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Mildred Randall

Professor James Vandermey

English 111

05 December 2017

Impacts of Technology in Higher Education

In todays world, technology is a huge part of everyones life. Technology of all different

types is relied on for basic tasks such as communication with one another, gathering and sharing

of information, a resource within educational environments, as well as in the workplace. In

higher education, different tools of technology are often utilized daily for a number of things.

Electronic devices such as both laptops and desktop computers, iPads, tablets, Kindles, and

cellular devices offer easy access to the internet. Most recently in higher education assignments

are being submitted electronically, students are sharing documents, and research is being

conducted and shared online. This internet accessible technology has become an imperative

factor to a students success in higher education. We have gone from paper and pens for nearly

every assignment, to typed documents shared on programs like Moodle and Google drive. We

have shifted to relying on email and text messaging as our platforms for daily communication. Is

this a good thing? Does it make learning more efficient for students? Can technology be aid in a

students success or failure? The main question to be asked is how can technology be used to

promote effective forms of learning?

I believe that technology if used correctly can make a class more interesting to students.

There are many positives that come from a student having access to the internet as well. It can be

a very useful tool to a student and aid them in success if they use it for the right things, and not
as a distraction. Professors can make use of electronics and technology as well, if they use it in a

way that can interest their students and make them more excited about the material.

Lets look at how technology can aid students. When students arent using technology in

the wrong way (as a distraction from class) it can be a tool to help them. Jack Mezirow also

wrote about efficient learning. His theory was called transformative learning theory. A

component of this is students and the way they behave. Mezirow said that students would see the

most success if they learned to be Autonomous thinkers. He defines an Autonomous thinker as

someone who works independently and takes action to get work done. In his piece Mezirow

states The key competencies for workplace preparation identified by the Australian government,

employers, and academics include analyzing information, communicating ideas, planning and

organizing activities, using mathematical ideas and technology, working in teams, solving

problems, and using cultural understandings. (89). Basically, Mezirow is including this bit

because previous to this quote, he is listing and introducing what he says is essential

competencies and skills. This is relevant to my argument because a point in Mezirow's theory

and a piece of that quote is claiming that using technology is important to and a factor to the

autonomous student, which in his argument, is the most efficient. Cathy Davidson adds to the

discussion and brings in the idea of Collaborative Learning. Social networking and digital tools

encourage collaborative thinking and thinking about pedagogical issues (Davidson). Mezirow,

and Davidson both acknowledge that technology is a factor that can be beneficial to students in

higher education. I agree with what Mezirow is saying and feel that electronics have a lot to offer

with the loads information that is available, and the tools students have such as online libraries,

paper correction services, communication channels not only to professors but peers, etc. I think

Davidson makes an excellent point too, electronics allow for collaborative learning and a perfect
example of this is how classmates can make a document on Google Drive and share it with each

other and all contribute to it and work together on it.

Technology tends to get a bad rap when it comes to use of it within a classroom. When

hearing electronics and classroom, one may automatically think of cellphones, and get a mental

image of students not paying attention, but instead just sitting on their phones checking their

social media. However, in a study that was conducted says otherwise. An article put together by

Alexander Laskin and Joseph Avena puts it this way

Among all the technological changes in the society, smartphones have become

one of the most adopted innovations. Yet, in the classroom a common response to phones

in students' hands is to ban them! This study uses Social Construction of Technology

theory to investigate whether mobile media can have a place in the classroom. Using in-

depth qualitative interviews, the study finds an unexpected paradox: Students rarely use

mobile technology in the classroom and, moreover, do not expect to use it in the formal

classroom environment, while outside the classroom they fully endorse the educational

applications of mobile media. (Laskin, Avena 2015).

In making this comment, Laskin and Avena urge us to look at this topic understanding that

electronics are not always misused in the classroom. Later in the article they offer more

information in regards to how it can be a positive thing. Rapid advancement of technology

offers new opportunities to students- students are given more access and interaction, increasing

their chances of achievement. (Zucker 2008). It seems that they have similar views to Mezirow,

in arguing that technology if applied the right way can be a useful tool to students and

complement their needs as students. Another quote that comes from the work of Laskin and

Avena is Technology plays an increasingly important role in the classroom. Instructors at all
levels use new technologies to provide students information and to enhance learning. This

connects to the point I argued earlier. Technology can be used by instructors as well to enhance

class and make it more interesting.

However it is important to not overlook the negatives of technology. Internet and the use

of technology in the classroom isnt always a good thing. Aside from the obvious distraction it

can be to a student, there are also other downsides. Technology can be misused by instructors as

well. It all depends on the way it is implicated. For example, a teacher could use technology and

make a PowerPoint to lecture the material but that doesnt catch the students attention or engage

them. Paulo Freire wrote a piece called The Banking Concept of Education. In this piece he

talks about the Banking Concept as an ineffective way of teaching that takes place, where

teachers/professors spew information at students who are uninterested, and completely

unengaged. The concept is simple, the teachers talk, lecture, and throw information at the

students who just listen. The Banking Concept doesnt challenge the students and leaves them in

an uninspired loop of memorization of the curriculum and material, and after all, the professor

cannot think for the students. Freire then proposes the idea of Problem Posing education. This is

said to be a better alternative and more efficient way of operating a classroom. The basis of

Problem Posing is liberation, it encourages students to think independently and to think deeply,

yet critically. This is where the use of technology lies in the hands of the professor in rather its

used in a way that engages students or not. Technology can be used as a tool to catch a students

attention and can be used as a different take on delivering the material. The students of this

generation have grown up learning how to use technology and adapted to a life built entirely

around electronics and thus will relate more to online activities and have a better understanding

for the use of electronics in their classes. An article titled Paulo Freires Relevance to Online
Instruction and Performance Improvement written by Sheri Kash and Joan Dessinger says it

best. Paulo Freire argued that learning should be conventional, accessible, and centered on the

experience of the participants. Freirean theory remains strong in adult education and has

implications for human performance technology applications in such areas as online learning in

terms of design, accessibility, and content, as well as performance improvement. (Kash,

Dessinger).

The internet, technology and the electronics that give us access to these tools are vital to

daily life now, more than ever. Electronics can be used as an effective tool by both teachers and

students in the classroom. Technology is going to be there, and be a part of life regardless, so it is

best if we recognize the best ways to use it and put it into action in and use it with our classes. It

is developing more and more with each day that passes, and we should keep ourselves up to date

with the programs and tools that are now vital to everyday life. A great way to do this is to keep

utilizing tools offered by technology and the internet in our classes to find the most effective

ways to complete tasks as students, and to keep students engaged as professors.


References

Davidson, Cathy. Chapter 8 Customized and Participatory Learning. Exploring Connections

Learning in the 21st Century.

Freire, Paulo. Chapter 2 The Banking Concept of Education. Pedagogy of the Oppressed,

1970.

Kash, Sheri, and Joan Conway Dessinger. Paulo Freire's Relevance to Online Instruction and

Performance Improvement. Performance Improvement, vol. 49, no. 2, 2010, pp. 1721.,

doi:10.1002/pfi.20129.

Laskin, Alexander V., and Joseph Avena. Introduction of Mobile Media Into Formal Classroom

Learning Environments. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, vol. 70, no. 3,

Mezirow, Jack. Chapter 12 Transformitive Learning: Theory to Practice. Exploring

Connections: Learning in the 21st Century, Pearson Education, Inc., 2016, pp. 8692.