Teachers and students, through K-12 to colleges and grad schools, in America and in other parts of the world, are all engaged in teaching and learning with the help of technology. Technology use has positively contributed to our teaching and learning practices. We write online blogs to express our opinions, comment on each other’s pages, use multimedia presentations to vivify our ideas. We can now overcome the physical gap and connect through the Internet with people that are far away from us, allowing us to study and learn together with the help of online classroom platforms.
This semester I am taking an online Java programming course. I meet with the professor and classmates online at least once a week. The course schedule is not synchronic so we don’t need to be presented at the same time, which is reasonable because we are from different parts of the world in different time zones.
You might think that texting is the only way for us to communicate. Actually no. We talk to each other by texts of course, but we can also recording audios or even videos of ourselves or of our computers’ screenshots. The professor would use a website called VoiceThread (a video site where you can share your screen while recording your illustration) to teach us new concepts or show us examples.
With the help of technologies like voiceThread, we can listen to the instructor’s words again and again, without worrying about missing information if we are interrupted by something else. Also the information presented is clearly demonstrated both verbally and visually, lowering the cognitive load and help students enhance the understanding of new concepts.
But there’s also concern about students’ lack of cooperation and collaboration. Although there are forums and the commenting mechanism is very handy and convenient, the classmates don’t usually feel motivated in participating in group work or helping each other. One major reason might be that without face-to-face communication in a real classroom, the sense of belongingness to a community is weakened. Therefore, outside of classrooms, the use of technology and social softwares should also be encouraged so that classmates can bond and connect with one another, not only as classmates but also as friends.