The Impacts of Technology Integration

14 The Impact of Technology: Student Engagement and Success

Chloe D'Angelo

Chloe D’Angelo (chloe.b.dangelo@gmail.com)
University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Abstract

As the education system and workforce evolve to become more technology inclusive, it is important for students to keep up with modern digital trends while still obtaining a deep understanding of course content. Implementing technology into the curriculum provides instructors with an invaluable opportunity to enhance student engagement and academic success. Students are able to collaborate with peers using digital platforms, explore creativity through technological features, engage in higher-order thinking processes, participate in inquiry-based learning, synthesize information from multiple sources and establish a sense of online social presence. While implementing technology into the curriculum shifts the learning environment to being more student-centered, instructors play an integral role in guiding understanding, offering assistance and taking the necessary steps to ensure that students are present and reaching their learning goals. Overall, students and teachers have positive attitudes towards technology integration and feel that is has positive impacts on learner satisfaction, promotes engagement and facilitates academic success. Edmodo is an example of an educational social media platform that operates to enhance the learning process, allow students to become more familiar with technology, meet learning goals and collaborate with peers and instructors after school hours. It is one of the many technological applications that can be implemented into multiple areas of the curriculum to enhance the teaching and learning process.

Keywords: academic achievement, connectivism, curriculum, Edmodo, engagement, technology

Introduction

For many years, researchers and educators have placed much focus into understanding different methods and strategies for optimizing the student learning environment. As time progresses and the education system continues to advance, teachers dedicate ample time into developing new ways to communicate course material effectively and in a way that benefits all learners. With technology becoming more prevalent in modern society, methods for effectively implementing digital applications into the classroom has become a major focus in the educational community. This chapter discusses ways in which technology can be implemented into the curriculum to enhance student engagement and success. Focus is placed on how a specific technological application, Edmodo, can be used in the classroom to achieve learning goals.

Background Information

Information communications and technology (ICT) literacy has profound implications for social capital whether that be in the form of educational institutions, relationships between people in society, or universal communication around the rest of the world (Mignone & Henley, 2009). In an educational setting, technology can facilitate more flexible and democratic styles of teaching and learning, provide students with more autonomy and control over their learning, and encourage the development of cognitive competencies and understanding (Buckingham , 2003).  Incorporating digital technologies into the classroom can lead to profound advances in student engagement and learning which can ensure that students are keeping up with the demand of a technology based world. Instructors play an integral role in ensuring that students are engaging with technology effectively.

Links to Connectivism

While it is well understood that human interactions can promote motivation and deep learning, interacting with machines and digital artifacts can provide valuable outlets for learning as well. Researchers suggest that learning rests in diversity of opinion and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning (Wang, Chen & Anderson, 2014 ). If students were encouraged to share ideas through online networks and research what other students have shared about a specific topic, optimal learning would take place.

Technology in the Classroom

Numerous studies have supported the idea that implementing technology into the classroom facilitates meaningful learning, greater use of prior knowledge, hierarchical cognitive structure, elaboration, greater depth of processing and innovative practice (Hillman, 2014). This integration shifts the focus of the learning environment to being more student-centered and allows for them to develop autonomy and control over their learning (Mo, 2011).

When introducing a technological application into a classroom, it is important to consider whether the features of that technology are suited to meet task outcomes. It is preferred that the technology is designed in such a way that it is easy to use for both the instructor and students and possesses all the features necessary to promote student learning.

 Instructors’ Perspectives on Technology. Educators generally have positive attitudes towards the implementation of technology into the classroom. Educators feel that when they are provided with appropriate training on professional digital competencies, they can use technological tools in the classroom to enhance the learning process for students (Kirkscey, 2012). Examples of professional competencies that educators feel should be included in training are technology-handling abilities, curriculum inclusion, technology infusion into educational activities, providing evaluative feedback, encouraging collaborative exercises with technology and responding positively to the inclusion of technology in the classroom (Guzman & Nussbaum, 2009).

Students’ Perspectives on Technology. It is important to consider how students will receive technology when implementing it into into the classroom. When students perceive that the attributes of a given technology are engaging and beneficial to their learning, they are likely to adopt that technology and use it to enhance their understanding of course content (Sun, Lee, Lee & Law, 2016). Some features that make technology more appealing to students are flexibility, accessibility, ease-of-use and overall engagement. In general, studies show that students report high levels of satisfaction with the use of educational technology as it allows them to interactively engage in learning (Miller, Milholland & Gould, 2012). Students also believe that technology facilitates a greater understanding of course content, contributes to higher academic achievement and better prepares them for the technology-dependent workforce (Schindler, Burkholder, Morad & Marsh., 2017).

The Impact of Technology on Student Engagement

Numerous studies have supported the idea that overall student motivation and engagement in learning is enhanced by the implementation of instructional technology (Mo, 2011). More specifically, technology engages students behaviourally (more effort and time spent participating in learning activities); emotionally (positively impacting attitudes and interests towards learning); and cognitively (mental investment to comprehend content). Whether technology is integrated during class time or after school hours, students are given more opportunities to interact with instructors, collaborate with peers and engage themselves in the learning process. Specific technology examples that have been shown to enhance student engagement include web-conferencing software, blogs, wikis, social networking sites and digital games (Schindler et al., 2017).

 The Impact of Technology on Academic Success

Incorporating the use of several technological applications allows for students to participate in higher-order thinking, enhance communication, engage in collaborative problem-solving activities and discussions, critically reflect on content and expand digital competencies (Schindler et al., 2017 ). Studies have compared differences in academic achievement between students who have been taught with technological enhancement (i.e. lecture recordings and podcasts) and those who been taught without it. The results demonstrated that students who learned academic content in the technology enhanced classroom outperformed those who learned the content without technology (Carle, Jaffee & Miller, 2009 ). Performance was greater in the intervention group in all objectively graded assessments which include papers, midterm/final exam scores and individual assignments. Other research has demonstrated that implementing technology into the classroom enhances student motivation to understand and complete tasks (Mistler-Jackson & Songer, 2000).

Barriers to Implementation

Studies have revealed that instructors believe there is insufficient time in class to deliver content and teach digital competencies to students (Kirkscey, 2012). While many instructors feel they they have adequate training and are comfortable with teaching students to use technology, there is simply not enough time to do so. Other barriers to technology implementation within the classroom are limited technical ability of students, lack of funding, feelings of isolation when learning, difficulty connecting with peers, distraction with other applications and setting boundaries between class and personal life (Sun et al., 2016 ). However, with mindful pedagogical strategies, instructors can overcome these barriers and use technology to enhance student engagement and success.

Applications

Integration into the Curriculum

Technology can be widely integrated into several aspects of the curriculum. As discussed, numerous studies have emphasized that students and instructors hold positive views towards a technology infused curriculum. Students are able to benefit from the use of technology in most subject areas within the curriculum to enhance overall engagement and understanding of content. Instructors can integrate technology into class lessons, after-school activities, assignments and assessment methods. With the dozens of educational technology resources and applications offered, instructors can customize lesson plans that will not only facilitate higher academic achievement for students, but also prepare them for a technology-based workforce. One specific technological application that can be used in the classroom to enhance student engagement and success is Edmodo  (Edmodo, 2008).

What is Edmodo? Edmodo is a technological learning platform that can be used to facilitate online discussions, share content, distribute various forms of assessment and promote student-teacher communication (Purnawarman et al., 2016). It is a user friendly application that is compatible with various electronic devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Edmodo provides the opportunity for students to ask questions, review content, communicate with peers and have continuous contact with their instructors after school hours.  Teachers are also able to post information that may have been missed in class, send out announcements and upload academic content. Edmodo can be used for multiple subject areas to capture various curriculum expectations. It is recommended that this application be used for students who are familiar with the using technology (i.e. Intermediate-Senior divisions).

Uses in the Classroom Research suggests that there is a positive relationship between teacher immediacy and clarity, and students’ cognitive interest and engagement (Mazer, 2012). The features of Edmodo allow for students to feel a sense of connection with their instructor and fellow classmates after school hours. The application permits students to create their own profile, upload pictures and include a biography to increase the perception of social presence. It is also accessible in that students can log on from any location that has internet access and have immediate contact with their instructor and peers. Student are able to maintain social relationships with their classmates, interact on an ongoing basis, discuss topics covered in class and review course material. In essence, Edmodo establishes a sense of community among teachers and students from a distance. Achieving social presence through a technological application like Edmodo has numerous benefits for learners. Some of these benefits include supporting cognitive and affective learning objective, promoting engagement, facilitating intrinsic motivation, creating positive group interactions and enhancing self-efficacy (Aragon, 2003).

Overall, students feel that Edmodo enables them to feel connected with the members of their classroom and have their learning needs met even from home (Yunkul & Cankaya, 2017). Studies have shown that students’ perceptions towards Edmodo are positive as it is user friendly and facilitates effective communication and learning (Al-Said, 2015). Students also report that the application allows for them to feel connected with their instructor and peers while having their academic needs met. When analyzing the overall layout of Edmodo, users identify its striking resemblance to the social media network Facebook. Since many students in both elementary school and high school have a Facebook account, learners find the features of Edmodo relatable and easy to use (Cruz & Cruz, 2013).

Criticisms of Edmodo. Although integrating the use of technology into the curriculum has been shown to enhance student engagement and success, there are some limitations. While the majority of students report high levels of satisfaction with Edmodo, some report that the application is initially overwhelming due to its many features (Al-Said, 2015). There is also the argument that students are not given the opportunity to take breaks and temporarily disengage from their academics since the application sends frequent class notifications. Since this may result in some frustration for students, it is recommended that instructors suggest time frames for using the application after school hours.

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

As technology becomes increasingly prevalent in the education system and workforce, it is important for students to become familiarized with various digital applications. Integrating technology into the curriculum not only provides students with the opportunity to expand their skills and succeed academically, it also prepares them for the real-world upon graduation. While educational technology shifts the learning environment from being teacher-centered to student-centered, it is important that teachers carefully think through effective methods of implementation. Since there are hundreds of technological applications out there, each with distinguishing features, it is important that teachers guide students in the process of learning about these technologies to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. It is recommended that teachers also provide continuous feedback to students throughout their experiences with using technology.
Future recommendations would include developing more research pertaining to methods of effectively implementing technology into the curriculum. While this chapter has focused on the impact that technology has on student engagement and success, research could be done to understand methods educators can use to facilitate this process.  

References

Al-Said, K. M. (2015). Students’ perceptions of Edmodo and mobile learning and their real barriers towards them. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(2).

Aragon, S. R. (2003). Creating social presence in online environments. New directions for adult and continuing education, 2003(100), 57-68.

Buckingham, D. (2003 ). Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture , Polity Press, Cambridge

Carle, A. C., Jaffee, D., & Miller, D. (2009). Engaging college science students and changing academic achievement with technology: A quasi-experimental preliminary investigation. Computers & Education, 52(2), 376-380.

Cruz, M. B., & Cruz, S. B. B. (2013). The use of internet-based social media as a tool in enhancing student’s learning experiences in biological sciences. Higher Learning Research Communications, 3(4), 68-80.

Edmodo. (2008). Retrieved from https://partnerships.edmodo.com

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Purnawarman, P., Susilawati, S., & Sundayana, W. (2016). The use of Edmodo in teaching writing in a blended learning setting. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(2), 242-252.

Schindler, L. A., Burkholder, G. J., Morad, O. A., & Marsh, C. (2017). Computer-based technology and student engagement: a critical review of the literature. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 14(1), 25.

Sun, S., Lee, P., Lee, A., & Law, R. (2016). Perception of attributes and readiness for educational technology: Hospitality management students’ perspectives. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 28(3), 142-154.

Wang, Z., Chen, L., & Anderson, T. (2014). A framework for interaction and cognitive engagement in connectivist learning contexts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(2). Technology, and Organizations, 4, 127-145.

Yunkul, E., & Cankaya, S. (2017). Student’s attitudes towards Edmodo, a social learning network: A scale development study. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education(TOJDE), 18(2).

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Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018 by Chloe D'Angelo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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