4 Education Technology Myths to Leave Behind in 2015

4 Education Technology Myths to Leave Behind in 2015


Myth 1: Wearable technology in education is a “thing of the distant future”

“Everything is to be done and everything is possible.” -Miquel Martí i Pol 

 Wearable technology’s role in education is closer than you think. In fact, New Media Consortium Horizon’s 2013 report claims that “wearable technology will be a common classroom staple in 4-5 years.”  According to Juniper Research, “13 million wearable technology devices were shipped in 2013 and expected to increase to 170 million by 2018.”

The increasing accessibility and application of wearable technology is making its debut into many industries, and education is next. Holding the belief that wearable technology’s application in education is “somewhere in the distant future” will have you finding yourself trying to play catch up.

Today educators have the ability to introduce video into the classroom, to use technology to flip their classrooms, and deliver lectures in unprecedented ways. With the introduction of wearable technology, the classroom will become a place of deep immersion in learning with attention to interactivity and a more hands-on approach. 

According to J.P. Medved of Capterra, the real benefit to wearable technology in education is “point of need” learning. He explains that with wearables, learning now becomes ubiquitous, even when students and instructors aren’t physically present in a classroom. He gives the example of its benefit of being hands-free technology with the practical application of allowing a service technician to study a blueprint of a machine while at the same time using both hands to repair it.

 This isn’t happening somewhere in the future. It’s happening now. The State University of New York Cobleskill is already exploring  “hands-on, experiential learning with first-person video capture” by experimenting with the Google Glass. Implementing the Google Glass in the classroom will give a paramedic student the ability to view an intricate medical procedure straight from the eyes of the instructor.

Instructors can replay these videos so that all students receive the ability to view delicate procedures from a first-person point-of-view lens. So instead of having to find 100 doctors for 100 students to shadow, this technology simulates the experience of being right behind the expert and watching his or her every move. In fact, it’s even better, because you get to see the expert’s exact view.

Another example is hypothetical, but fully possible: students in Miss Williams’s fourth-grade class are heading to the zoo for a field trip. Each student is outfitted with Google Glass to help with their learning experience. While walking around the zoo, students see many different types of animals. With the smart glasses technology, students are able to see facts about each animal pop up on their display, giving them an added educational experience.

It is here, and it is now.

Myth 2: It’s you vs. students’ technology in class

“Any teacher that can be replaced with a computer, deserves to be.” -David Thornburg 

Technology will not replace professors, as we’ve previously discussed. Rather, when used properly and to it’s maximum ability, technology can augment your teaching. It can make your class run more smoothly and more effectively, and really make your life easier while helping your students learn more effectively.

Educators must leave behind the mentality that it is you vs. technology in the classroom. That you’re competing with technology for students’ attention. It’s not the technology you’re competing with, but rather what’s behind the tech. And it’s imperative that you take the tools of technology and put them to better use than for Facebook in class. You can commandeer the students’ devices and put behind them the educational software to ensure your students’ learning and transform your classroom.

Instead of coming from a place of you vs. technology, look at it through a lens of you AND technology. Look at how you can use the students’ technology to enhance your classroom. Thousands of educators are using technology in innovative ways to deliver a classroom experience that has a lasting impression on students and is proven to improve students’ performance, such as flipped classrooms.

Technology can also make your life easier. Instead of students playing on Facebook, they can be answering questions on their phones that you can see in real time, which can then launch your entire class into a discussion and allows even the shyest of students to participate like never before.

You can use technology as a way to enhance your students’ learning rather than battle with them. Engage with them using the devices they already own and you can transform their typically distracting devices into tools of engagement. Top Hat does this especially well, allowing professors to engage students through their own devices to take in-class quizzes, participate in class, complete homework, generate in-class discussion, and more.

Myth 3: MOOCs will replace higher education and the lecture

“MOOCs will not solve the problem of expensive undergraduate education or educational scarcity in emerging economies. This is just a cruel myth.” -Diana Laurillard

 Top Hat believes this so strongly, that we have an entire ebook solely dedicated to why MOOCs will not replace higher education or the lecture. Many people have applauded the MOOC model and condemned the lecture, but the MOOC simply does not have the capacity to completely replace higher education institutions or the lecture.

As Diana Laurillard argues, “Education is not a mass customer industry: it is a personal client industry.” She explains that while there is certainly a plethora of free information on the Internet, in order for this information to be useful for educational purposes it must be curated by someone who can make meaning of the information and tie it to a learning outcome, and this work does not come free.

MOOCs don’t replace degrees
Not to mention, the way MOOCs have most often been used is not to replace a degree, but rather to complement it. According to Laurillard, research from many universities has shown that well over 60% of people who register for a MOOC already have a degree. So, in Laurillard’s words, “MOOCs do not provide an opportunity to discover how to teach first-time undergraduates successfully in an online format.”

Online-only doesn’t work
While the motivation for making courses available online is often to democratize education, it’s clear that the online-only model does not work to replace higher education. Not only can the MOOCs not replace the degree, but students are failing out of MOOCs at a massive rate. For example, Michael Sandel, a Harvard professor, recorded his course and made it available online. San Jose decided to run a pilot and allowed their students to receive credit for taking this course online. Half of the students failed.

Perhaps more than that, the performance of MOOCs is really just a one-way transfer of raw education material from one screen to the next. But as we’ve argued, the in-class experience is necessary for true learning and understanding. The MOOC model brings forward a one-size-fits-all approach to education, which as Laurillard explained, does not meet the fundamental goals of education. While MOOCs may be an efficient way of content-delivery, they are not an effective method of instruction and cannot replace the in-class learning experience.

Myth 4: 1:1 initiatives are something “someone else” is doing

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” -John Dewey

 There has recently been a massive boost in 1:1 initiatives (that is, schools providing or demanding students are prepared with either a laptop or tablet, or sometimes both). As we explained in a recent blog post, “The ubiquitous adoption of personal computing and mobile devices sets a new stage for the applications that could revolutionize the educational experience.”

The goal of the 1:1 initiatives are to provide each student with a mobile devices to equip them with the tools needed to learn and communicate in the 21st century classroom, and to put the power of technology into students’ hands by providing mobile devices for every student.

We’re seeing a huge increase in investments being made in education technology at the government level in many countries (especially the US), and ultimately at the institutional level as well. In 2014 alone, the United States’ Education Department spent 75M just on technology grants for 24 schools.

While the results are often mixed depending on the area and the implementation strategy, a study done in Texas found that 1:1 technology initiatives often lead to more engaged learners with better technological skills so much so that “after three years, low-income students in the laptop schools displayed the same levels of technology proficiency as wealthier students in the control schools (Shapley et al., 2009).” The initiatives also lead to cost efficiencies in other areas such as reducing the spend on paper and textbooks.

With BYOD becoming an increasingly widely expected way of interacting with students, the 1:1 initiatives will continue to be adopted, as it puts students at a level playing field to succeed in a modern classroom. Not to mention, the ancient hardware clickers are quickly becoming archaic technology and simply don’t measure up in terms of practicality or cost compared to the BYOD and 1:1 initiatives.

Top Hat is designed to connect professors and students in the classroom and to create a more engaged and active learning environment. If you’re interested in a demonstration of how Top Hat can be used in your classroom, click the button below.

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  1. 1
    Chef Danny Davies

    I use tech in the classroom and YouTube everyday that I can. I feel that if my students have the resources to use they will. Everyday I see student with their smart phone watching vines and YouTube clips of people. I want those clips to be of the food and dishes i’m trying to teach them. I call it Flipped learning here at Bromley College, but it is more than that it’s a type of Blended learning or imerisve interaction.
    The other day I set the students the task to make a fish filletting clip for our YouTube site https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuD4itBeC3vJHyw6prDvExQ and the results where good. What they learnt was how to fillet a fish. The next day we watched the clips back and all the students loved the clips and wanted to know when they could make their own. It’s not about the tech it was about them learning a new skill and being able to show this is a way that was real to them. Please see a sample of their work here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ7_YEQz03w Jay and Dom Fish Cutter.
    Next week we will do another skills and the videos will be part of how we do this. #futurechefproject @bromleycollege #BR6 @chefdannydavies

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