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Is the use of technology in classrooms affecting students ability to learn?

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Gabrielle King

on 3 November 2014

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Transcript of Is the use of technology in classrooms affecting students ability to learn?

Is the use of technology in classrooms affecting students ability to learn?
Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of classroom activity, group work, and homework assignments. Students and educators are even able to engage through social media sites such as Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter. But researchers are concerned that now that these devices have been admitted into classrooms and study spaces, it is difficult to draw the line between when using technology is being overused and abused by students. Research in to the negatives and positives of using technology has been done in order for teachers and parents to understand how in-class use of technology may detrimental to the learning of others and may be affecting individual student.

McCoy, B 2013, 'Digital Distractions in the classroom: Student Classroom Use of Digtal Devices for Non-class Related Purposes', Faculty Papers, College of Journalism & Mass Communications, vol.71,

For this research purpose McCoy looks at the ways in which digital devices can interfere with classroom learning when used for non-class purposes. This literature is beneficial when looking at the ways students use digital devices in a classroom environment as it conducted a survey among 777 students across six different universities. This literature has also been built on prior research, for example Ophir told Thomas (2009) found that the human mind is not really built for processing multiple streams of information. While Foerde and Poldrack (2006) found people had a harder time learning new things when their brains were distracted by another activity. The principle questions that are raised include what impact does using digital devices in classrooms have on students learning? What are the perceived advantages and disadvantages of this behavior, and what policies might effectively limit classroom distractions cause by digital devices? Building from prior research, the purpose of this survey study was to examine how students use digital devices in classroom settings for non-classroom related purposes. This literature found that when students' multitask with digital devices in classrooms, research indicates it may hamper their ability to pay attention. This behavior, research suggests, has become more habitual, automatic, and distracting. Research also found that although digital devices allow users wider access to information and people, the research reveals that their use is causing more classroom learning distractions. This article will assist in the development and justification of my research question.
Kuznekoff, H J & Titsworth S 2013, 'The Impact of Mobile Phone Usage on Student Learning', Communication Education, vol. 62, issue. 3, pp. 233-252.

Kuznekoff and Titsworth argue that the use of mobile phones during class is affecting student learning. This study builds on past and current research by examining whether texting or posting to a social network has negative impacts on student note taking behavior and subsequent performance in exams. Participants of this study took part in simulated classroom conditions where they watched a recorded lecture, took notes over the lecture, and were then tested over lecture content. The researchers highlight that although not life threatening in the classroom, texting and posting to social networking sites produces many negative consequences for students and instructors. The principle question that is raised is, how does using mobile phones in class effect classroom learning? The goal of the present study is to ascertain the potential impact of texting/posting on students' note taking behaviors, and ultimately on student learning (p.247). This study found that students who were not using their mobile phone did 62% better on overall note taking. The findings of this study also provide clear evidence that students who use their mobile phones during class are going to perform worse in a number of circumstances as opposed to those students who abstain from using their mobile phones during class. This article will provide supplementary information surrounding the basis of my research and the need for more research on the use of mobile phones in classroom settings.
Thomas, K & O'Bannon, B 2013, 'Cell Phones in the Classroom', Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, vol. 30, issue, 1. pp. 11-20.

Thomas and O'Bannon argue the negative perception that mobile devices hinder learning and recognize that these devices are increasingly being recognized as valuable tools to assist in learning with the K-12 classroom, however many students and teachers are unable to take advantage of these technological devices due to a ban on mobile phones in 69% of schools (Common Sense Media 2010, as referenced by Thomas & Bannon 2014, p.11). This study examines the teachers' perception regarding the use of cell phones in classroom and more specifically their support for cell phone use in the classroom, their view of the usefulness, and their perceptions of the benefits and barriers to using mobile phones within the classroom. This study surveyed 111 teachers, and used a quantitative descriptive research method to investigate the perception of teachers regarding the use of mobile phones in the classroom. This study found that 25% of teachers supported the use of mobile phones in the classroom, 23% indicated no support and more then half were unsure. Findings also indicate an overall lack of significant difference based on age in the perceptions of teachers on the classroom integration of cell phones. This research will be useful for my research as it attempts to look at the positives of using a mobile phone in the classroom setting, and i contemporary up to date evidence.
Hermans R. Brakk V. J, & Valcke, M 2008, 'The Impact of Primary School Teachers' Educational Beliefs on the Classroom use of Computers', Computers & Education, vol. 51, issue. 4, pp. 1499-1509.

Hermans, Brakk & Valcke center their research on teachers' educational beliefs. This article supports the assumption that teacher beliefs are significant factors in explaining why teachers adopt computers in the classroom. Next to the impact of computer experience, general computer attitudes and gender, the results show a positive effect of constructivist beliefs on the classroom use of computers. Technology is seen as a golden key in facilitating technology-enhanced, student centered teaching environments (Hannafin & Land, 1997, as referenced in Hermans, Braak, & Valcke 2008). According to these authors, technology provides opportunities for greater access to resources and tools that facilitate the construction of personal meaning by relating new knowledge to existing conceptions and understanding. This study investigated the effect of teachers' educational beliefs on the use of classroom computers; a questionnaire was administered to a sample of 525 primary school teachers. Experiential evidence was found supporting the hypothesis that teacher beliefs about the practice of teaching are a significant determinant in explaining why teachers adopt computers in the classroom. These findings are in line with earlier research suggesting that teachers with a strong constructivist orientation are more prone to adopting tools that foster constructivist learning approaches (Riel & Becker, 2000, as referenced in Hermans, Braak, & Valcke, 2008). The findings of this study will be useful in suggesting the different attitudes of primary school teachers.
Fried B. C 2008, 'In-call Laptop Use and it's Effect on Student Learning', Computers & Education, vol. 50, issue 3, pp. 906-914.

In this article the author examines the nature of in-class laptop use in a large lecture course and how this use is related to student learning. Students involved in this study completed weekly surveys of attendance, laptop use, and aspects of the classroom environment. This article is beneficial for my project as it recognizes that there is a developing feud between those who want to promote laptop use and those who are resistant to it within classroom environments. The author of this study argue that there is limited research on the objective measures of learning or a non-laptop control group. As a result, it is difficult to assess how applicable the laptop research is to more generic classes, or how laptop use truly affects student learning. This research found that the students who used laptops in class spent considerable time multitasking and that the us was negatively related to several measures of student learning, including understanding of course material and overall course performance. This study will be beneficial for my project as it looks at the advantages and disadvantages of the use of laptops in classroom environments, however it is limited to only one device and therefore will not form the basis of my argument.
Wood, E. et. al 2012, 'Examining the Impact of Off-Task Multitasking with Technology on Real-Time Classroom Learning', Computers & Education, vol. 58, issue. 1, pp. 365-374.

The purpose of this article is to present findings on the impact of multi-tasking with digital technologies while attempting to learn in a classroom university setting. This article highlights that there is a consensus that existing and emerging technologies have the potential to expand the reach and effectiveness of current educational tools. However, recent research suggests that these same digital technologies can impair performance and distract learners if used inappropriately. This article questions our ability to engage in multitasking behaviors, more specifically digital devices within classroom environments. This study extended on current multitasking research by directly assessing the learning outcomes following off-task multitasking when learning from real-time classroom lectures. The main purpose of this study is to examine the relative impact that multitasking has with various digital technologies while attempting to learn from a real-time classroom lecture. The results from the study fund that when two cognitive tasks were being performed simultaneously there were decrements in performance in at least one of the tasks. The findings of this study were interesting as it suggests that having access to internet-based technologies may be too inviting for many learners. This article will be useful for my project as it provides an initial study of the impact of off-task multitasking for classroom-style lecture contexts, however it will not form the basis of my research.
Christensen, R & Knezek, G 2001, 'Instruments for Assessing the Impact of Technology in Education', Computers in the Schools, vol. 18, issue. 2-3, pp. 5-25.

Christensen & Knezek look at the ways in which the development of technology has had an impact on education. This study points out that significant resources have been expanded to place computers into schools over the past two decades, and furthermore that this technology integration and the association of these indicate positive student learning outcomes. The lead authors of this study have built their research on prior research, and surveys which include scales for beliefs and needs of the educators as well as classroom, use of computers. Data was gathered from over 1000 K-12 teachers from 13 different schools. The research found that effective technology integration at the classroom level ill then lead to a positive impact on student learning and achievement. The information in the journal article ill add to the validity of my research, however as this content and the findings are over ten years old, further research into the topic is required in order to have up-to-date and relevant information.

Mazer P. J, Murphy E. R, Simonds J. C 2007, 'Ill See You On "Facebook": The Effects of Computer Mediated Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Effective Learning and Classroom Climate', Communication Education, vol. 56, issue. 1, pp. 1-17

Mazer, Murphy & Simonds examine the effects of teacher self-disclosure through Facebook on anticipated student motivation, affective learning, and classroom climate. The researchers highlight with the rise of computer mediated social networks; there is less face-to-face communication. This study is relevant as it looks at the effects that social media websites, such as Facebook, and points out many advantages and disadvantages of students and teachers connecting via Facebook. For example, student may perceive a teacher's use of Facebook as an attempt to foster positive relationships with his or her students, which may have positive effects on important student outcomes. Teachers may violate student expectations of proper behaviors and run the risk of harming their credibility if they utilize Facebook. This study found that there was over 84% of students surveyed who provided comments that emphasized the teacher's strength through the use of Facebook to interact with students. For example: "She seemed like she would relate well to her students and make the classroom atmosphere enjoyable" was one of the responses from the study's survey. The results of this study contribute to prior research that suggests teacher self-disclosure has a positive influence on important variables such as teacher clarity, student participation, and affective learning. This article will provide supplemental information surrounding the basis of my research.
Summary of Literature Review Findings

Technology surrounds almost everybody, everyday; and individuals must understand that digital devices can have an impact on our learning, especially when used for non-educational purposes. Technology has the ability to have a profound impact on students when they are studying, and this is a result of multitasking whilst studying, using social networking sites in class and the use of technology devices such as mobile phones to send messages in class.

A lot of recent literature tends to predict that as a result of the use of technology in classroom settings there has been a demise in student behavior and student learning. Studies reveal that students who didn't use their mobile phones in class did 62% better on overall learning, and that students who use their mobile phones during class are going to perform worse in a number of circumstances as opposed to those students who abstain from using their mobile phones.

A recurring concept throughout available literature is the negative perceptions that using laptops in class is going to affect students ability to learn. Studies have provided details on this notion, and reveal that students who use their laptop in class spent considerable time multitasking and the use of laptops are negatively related to several measures of student learning. It has also been suggested that having access to internet-based technology may be too inviting for many learners.

Previous studies reveal that technology devices such as cell-phones and laptops can be distracting to students during class, and although some students may use them to take notes, personal experience has provide ample evidence that students often use their computers for reasons other then class-related purposes.
A common Sense Media (2012) survey of teachers found that 71% of teachers though technology hurt students attention span "somewhat" or "a lot". A further 60% of surveyed teachers said it hindered students' ability to write and communicate face-to-face.

Greg Toppo - "A Different Way to Think About Technology in Education"
This Ted Talk looks at our ideas of technology and how it will affect the classroom over the next few centuries.
For further investigative studies I interviewed a University student currently studying a Bachelor or Primary Education, this was done to get an idea of what future teachers believe is the best methods for teaching.

I also wanted to find out from a teachers perspective what the perception was on the use of technology devices such as laptops, computers, and mobile devices within a classroom environment.

This interview will be beneficial as it is information from a reliable source, however the information will be limited as it is the opinion of a primary educator (K-6), whilst my study is focused on a wider student demographic.

The interviewee gave consent to the recorded media being freely available online.
I recently completed two online blog posts, one was on the use of mobile phones in public environments, and the other was multitasking with technology in classroom environments. These two topics were the sources that gave me the inspiration to do further research on the use of technology devices within the classroom.

Links to these blogs are given below:



Amie H 2013, pers. comm., 29 October.

Interviewees response to questions asked on the use of technology within the classroom:

"I believe that the best methods for teaching primary aged students is face-to-face communication, this is going to benefit the student as it is an interactive style of learning and students are able to engage clearly and clarify anything if need be.

Technology within a classroom definitely has some advantages, however it also has drawbacks. When I was teaching a year 6 class I noticed that a lot of the students were becoming reliant on their mobile devices during the lunchtime break. I believe this kind of behavior will result in less face-to-face communication and therefore may hinder students ability to interact with others.

Being a primary school teacher is different to what I imagine being a high school or university teacher would be like. In primary schools it is the teachers who decides how the students are going to work, whether it be online or written work. Whereas in high school and higher education it is the students who have the ability to choose what kind of learning facilities they prefer.

I believe that technology is an important element in teaching, technology will definitely help students learn the skills they are eventually going to need to survive in a highly technological knowledge-based economy. However, it is hard to measure if the positives outweigh the negatives, but for my teaching style I will continue to use face-to-face communication for many aspects of teaching, as well as written work, with the addition of technology when necessary."
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