The use of technological tools such as computers, iPads, and smartphones are beginning to revolutionize the classroom and the learning process, according to University of South Carolina education expert Dr. Edwin Dickey.
Dickey says technologies have a unique way of tapping into a child’s natural curiosity and inclination to learn intuitively, to learn by doing. “The promises that I see with the newest technologies are they are indeed intuitive. A two-year-old can figure out how to move pictures on a tablet by stroking with the finger, making them bigger because they notice when I do this with my finger this happen,” he says.
Dickey says that it is unfortunate that many teachers are still relying on the method he describes as “pre-digesting the lesson and force-feeding it to students.”
Dickey says, “Kids, what they’re wired to do is try something, see the result and learn from that result. Sometimes I worry that what we do in school is move them away from that natural learning style.”
Dickey, the teacher education director at USC’s College of Education, says great teachers allow students to construct their own knowledge and help bring to bear what they like and are strong at and learn through that method.
He says classroom instruction is evolving as we learn that students don’t all learn the same way or grasp certain concepts and principles at the same speed. He says the challenge for teachers today is to use technologies to expose students to a number of subjects, but at the same time letting students discover what fields pique their interest .
Parents can also be involved with their child’s learning with new technologies. Dickey cites a mathematics project that is being conducted by educational television station WGBH in Boston in conjunction with the global nonprofit Education Development Center.
“While the child works on the tablet, a parent listens to instruction in English or Spanish, explanations and suggestions for how to help or instruct their children.”
Dickey says such technologies did not exist 10 years ago.