My vision for educational technology in my K-6 environment is to utilize technology to increase student agency. Student agency is defined as “the level of control, autonomy, and power that a student experiences in an educational situation. Student agency can be manifested in the choice of learning environment, subject matter, approach, and/or pace.” (Knewton, 2014, para.1). Research conducted by social-learning theorist, Albert Bandura discovered that “when students act on their sense of agency, they are more likely to engage in learning, take the initiative to be in charge of their learning, develop dispositions as active learners which extend beyond simply learning tasks, and position themselves as active rather than passive learners” (Vaughn, 2014, p. 4). I believe that effective use of technology in the classroom promotes the development of student agency.
A majority of students at my elementary school come from low income homes and the concept of taking ownership of their future isn’t necessarily one that is learned at home. Often their understanding of why things happen to them is left to chance or the feeling that they do not have any choices to make given their circumstances. Educational technology can help empower students based on these benefits listed in Integrating Technology in Education by M.D. Roblyer:
Technology can be a motivational tool. Integrated technology can be attention grabbing, can rid the learner of manual learning in order to get to higher level operations, can provide real world relevance, can allow for opportunities for student created material, can expand the audience of the learner for feedback beyond the teacher, and can support cooperative work (Roblyer, 2016).
Technology can be a seamless tool for learning. Technology allows students immediate access to a large amount of visuals in order to understand abstract concepts, access to the internet to connect them to more information than would exist in a classroom without technology, access to self-paced learning, access to accommodations for those with disabilities, access to time saving functions, and teachers have easy access to student work so they can provide just-in-time feedback (Roblyer, 2016).
Our students only know one world, the digital world. Digital literacy and digital citizenship lessons aren’t add ons in a classroom with educational technology. Technology has made it easier than ever to learn what you want, anytime you want. Our students deserve to know how to continue learning and contributing to our world, using technology, in a positive way (Roblyer, 2016).
The two predominant learning theories that most developments in educational technology have stemmed from are behaviorism and constructivism. The characteristics of technology use in the behaviorist realm might include: children learning through repetition, sequenced instruction, consistent reinforcement; and assessment of learning based on specific skills with only one type of assessment allowed (Roblyer, 2016).
The characteristics of technology use in the constructivist realm might include: children learning through discovery, collaboration, learning from experts, learning at different rates and assessment of learning based on global skills learned over time with the option to be assessed in multiple ways (Roblyer, 2016).
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.
Vaughn, M. (2014). The Role of Student Agency: Exploring Openings during Literacy Instruction Teaching & Learning, 28(1), 4-16.