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Date Reviewed: September 6, 2018
Rosemary Luckin, editor
London, UK: UCL Institute of Education Press, 2018 (xxxv + 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-78277-226-2, $41.95) The overarching conclusion one might draw from this research-oriented review of current studies regarding education and technology is that we simply do not know enough about the effects of digital resources on teaching and learning. As the authors of this edited ...
Enhancing Learning and Teaching with Technology: What the Research Says
Rosemary Luckin, editor
London, UK: UCL Institute of Education Press, 2018 (xxxv + 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-78277-226-2, $41.95)
The overarching conclusion one might draw from this research-oriented review of current studies regarding education and technology is that we simply do not know enough about the effects of digital resources on teaching and learning. As the authors of this edited volume repeatedly point out, media reports about educational technology typically highlight negative findings and ignore positive associations. Technology champions and detractors rely primarily on face-value benefits or concerns in making their cases for or against educational use. Few studies have empirically considered the interplay among specific learning theories, educational contexts, embodied practices, and various technologies that might enhance learning. Without such research, we cannot draw defensible conclusions about the educational effectiveness of technology resources for formal and informal learning.
Organized in six parts – two that focus on learning factors and four related to educational challenges that might benefit from technological resourcing – the text is at times jargon heavy, particularly for readers unfamiliar with computer programming lingo or European educational policies and practices. A six-page glossary offsets some of this difficulty. Diagrams described as color-coded are printed in black and white, which complicates interpretation. Chapters are short (averaging seven or eight pages), so topics are covered succinctly with little detail to bolster analytic claims. Seven evidence-based learning principles are introduced (2-8) and referenced throughout the text, as are a list of nineteen learning approaches (see Table 2.1, 36). These frameworks serve to tie different case studies together. At the end of each section, the editor summarizes key findings in a bulleted list that can serve as a quick reference for readers.
The case studies provided focus primarily on school-age children and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects or language development, although some chapters address adult learners. Most helpful for Reflective Teaching readers would be the discussions of video production recommendations (chapter 2.4), location-triggered learning (chapter 2.5), gaming and unintentional learning (chapter 3.1), digital access and cheating (chapter 3.2), engaging learning environments (chapter 3.3), and the use of tablets and smartphones in education (chapter 4.2). For those interested in assessment and professional development issues, the last section of the text covers learning analytics and technology-enhanced coaching for teachers. Readers in institutions experimenting with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) might find the presentation of MOOC development priorities (chapter 5.2) useful as a discussion resource in policy-making conversations.
On a more general education level, the short discussion of self-testing and the value of asking students to indicate how certain or uncertain they are about their answers as a strategy to encourage self-reflection on learning (chapter 1.2) may prompt educators to consider whether right answers are sufficient measures of deep knowledge acquisition. Institutional assessment plans often seek to ascertain how well students are integrating and transferring knowledge from one context to another, which depends on deeper forms of understanding. Using this chapter to spark departmental or faculty-wide conversation about what constitutes deep, transferable knowledge could inform assessment design work as well as individual course grading schemes.
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
This short, easy-to-read book may inspire academic administrators to set up one-on-one relationships between teachers with the goal of increasing effective technology use within classroom settings.
The book may not translate directly to those teaching in theological education because it is drawn from the authors’ experiences in K-12 teacher education graduate programs. Its focus is on technology integration in elementary, and secondary contexts and teacher education, even though marketing copy on the back cover might indicate otherwise. Frequent clichés and repetitive text are also distracting.
A major conceptual problem in this book is the use of the idea of “digital immigrants.” In the first chapter, Alaniz and Wilson describe current students who have grown up with the Internet as “digital natives.” Their parents’ generation, who did not grow up with the Internet, is one of “digital immigrants.” This generational understanding of technology adoption does not advance the aims of the book. Technology integration in the classroom requires skill in both technology and pedagogy. Generational age is not a good indicator for teachers’ capabilities in these areas. In the last chapter, the authors attempt to nuance the generational understanding, but it is too little, too late.
Despite these problems, the book presents an appealing method of collegial coaching for improved technology integration in teaching. Alaniz and Wilson ground their methodology in education research on the value of collaboration and conclude the book with testimonial evidence of the effectiveness of collegial coaching. The heart of the book is a recipe for setting up a coaching program, supplemented by brief examples from graduate students who implemented programs in primary and secondary contexts. The steps for setting up this sort of program seem well-considered and backed by practical experience. While Alaniz and Wilson might have devoted more attention to intercultural issues in coaching relationships, they offer many helpful suggestions for considerations in selecting participants and structuring relationships.
Shifting from one-size-fits-all workshop sessions on technology to more focused coaching on technology integration is a strategy that may benefit all levels of education, not just the primary and secondary levels. Theological educators could have ongoing structured peer relationships that focus on integrating technology and educational resources into a classroom setting. Educational technologists and librarians in theological settings might utilize principles of coaching to help faculty utilize their resources in the classroom. It would be interesting to see this recipe for collegial coaching adapted to a theological education context, with greater sensitivity to intercultural dynamics in the academy and more nuance about generational facility with technology.
With noted cautions, this book is recommended for educators, particularly educational technologists, librarians, and deans, who might use insights from a peer coaching model to help faculty better use technology.
Date Reviewed: May 13, 2016
Motivating Teaching in Higher Education with Technology is a useful manual for both beginning and experienced instructors teaching at the post-secondary level. Jay Wilson is the head of Curriculum Studies Department at the University of Saskatchewan. He has extensive practical experience in the areas of technology with specific application to teaching and instructions. Edwin Ralph is a professor with the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan with mentorship in education expertise. As indicated in the title, this book is about “motivating teaching.” The authors contend that technology serves a supportive role for teaching and learning. For them, “technology, per se, will not improve poor teaching” and “incorporating technology will not change the quality of your content” (103). Beginning with the theme of motivational teaching principles, learning climate and management, and the distinction between teacher- and learner-centered pedagogies, the book then unfolds what this could mean, using specific applications of technology to teaching in subsequent chapters.
The authors claim that technology can enhance the quality of teaching significantly when it is being used with thoughtful design and intention. Major benefits of using technology include: making course materials more accessible and available for review (especially for English as second language students), creating frequent opportunities for interaction beyond classroom hours, and encouraging active, participatory learning. As for online courses offerings, technology allows the possibility of bringing in a diverse student body to enrich the learning experience.
The authors emphasize the importance of adequate preparation for any kind of teaching but even more so when teaching with technology. Many instructors tend to focus on the preparation of content and may neglect to consider the administrative side of teaching. This book draws the readers’ attention to the importance of good learning “management” in teaching. Attention to course details such as a clearly laid out rubric of grading criteria, class policies, and behavioral expectations for face-to-face and online discussions all contribute to the success of building a positive learning environment.
Further strengthening this book are the step-by-step practical suggestions it provides for putting together learning modules, constructing concept maps, designing learning activities, developing questions for student reflection, and crafting effective assessment methods. “Instructors must carefully orchestrate the integration of technologies with appropriate methods and strategies at key junctures to maximize learner motivation” (100). Having taught both hybrid and online courses for over eight years, I find the suggestions insightful and refreshing.
Since the book is designed to be a manual, its writing style is concise and does not contain as many real life examples as readers may like to see. Readers will need to do much integration between the principles articulated and application to actual situations in their own teaching contexts.
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2015
This edited volume of seventeen articles explores the impact of mobile technologies on the field of education. In the Foreword, authors Greg Levitt and Steven Grubaugh believe “we are at the forefront of a computing paradigm shift that will change how teachers and students interact with the world of educational connectivity, content, pedagogy, and learning” (xiv). Since the introduction of the first touch screen cell phones in 2007, mLearning [mobile learning] educators have been engaging the possibilities and potential of this technology for education. The editor argues that the capabilities of mobile technologies make “each student’s end user experience with mobile learning . . . much richer than it might be on a computer” (xiv). The authors represent a variety of disciplines including education, management, engineering, computer science, and instructional technology.
The volume is divided into two sections. The first offers fourteen chapters on the theme of pedagogical applications for the best practices in mobile technology integration (xvii). These articles explore a variety of platforms including e-readers, i-Pads, GPS devices, and various mobile phones and tablets. These devices give mLearning “two distinct features… [one,] it allows educational processes to take place anywhere and at any time; and two, it includes any kind of handheld device which is small and easy to carry and that uses a communication technology” (194). Several articles engage BYOD [bring your own device] programs, new literacies, digital storytelling, microblogging, web 2.0 and 3.0, social media, and flipped learning. They examine the impact of moving from static information to interactive and socially connected, collaboratively produced information with Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools. They argue that mobile devices shift pedagogy from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered one (124). The second section provides three chapters on the subjects of social applications and tools for effective mobile technology integration (xviii). The articles examine user-generated content and the social implications of mLearning for global learning.
Even though none of these articles specifically address theological education, mLearning will impact theological education in the near future. Seminaries and Schools of Theology have been slow to incorporate new technologies into instruction. However, as the text points out, the adoption rate of mobile devices worldwide has outpaced all past technologies including radio, television, desktop computer, and laptop computers (206) and theological education will need to address this societal change. The power and the challenge of mLearning is that it is constantly changing. What an author explores in an article today might be outdated by the time it is published. The epistemological questions and approaches of this text will remain valid for years, but the technological applications will only be valid for a few years. Designing a twenty-first century theological curriculum requires faculty to prepare students to live, work, and do ministry in an increasingly complex, technologically savvy world, and this volume is a good discussion starter.
Two important technological issues are highlighted for schools to consider: what is their capacity to integrate mLearning devices with their existing platforms, and will the school provide the device or ask students to use their own (197). For administrators and faculty who want to investigate mLearning, chapter 13 “Quality Education for Children, Youth, and Adults Through Mobile Learning,” and chapter 14 “The Changing Roles of Faculty and Students when Mobile Devices Enter the Higher Education Classroom,” provide an excellent introduction to the field, suggest implications for pedagogical practices, and outline advantages and challenges of this technology for learning. This book is recommended for theological libraries which support institutions with online education programs.
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2015
Using Technology to Support Learning and Teaching provides an overview of the key ways in which teachers and course designers are using technology to support teaching, learning, and assessment. As with the other books in the Key Guides for Effective Teaching in Higher Education Series, this text combines practical examples of techniques and methods with educational theory and research. The book thus contributes to a more general conversation about the effective pedagogical use of technology in a way that does not focus solely on describing the technological tools, but also takes seriously how “they might be best implemented” (2). For example, the first chapter outlines several influential theories (such as behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, humanistic theories, and connectivism), in order to provide a framework to underpin later considerations of various technologies for practitioners.
Beyond presenting the technology, the book stimulates further thinking and discussion about how technology relates to teaching and learning. Each chapter includes “Pauses for Thought” sections, “Case Example(s),” “Useful Resources (many of which are URLs),” screenshots and QR codes, as well as discussion questions in the conclusion. At the outset, the authors tell their readers: “This book isn’t meant to be read from cover to cover. We expect and would encourage you to dip in and out of it. To pick it up when you are considering various developments in your, or your colleagues’, teaching” (ix). Each chapter stands on its own; the chapters do not directly flow from one another, nor is there a comprehensive introduction or conclusion to the book.
Using Technology to Support Learning and Teaching comprises ten chapters, of which the first two respectively discuss learning theory and inclusive practice (disability and diversity); the next eight chapters cover the wide range of technology available for higher education, including a specific chapter on each of the following: the use of social media for collaboration and networking; technology for interaction; technology for assessment and feedback; podcasting and vodcasting; virtual learning environments; open source software; immersive online 3D environments; and future developments. What might otherwise be a daunting and time-consuming task, these latter eight chapters give teachers a comprehensive and jargon-free overview of the expansive array of technological tools now available, with many concrete examples, hints, and tips for how they may be used in teaching and learning. For instance, the chapter on assessment provides rubrics for evaluating student blogs and wikis. It also includes “how to” sections and tips for using multimodal feedback (such as video and screencapture).
In describing each technology, the authors present what technology has to offer educators. They note specific cautions and considerations (such as copyright laws), but their focus is positive. For example, the authors note how Virtual Learning Environments “have been criticised heavily for being inflexible, unintuitive, difficult to navigate. . . and even ‘boxy’”, but they continue to say that nevertheless, “we would like to emphasise that VLEs still have significant benefits for learning and teaching” (155).
The book is not limited to one context, but is directed toward teachers in any discipline, in any format of teaching (including traditional face-to-face classes, online settings, and hybrid-format courses). It will be of interest to anyone who seeks to utilize technology in higher education, or who is more broadly interested in critical reflection on the relationship between educational research and technology in practice.