Recently I had a conversation with a fellow teacher who quoted research saying that the students with more technology at their disposal are testing lower than they have in the past, and those students without are testing better than they have historically. Which got me thinking about Albert Einstein, who is supposedly known to have said something along the line as "I do not remember anything that I can look up". Which then got me thinking about our tests, and how students are learning new material.

The good old days of memorization is slowly fading with the introduction of new technologies, the click of a button I have the answer. Yes, I still need to modify and synthesize and make the answer my own, but memorization correct responses is a thing of the past.

So I ask, are we teaching our students a new style of learning, and experiencing knowledge, however assessing that knowledge using our old styles? If so, what can be done to bring them more inline with each other?

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I do not see it that way. I took an educational technology class in university, at the time they had limited control over what sites could be viewed and couldn't. So when we took the test we had full access to the Internet. Our class was entirely taught on the Internet, so our assessment was how we used the knowledge we gained or could access easily. Not what we knew.

If I taught students online, and gave them full access to the world of resources the Internet offers, then sat them down for a test and expected them to be able to remember the material would be unfair. In one hand I an teaching them to remember knowledge is a waste of time when it can be easily looked up, then test them on their ability to remember it.
What a Paradox we now have. Technology can be used to open the creative minds of our students to a degree never attainable in the past, yet it seems to some how be making them dumber.

Where does Creativity fall in Bloom's? Memorization? Hmmm...who referenced Einstein earlier? I guess I could look it up... (-:
I referenced Einstein, and still feel that education needs a complete overall if we are to assess how we can now instruct our students.
Like Wade, I can't let that supposed research stand unquestioned! It just doesn't sound like real research, the conclusions are way too broad.

Maybe you actually saw it and can share?

Until then, I just don't believe it.
The research in question is the reason for the original question.

I do not feel the research my friend cited has much merit, however I have personally seen effects of unsupervised computer use in the home and students ability to stay awake. Which would indirectly affect their performance in class.
I'll echo what many others have offered. Technology does not teach our students, but teachers can use it as an aid to reach learning objectives. In my opinion, technology is best utilized as a creative outlet for students to show what they have learned. Furthermore, it helps prepare students for the rapidly evolving global economy.

Having students build a diorama or make a webpage/PowerPoint can accomplish the same learning objective. With each method, teachers want students to explain, identify, demonstrate, etc. (choose your verb) a concept or idea. Both methods have their pros and cons, but when it comes to real world application students are much more likely, in the workplace, to use the skills they learned programming a webpage or creating a PowerPoint than they are making a diorama.

Traditional teaching methods and learning strategies should not be thrown out when technology is used in the classroom. The technology (computers, survey clickers, interactive whiteboards) should only enhance, not replace, tried and true pedagogical practices.
You are making the assumption that the tried and true practices actually work, when drop out rates continue to rise. Should we not start to question if we can actually do better.
We can certainly improve the way we teach. Teachers must always be open to growth, but it does not mean we have to throw out methods just because they aren't new. We can use new technologies to enhance the old ideas.

For instance, I'm currently directing a science fair at my school. The whole project was based on the way the teachers at my old middle school ran a science fair in the early '90s. We didn't have the Internet or computers beyond the Apple IIc, but the goal was still the same. The essence of the science fair - forming a hypothesis, researching, experimenting, and analyzing the results - has not changed. Students can do experiments not possible or accessible to middle schoolers 15-20 years ago (with present technology), but they are still learning the same concepts. In fact, several students are performing similar experiments to the ones I did years ago. The goal and the methods are still the same, the tools are just different.

I'm often a little too tech crazy and I have to remind myself that, sometimes, the methods of past teachers are also the most beneficial to students.
Ironically enough, I still see a lot of last century teaching (and learning) going on. In many elementary classrooms things haven't changed much since I taught a couple of years in the early seventies--except I had 38 kids in my 5th grade classroom, taught art and PE and ate lunch with and went out to recess with my kids.

I know there are many exceptional classroom teachers, I'm trying to make a point.
I teach at a Primary School in New Zealand where we have many Asian students. I have been following this discussion with great interest, as my own children, who have been taught until now in South Africa, are struggling to cope with the more modern assessment methods in New Zealand. Back home they were top students; here they are barely making the grade. Also, I have been reading a book on the progress of Asian students in our schools, 'Asian students in New Zealand' by Neville Bennet. The author makes the point that Asian students traditionally come from a conservative, historical teaching milieu. Yet in our schools they are the top achievers. Now I have not looked up any evidence to support this, but certainly in my school this is so. (I must explain that in New Zealand we use technology integrated in our teaching - as a tool - and our children are hardly ever assessed on their knowledge, but mainly on their skill level. Testing is a tool to inform our teaching, and not to rate the child. We make use of Portfolio's to showcase their learning, and more and more schools are starting to make use of ePortfolios.) The point the author has made, is that while these Asian students are coping well with the more modern approach used in schools, they also have the memory-based strategies. He reckons that the Universities, however, are still using the traditional approach. Many of our 'thinking' students are not making the grade at Uni. (The author does cite some references and studies to support this claim.) Once more, at University the Asian students are the ones excelling. Makes you think! Is it because the more traditionally taught students are more comfortable with the assessment methods, or is it because they have been learning better? Should we change the way we are assessing students if they may be assessed in the 'knowledge based' way in their future studies?
Tom - my thoughts on memorization and testing. I think memorization is a good thing. I seriously question the value of high stakes testing for discovering anything about learning. We all know that learning is not a number, that many students who practice for the test become good at testing, and show us a good number for their efforts. So where do we separate the value of having developed a great memory from the part of using it to spit out predetermined facts?

I teach my students that it is important to know where to find information, so we need to be good at "click of a button" searchers. But without a good memory, a fine tuned memory, students will likely not have the capacity to begin or complete the search, or to organize and process through the searching -- they will be able to fly all about from link to link, bookmarking to infinity, maybe never returning to their saved treasures.

I lean toward the answer to "what can be done to bring new styles of learning in line with old styles of assessing" to project based education, kids immersed in things to do that produce things to talk about and analyze and compare - to lead toward moments of synthesis. Then while the students are in the midst of their projects, teachers add new content, bring in the facts and connect project experiences. Then use a combination of teacher (testing) assessment and student output assessment (portfolios, debates, speeches, podcasts, videos).

Oh...and of course, stop the high stakes testing, stop punishing schools for societal problems. Let teachers teach and become involved in the overall learning process.



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