As a fully-online graduate student, the effects of learning with technology are easily noticeable. In the article, the authors mention that the effects of learning with technology come from interacting and forming an "intellectual partnership". I have become a "partner" with technology in order to grow and learn throughout my online learning career. I interact with tutorials, computer programs, videos, and other online tools.
The authors also discussed that the partnership with technology should stand to divide the labor. I'm a firm believer in worker smarter, not harder, and technology is a great tool for that!. Instead of taking time to go to the library, I can search MSU's online databases. Rather than ordering a textbook, I can purchase and download it instantly to my tablet. Instead of checking words in the dictionary, I can use spell check. It almost seems odd to think that there was a time when the best tool we had was the dictionary!
I'm a "young" teacher, so technology has always been a part of my education, so I sometimes forget how much of an impact it has on my life. In the article, the authors stress that the idea that the effects of technology are those that have an effect on the user even when they are not using the technology (spell check doesn't make me a better speller unless I am using it at that tim. One example of this that comes to mind is the cell phone. My first cell phone was a Samsung flip phone. It was very basic, so I was able to figure it out quite easily. After a while, I was able to use essentially every feature it offered. I eventually upgraded to a slightly nicer phone. There were a lot of "skills" that I learned on my first phone that I was able to apply to the new phone. With each upgrade, I was able to use knowledge gained from my previous phones to gain familiarity and fluency with my new phone.
People are scared of change, and the idea of online learning is a BIG change for many! People worry that online learning doesn't make us smarter. Doubters are left with a lot of questions. What about learning to write cursive? What about dictionary skills? What about using an encyclopedia? I think as educators, we should be conscious of these questions, but also keep the big idea in mind as well, which is preparing students to be successful in the world as they grow into adults. The truth is that there are many skills that we were taught in school that will soon be obsolete. I am not advocating that we do away with all of the basics, but what I am saying is that perhaps instead of spending so much time on outdated skills, we spend more time engaged in deeper lessons to grow true understanding.
Overall, I think online learning is a great tool, as long as the learner is motivated. In my experience, the quality of online learning has more to do with the student than the teacher; as a student, you get what you give! I have always been successful in online and traditional classes because I am highly motivated - I want to learn the content, I want to be a better teacher, I don't want to waste my money and time, etc... If a student doesn't have some sort of motivating factor, it is very easy to glide through and miss out on important learning. With the proper implementation and motivation, I think that online learning is great option for most students.
As an elementary teacher, I'm not sure where I stand on online learning for younger students, though. There is a social aspect of a brick and mortar school that I feel is immensely important, especially in the increasingly connected/disconnected world. (By that I mean we are more connected than ever, with cell phones and Facebook, but are becoming more and more disconnected in terms of talking with people and enjoying the company of another person.) Schools offer children the chance to form friendships and learn social norms through daily interaction, something that would be difficult to replicate online. I do think that some aspects of online learning should be started in younger classes, such as the idea of flipped learning. In my opinion, that stands as a good introduction to online learning and prepares students for totally online classes later in their educational careers.
excellent posts - your illustrations of the two types of effects and thoughts on online learning/change are well thought out and insightful.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!