How Can Technology Help? Or, Can It At All?

Technology is becoming more central to our lives. We are now able to do more with fewer resources. For example, we are now able to do more things with our phones than just placing a call. We have higher availability of devices and software to maximize our time and boost our productivity as long as we know how to do it effectively, of course. But I want to focus on how technology becomes particularly interesting in two specific and traditional circumstances we may be quite familiar with: being a college student and learning to communicate. Based on these two, let’s discuss what the involvement of technology implies and whether it is helpful at all.

Becoming a Student 2.0

College implies a heavy use of technology. Most faculty expect students to have access to a laptop and be able to turn in typed assignments. But how do students utilize technology? And to what extent are they aware of all the resources available to them? In a longitudinal study conducted in six CUNY schools and published in Educause Review Online, researchers interviewed students and went deeper into the student's experience with informations and communications technology (ICT). It is worth noting that quantitative studies can shed light on the use of technology and elucidate plausible conclusions to be made and considerations for further implementations. Yet, a qualitative study deals with a more complex and foundational aspect of research: the experience of the user. At the same time, the study aimed to offer implementations for schools considering both the emerging trends and students’ needs and constraints in access to the latest technology.

Can the e-Reader Teach How to Speak, Too?

In a very different scenario, parenthood comes with higher responsibilities and creating an environment where the child can experience learning is crucial. In a recent post, I talked about the development of language and its connection to cognitive processes and the generations of thoughts. But, when a child is learning a language, can the iPad, or any other technological device, have any implication or benefit? In a article published in the New York Times, Douglas Quenqua talks about parents reading to their kids with traditional books versus reading devices. Becoming fully engaged with technology in this aspect becomes pointless and does not benefit in great ways. It is the experience what drives the process and what helps the child develop and learn the language. Doctor Julia Parish-Morris explains how parents are more focused on the use of the technology rather on what researchers call “dialogic reading,” which is the interaction with the children and the relation of the story with his or her life. This is primarily what research shows has an effect on linguistic development.

So, Where Are We?

Each domain in life (childhood, adulthood, etc) requires a deep reflection on how technology can benefit the user and how its scaffolded use can impact learning, this deep thinking may lead to conclude that technology in some cases is simply not effective.

Nicholas Carr’s article entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid” evokes a question that can certainly be applicable to technology as well. Recently, for instance, I wrote about the use of technology in the classroom specifically. Each domain in life (childhood, adulthood, etc) requires a deep reflection on how technology can benefit the user and how its scaffolded use can impact learning, this deep thinking may lead to conclude that technology in some cases is simply not effective. In being a student, it is crucial for the student to be savvy in order to do things that years ago were a challenge for students. Learning a language is a whole different domain and requires a different approach. As Quenqua points out, learning a language requires a live conversation and such is already effective and does not need any technological enhancement.


ABOUT PABLO

I am an ePortfolio instructor working in New York City. I am also a student in the MA program in educational psychology at Hunter College. In my current position, I instruct students how to develop and build their ePortfolio to showcase their academic skills. I also collaborate in professional development seminars with faculty members from various departments on building the curriculum to teach the first year seminar experience. Read more about me.