About psuc18

Second year Psychology student at Bangor University.

Reflective blog…

Before coming to University three years ago I had no idea that blogging was an existing phenomenon let alone a tool that could be used in order to learn and express knowledge. However during the course of my degree I have been introduced to the concept of blogs and it has developed to become an extensive part of my learning journey especially during this particular module over the past few months.  

I must admit when I was told that this module would primarily consist of blogging and commenting on others’ blogs I was apprehensive as to what I would actually gain from the experience however I genuinely believe that I have learnt more during the course of these blog assessments than in any other module due to its flexibility and freedom to explore different aspects of learning. 

This module has encouraged me to participate in a vast amount of research in my own topic of modern technology in schools but also due to the requirement of commenting on my fellow students’ blogs I have come across research associated with topics that I perhaps would have never come across if it was not for this module. This has also given me the opportunity to view and consider others’ conflicting perspectives and opinions regarding a vast variety of topics. 

Due to participation in this module I truly believe that my critical writing skills in particular have vastly improved. I have also developed a skill in finding appropriate and relevant research to support the arguments that I make in my posts. Both these skills are absolutely essential in Science therefore these are two elements that I will be able to use practically when I eventually graduate from University and step out into the real world to find work. This is not something that is not necessarily taught in modules in which sitting in a large lecture room listening to a lecturer talk about a particular topic. 

Furthermore class presentations were required in this module. Although I was incredibly nervous about this aspect of the module I can truly say that they were not half as scary as they seemed. I feel as though my public speaking skills have vastly improved due to the weekly talks. Again this is a skill that I will need to have once I leave University and I feel that this module has given me a great opportunity in developing this skill and improving my confidence when it comes to speaking about a particular topic in front of a considerable amount of strangers. 

Thank you all for your feedback and for a great semester. I wish you good luck in your end of year exams and assessments!

To summarise…

In this blog I’m going to attempt to bring together the content of my last 4 blogs. The topic I have been observing is the use of modern technology in the classroom and I have concentrated on some different uses and effects that technology has had on classrooms and the pupils. In this blog I will expand on this by assessing how effective the introduction of modern technology is and whether I personally believe it is beneficial to students and pupils or whether learning should remain to focus on the traditional methods that have been used for centuries before modern technology was invented. I would firstly like to recap what I’ve previously covered (mostly for my own sake in order to remind myself of what I’ve been rambling on about for the past few months!)

In y first blog regarding this subject I considered previous research that has been conducted on this field. I discussed evidence that has been found to support the use of modern technology in education and also mentioned the studies that contradict these findings by stating that modern technology has diminished the use of traditional learning methods in schools and thus causing a major reduction in essential skills such as pupils’ ability to read and write basic words (Leising, 2003). 

I went on to investigate and discuss a more specific topic of the effects that video gaming may have on education; a controversial subject that has drawn many conflicting opinions. Again I went on to discuss the evidence that has been found by previous researchers that support and oppose the subject. However while I was conducting my research I gradually realised that although evidence that support the effects of video gaming has been vastly demonstrated, evidence against the benefit of doing so is much more obtainable.

In my next couple of blogs I have gone on to discuss the introduction of modern technology into classrooms of developing countries. As a nation we have grown and evolved with the existence of technology therefore it can be argued that having a computer in the corner of a classroom is expected if not essential in our society. However programs such as the One Laptop per Child and the Mobilink-UNESCO Programme have introduced the use of technology into classrooms of pupils who have not necessarily had access to a computer and therefore are not dependant on using them. I discovered that although these programs were not successful in each and every country they were established, this was mainly due to the programs not being exercised properly. When these programs were used carefully and correctly the results were beneficial on both teachers and pupils.

In my first post I promised that after researching the field and investigating both sides of every point that I decide to discuss in my blogs I would draw to a conclusion and state on which side of the argument of modern technology vs. traditional learning methods I would agree with…

Imagining my own experience at school and at University without access to a computer and the World Wide Web is absolutely terrifying! I could not start to imagine how I would manage to write an assignment without access to the internet. However, the thought of not being able to read and write is also just as hideous to me! I believe that in today’s society knowing how to search for something on Google is just as important as knowing how to read a road sign, both of these skills are essential. I have drawn to the conclusion that modern equipment should absolutely be introduced into classrooms and it is essential that children and adults evolve with the rapid developments that occur in technology. However I stress on the importance that this does not overrule the education of reading and writing lessons. I believe that both these skills should be taught in a coinciding accordance as neither is more important than the other. However if I were to ask my Grandmother which of these skills were most important she would undoubtedly say that having the ability to write a letter was far more vital than knowing how to look up a video on YouTube but we live in an era where this is not the reality anymore. Take this module for instance. Imagine enrolling in this module without having the ability of using a computer. It would be an utter nightmare and your degree would suffer as a consequence. Times have changed and we live in a society where modern technology is rapidly becoming more and more evident in our daily lives. Knowing how to master a search engine is just as essential as knowing how to use a dictionary or a thesaurus and therefore I conclude that modern technology should undoubtedly be introduced and used daily in our classrooms but I remain convinced that old-fashioned traditional methods of learning should not be scrapped.  

The One Laptop Per Child Programme.

Last week I wrote about 2 different programmes. I explained that one demonstrated the benefits of introducing technology into the classrooms of developing countries whilst I explained that the other was an example of how the introduction of ICT was not beneficial in the slightest. 

I mentioned that a programme called the ‘one laptop per child’ programme that was used in Peru in order to introduce the use of computers and technology to young children in the classrooms. The programme was arranged by the Ministry of Education in which each child was provided with a brand new shiny computer. They were provided with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills of children across the country however due to poor teachers training and other various factors such as out of date software, researchers found that the computers were not used and served minimal purpose in the classrooms of Peru.

When reading about this programme I did find that it has attracted many criticisms especially in regards to it’s impact on Peru, however I must admit that I was taken by surprise of it’s success in other countries. Critics argued that money should be spent on more ‘practical’ things such as clean water and medicine. I must say that I completely agreed with this until I heard of the impact it had on children in other countries. The OLPC’s mission is to empower the world’s poorest children through education and I have learned that the program has been introduced in countless countries other than Peru, including America, Afghanistan, India and Kenya. 

An example of the beneficial impact that the OLPC programme has had is evident in the schools of Afghanistan. An intensive empirical analysis on test performance of pupils in the country before and after the introduction of the OLPC program demonstrated that there was an average improvement of 21.33% across all students in standardised tests in a period of only two months. The study confirmed that there was a significant improvement in childhood education as a result of the introduction of the computers (Hirji, 2010). These statistics suggests that when used properly, the programme has the capability to provide several beneficial factors to both pupils and teachers and goes against the criticisms that were associated with the impact of the programme in Peru. 

Literature suggests that although the introduction of the OLPC programme is relatively recent therefore there has been a limited amount of time to conduct any longitudinal assessments on it’s impact on children, the findings from existing evaluations are largely positive in nature (Nugroho & Lonsdale, 2010). 

For more information on this program, please visit:

 http://one.laptop.org/ 

References

Hirji, Z. (2010). One Laptop per Child Projects. One Laptop per Child Foundation Learning Group. 7. Retrieved from http://wiki.laptop.org/images/e/e7/OLPCF_M%26E_Publication_(1).pdf on March 2013 

Nugroho, D., Lonsdae, M. (2010). Evaluation of OLPC programs globally: a literature review. Australian council for Educational Research. 4, 2-23.

Introducing technology into the classroom in developing countries – should we or shouldn’t we?

I am researching whether modern technology in education is beneficial to teachers and pupils or whether we should stick to the traditional and familiar methods of teaching and learning. I had never heard of the programmes I am about to discuss until I researched alternative forms of education used in schools that are being assisted immensely by the development of modern technology. I have previously stated that I sit on the fence in regards to the argument of traditional vs. modern education although I do strongly believe that traditional methods of learning should not be totally excluded from classrooms in favour of more modern learning methods. However I am investigating whether I can be proven wrong and that the introduction of modern technology can in fact outperform the traditional learning and teaching methods that have been successful in schools around the globe for hundreds of years.

The Mobilink-UNESCO program was launched last year and is used by Pakistani women that live in rural regions of the country and are unable to travel to the main stream schools which are located some distance away. The SMS-based literacy programme is used as a communication tool between the ‘pupil’ and teacher and is used in attempt to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Pupils use their mobile phones to send an SMS message to their teacher. After sending, the pupils receives messages from the teacher in response, which they carefully copy by hand in a notebook to practice their writing skills. The pupils do this from the safety of their home and with their parents’ consent (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

A five-month pilot project was conducted before the program was launched. The pilot involved 250 adolescent female learners who were provided with mobile phones and received informative daily text messages which they were expected to respond to (Unesco 2010).

The initial outcomes looked positive. After only 4 months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27% to 54% and the percentage of girls who achieved a C level grade decreased from 52% to 15% (Unesco, 2010).

The power of mobile phone technology appears in this case to be a successful tool for education by introducing new ways to support learning for rural pupils who experience limited opportunities to attend school.

This programme has recently been expanded and now includes a further 1,250 girls in rural areas of four districts of Punjab. (Unesco, 2010).

This is undoubtedly an example of how the development of modern technology has provided a significant facilitation to pupils’ education. However, on the other side of the world in Peru, the development of technology for education has not proven to be so helpful.  Due the introduction of a programme called the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ that was arranged by the Ministry of Education, a number of colourful and expensive laptops are gathering dust in the corner of classrooms across the country. They were provided to pupils with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills however without the proper support for training the teachers in how the laptops should be used, no repair and maintenance warranties and out of date software, the laptops are unusable and serve little purpose. In contrast to the Mobilink-UNESCO program, in this case technology has not helped to improve the educational experience of learners (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

Both of these studies demonstrate that while there are many examples of how technology is used to the great benefit of teachers and learners alike, there are also many cases in which it does little to impact educational processes and outcomes and supports my argument that traditional forms of teaching should not be completely dumped from classrooms in favour of impressive gadgets and colourful robots.

References

Smith, M. S., Winthrop, R. (2012). A New Face of Education: Bringing Technology into the Classroom in the Developing World. Brooke Shearer Working Paper Series. 1.

Unesco. (2010). Expnasion of women’s “literacy by mobile phones” program. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/en/literacy/dynamic-content-single-view/news/expansion_of_womens_literacy_by_mobile_phone_programme/back/11922 on March 2013

Should the teacher be replaced with an X-box console?!

As I have decided to discuss the use of technology in classrooms, this week I am going to consider the effects that video games have on children’s education. Could the use of video games actually improve a child’s education and cognitive development? Or are the critics correct in stating that they can be extremely dangerous and excessive play should by all means be avoided?

The impact of video games has caused enormous controversy amongst professionals and members of the general public especially when it comes to children and young adults. In 2004 a 17 year old boy from Leicester was charged with the murder of a 14 year old boy by mimicking a violent killing that was used to score points in a video game called ‘Manhunt’. The victim’s mother called for a ban on all violent video games however a spokesman for the publishing company for ‘Manhunt’ said that they refused to take any responsibility for any association between the murder and the game because the game was classified 18 by the British Board of Film Classification therefore it should not have been in the hands of a juvenile (BBC News). Although the murderer’s actions can not be justified it is hard for me not to point a finger and see that the video game undoubtedly had an impact on his deed that day.

Furthermore hundreds of video game and video player studies have demonstrated possible links to problems such as addiction, aggression, social development, violence and a variety of stereotyping and sexual morality issues. Kirsh (2003) found that violent video games influence aggressive behaviour whereas Anderson & Bushman (2001) found that violent video games increase aggressive behaviour in children and young adults, exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. They also found that playing violent video games also decreases pro-social behaviour.

However whilst I was researching the negative effects of video games I discovered a reoccurring theme – all the negative effects were associated to the violent content of the game rather than the actual participation of active play. Squire (2003) argued that the cognitive potential of video games have been largely ignored by educators and that gaming can suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media. 

I have discovered that there is a drastic limitation when it comes to finding research that suggest that gaming can be beneficial in education. Personally I can’t think why it would not work – If children enjoy playing video games and parents struggle to tear their children away from their computer and their consoles then why not take advantage of this by introducing education into gaming? This could develop a positive attitude to education, children would participate in active learning and the overall learning experience would be considered enjoyable rather than more of a chore!

I hope to find that more research will be conducted in this field in time to come.

References

Anderson, C. A., Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behaviour: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science. 12(5), 353-359.

BBC News. (2004). Game blamed for hammer murder. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/3934277.stm on March 2013.

Kirsh, S. J. (2003). The effects of violent video games on adolescents: The overlooked influence of development. Aggression and violent behaviour. 8(4), 377-389.

Squire, K. (2003). Video Games in Education. Games & Simulation. Retrieved from http://www.skatekidsonline.com/parents_teachers/Video_games_in_education_Updated.pdfon March 2013.

 

 

Modern technology in education.

I have chosen to write the remainder of my weekly blogs concentrating on the subject of the effects that modern technology has on education. I have based this decision on the notion that many researchers have and continue to conduct studies into this field and it is therefore constantly evolving. There is currently a vast amount of evidence supporting the use of modern technology whilst there is an equal amount of evidence in order to suggest that traditional methods are more beneficial. During the remainder of the semester I will discuss the argument for and against the use of modern technology before drawing to my own conclusion at the end of the term.

Previously I have stated that I sit on the fence when it comes to this argument! Whilst i think that traditional styles of teaching such as learning to read a book and write a formal letter are important and essential to our lives regardless of all the technology we have at our finger tips, I also realise that learning to write an e-mail and use a computer are also absolutely essential. 

Researchers (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin & Means, 2000) proposed that a number of features of new technologies hold promise for improving education by suggesting that new information and communication technologies (ICT) can provide an exciting teaching method based on real-life problems inside the classroom and provide tools in order to enhance children’s’ learning. They argued that modern ICT enables students to receive feedback on their performance, test and reflect on their ideas and revise their understanding. Brill & Galloway (2007) also found that the use of technology in the classroom had a positive influence on both teaching and learning. 

However a research conducted by Wenglinski (1998) found a negative relationship between the frequent use of school computers and school achievement that the children achieved. However it must be noted that they did find that certain uses of technology did have a positive effect on achievement. For example, they found that the use of computer games developed a positive rise in math achievement in fourth grade students.

Shad (2001) argued that there are much higher cognitive benefits associated with handwriting in comparison to typing. Bounds (2010) suggested that this is due to actively learning the letters, the letter shapes, idea composition, expression of that idea and developing fine motor skills. Beringer (2009) found that children with and without handwriting disability were able to write significantly more in a shorter amount of time when using a pen rather than typing on a keyboard thus demonstrating that handwriting should not be scrapped in favour of typing at schools. 

Due to the rise in computer use and typing at schools triggering a slight degeneration of traditional teaching and learning methods such as reading and writing Leising (2003) claimed that primary school teachers worry that children are recently having difficulties in writing simple words such as ‘thank you’ therefore this motivates me to further investigate this particular subject. As I have stated previously, there are many reasons for and against the use of technology in the classroom however I am curious to find out which method provides children and students with the most academic profit.  

References: 

Beringer, V. (2009, October 20) For kids, pen’s mightier than keyboard. futurity.org. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://www.futurity.org/society-culture/for-kids-pens-mightier-than-keyboard/#more-4909.

Bounds, G. ( 2010, October 5) How handwriting trains the brain – forming letters is key to learning, memory, idea. wsj.com. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.html

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

Brill, J. M., & Galloway, C. (2007). Perils and promises: University instructors’ integration of technology in classroom-based practices. British Journal of Educational Technology. 38(1), 95-105. 

Leising, J. (2013 January 30) The new script for teaching handwriting is no script at all. wsj.com Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323644904578272151551627948.html?KEYWORDS=handwriting

Roschelle, J., Pea, R., Hoadley, C., Gordin, D., & Means, B. (2000). Future of children, 10(2), 76-101.

Shah (2011, July 16) Why does writing make us smart ? huffingpost.com. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/16/why-does-writing-make-us-_n_900638.html

Wenglinski, H. (1998). Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton, NJ: ETS.

Parental involvement.

This week I have decided to discuss the topic of whether students and pupils benefit from parental involvement in education or should parents take more of a back seat when it comes to their children’s academic environment. It seems to just make sense that when parents play an active role in their children’s education there will be beneficial outcomes. 

Sacker et al (2002) examined the data from the National Child Development Study. Researchers followed 98% of all births in England, Scotland and Wales that occurred in the week that began on the 3rd of March in 1958. Furthermore 17,400 of the newborn babies were followed up when they were at the ages of 7, 11, 16, 23 and 33 years. They found that there was a significant relationship between parental involvement and positive effects on the child’s academic achievements. 

Sui-Chu and Wilms (1996) also argued that parental involvement correlated with positive academic outcomes. They conducted a study called The US National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) that was based on a sample of 24,6000 14 year old pupils from a sample that was drawn from 1500 different schools across the USA. Moreover they also went on to suggest that there was a connection between the pupils’ socio-economic status and the amount of parental involvement that they experienced. They claimed that lower class families were much less likely to be involved with their children’s education whereas higher class families would take more of an interest.

Sui-Chu and Wilms concluded that parental involvement made a significant contribution to children’s academic achievements based on the association they found in their study between the amount of discussion that took place between children and parents and a higher level of achievement. 

Nechyba et al (1999) summarised three possible assumptions in order to provide an explanation for the association between socio-economic class and the higher tendency for parents to be more involved with the children’s education. They argued that:

1. Working class culture places less value on education.

2. That working class parents feel they as though they are not equipped with educational abilities.

3. That there are institutional barriers (working class parents find difficulty in conforming to institutional values). 

Whilst considering these positive effects that have been associated with parental involvement and education I was interested in investigating whether involvement is being promoted in order to educate and inform parents. In the UK, several measures have been established in order to boost the connections between schools and parents however there is a lack of intervention programmes that promote parental involvement behaviours. 

I believe that further research is needed in order to highlight the importance of parental involvement behaviours such as discussions between the parent and child, working together on homework and essentially creating a positive attitude towards education in general. 

Further research is needed into programs that teach parents the importance of discussions between parents and children, helping with homework and creating positive attitudes towards education. I hope to see more research in this field in the future.

References:

Nechyba. T., McEwan. P., Older-Aguila. D. (1999). The impact of family & community resources on student outcomes: an assessment of the international literature with implications for New Zealand. Ministry Of Education. 

Sacker. A., Schoon. I., Bartley, M. (2002). Social inequality in educational achievement and psychosocial adjustment throughout childhood: magnitude and mechanisms. Social Science & Medicine. 55. 5. 863-880.

Sui-Chu. E. H., & Wilms. J. D. (1996). Efforts Of Parental Involvement on Eighth-Grade Achievement. Sociology of Education. 69. 2. 126-141.