and education must this learning technology help to tackle? What are the expected results of its deployment? Concentrate on the most important bottlenecks. What would you like to improve most?
- Which learning activities can you facilitate with this tool? Look mainly at obvious applications, not far-fetched ones. Examples of learning activities are activating prior knowledge, offering learners insight into the progress of their learning process, practicing subject matter, reflecting, searching for information, filtering, storing and processing, having learners write a document together, conducting a counselling interview, demonstrating skills or instructing knowledge. During workshops, I often present participants with a list of a large number of learning activities that can be made possible with learning technology. I make a distinction between education and workplace learning.
- What are pedagogical-didactical opportunities and possibilities of learning technology? What is the real added value? Also with respect to existing learning technologies. For example, it is better to use a tablet for biology assignments in nature than a laptop. And Facebook is an accessible medium for communication that many learners already use. Also ask colleagues for experiences.
- Are there also pedagogical-didactical disadvantages or limitations to the learning technology? Suppose you have doubts between laptops and tablets. And you want your learners to make and edit videos and reports, for example. A laptop then has more possibilities than a tablet. Or you consider using Facebook as a communication platform with your students. However, Facebook’s advertisements and notifications are also distracting. Also ask colleagues about experiences.
- How user-friendly is learning technology for learners and teachers? Pay attention to functionality and design (challenging, but easy to use). Can you use the learning technology with multiple platforms and devices?
- Is your target group able to use the learning technology? I am not just referring to affordability or ICT skills, but also whether the target group does not work within organisations that do not allow the use of such online tools. Can the learning technology be used by people with a disability?
- How stable and reliable is the learning technology, and what is the reputation of the supplier? Be cautious with Beta versions, and do not implement applications organization-wide if the vendor has only just entered the market.
- What does the use of this learning technology require from your organization? How easy is it to install/manage/upgrade? Can you use the tool without problems within your organization or does the application conflict with certain standards and agreements? Does this learning technology require a lot of professionalisation and support?
- What are the costs associated with using the learning technology? The need to provide a workshop is also a cost item. Just like the time it takes to use the learning technology.
- How does the supplier deal with data, privacy and security? The GPDR sets requirements for use. Is the learning technology ‘GPDR-proof’?
- Is there support among your team to use this learning technology? Consult with colleagues about which learning technologies you are using, and coordinate that. Learners don’t have to wait if they are going to use Socrativ as a student response system one time and Kahoot the next. You can try it out first, but then make a choice as a team.
- Would you advise your colleagues to use this teaching.
When using media rich content or learning technologies, it is important to ‘curate’ the content you are using. Curating content is a must if you’re a content marketer, social media manager, or small business owner. It is also a must if you are a teacher offering content to student.
You can do so on your blog, social media channels, email, online courses, pdfs, – anywhere you create content, you can curate it. Sharing fresh and engaging content helps you reaching your students in the most effective way, because it helps them become critical and independent thinkers.