Technology, Educational Psychology and the Changing Adolescent Mind
Hanna Lindstrom is interested in exploring the intersection between child psychology and technology. In her post below, she takes topics common to The Tech Scoop — social networking in the classroom and educational video games among them — to illustrate the debates going on in many of today’s wired schools. Readers interested in learning more about the psychological implications of digital learning can read Hanna’s features on a website dedicated to providing authoritative and objective descriptions of general educational psychology curricula for students.
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ducational psychology, or the study of how the mind learns, is providing valuable insight for American secondary schools. Teachers, legislators, school administrators, and even software developers are all putting this knowledge to practice in order to make the education system more effective. Many people are unaware how influential many of the nation’s leading educational psychologists were in the crafting of President Obama’s Race to the Top bill. Race to the Top brought funding to programs to schools, which implemented some of educational psychology’s latest discoveries. More can still be done, and technology will undoubtedly play a major role in the future.
Educational psychology studies learning and teaching. The publication Educational Psychology: Effective Teaching, Effective Learning includes the study of environments, practices, age groups, and teaching styles in the field’s main practice. Its goal is to find the best catalysts for student achievement. It also brainstorms new means to quantify student and teacher performance. This field heavily influences the U.S. Department of Education, as well as state- and district-level public education programs. Many of its findings and theories are supported by legislation, subsidies, and grant-funding.
Educational psychologists have emphasized time and time again that intuition plays a critical role in the learning process. Research has proven that educators are more effective when they engage with the natural preconceptions of their classes. This contrasts to the traditional pedagogical style, which involved delivering “sermons” to students, because student engagement is required. Newly published teaching handbooks broadcast this and other fundamental shifts in teaching method, emphasizing open dialogue and positive interaction over static lectures.
More importantly for technophiles, the field has also discovered that play is integral to learning, particularly for younger audiences. When a child can play with an academic subject, his or her ability to learn typically skyrockets. Concepts that were once agonizing and redundant for teachers become simple and easy to communicate. Perhaps more importantly, kids value the learning experience afterward.
This may seem like common sense to a parent, but preconceived notions regarding education have blocked many instructors from using play as an educational tool. Now, video game developers have designed educational games for kids so that they do not need to do so. There are plenty of examples both on the market and available for free download. The BBC, for instance, hosts an entire site that disseminates free educational video games. If the trend continues, educational games will become a significant, multi-billion dollar market before 2020.
Teaching publications have struggled to communicate a new set of best practices for instructors in the digital era. One such publication, a report by MIT entitled Using the Technology of Today, in the Classroom Today provides a number of different tools for instructors to use in the application of digital technology to the classroom. Instructors can look to this and other manuals and publications in order to advocate for tech in school.
Obama’s Race to the Top policy has funded a number of innovative programs, many of which use technologically advanced solutions to help the education system. It is a start, at least, for the states that have won funding thus far. These programs in turn have started to receive feedback on their programs. However, more funding will be needed if meaningful progress is to be made going forward.
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