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Debate: Should students rely on technology for their homework?

Today, students use ipods, ipads, phones, laptops, and different tablets to use the internet to help them with their homework. Don't know a word? Google it. Don't know the answer to this math problem? Use a calculator. And so on. Does this make sense?

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  • Nov 17 2012: I'm joining this conversation late, so I apologize if I'm repeating other's ideas. My understanding of teaching and learning took a quantum leap when I stumbled upon Bloom's Taxonomy (with Anderson's update) of cognitive activities:
    knowledge, (remembering)
    comprehension, (understanding)
    application, (applying)
    analysis, (analyzing)
    synthesis, (creating the highest level in Anderson's update)
    evaluation, (evaluating)
    Yes, I found this on the web.
    Most of the comments I've read only address the lowest level of cognitive activity - knowledge. Learning, to be of any use to the learner, at a minimum must get to the third level - understanding. To learn in a meaningful way - to develop the ability to use your own mind to manage your life and contribute to society requires the learner to actually exercise their own mind and develop not just knowledge, but understanding and the abilities to integrate new knowledge with what is already known and apply it to multiple different situations.
    Or simply put, using technology as a learning aid can be helpful *if* students are required to do more than just collect information or harvest the results of others' efforts. Teachers have to demand that their students get beyond collecting information by giving assignments and guiding classroom exercises that require students to demonstrate understanding and synthesis of new information.
    For example, a test question like "What's the state capitol of Maine?" signals students that all they need to do to pass tests is memorize facts. Questions like "Why does the US federal government have 2 houses of Congress?" or "What are some advantages and some disadvantages of having only 2 major political parties in the US?" signals students that they need to use facts that they've learned for purposes above and beyond just knowing something.
    • Nov 17 2012: Hey Louise,
      I really liked your final point about students using higher cognitive abilities than basic memorization (ie looking up on wikipedia). I agree that if the teachers learn to adapt to the technology appropriately we will get students who are better able to use creative thinking and problem solving to answer questions instead of just basic fact digging. I mean I think this could be easily compared to when calculators came out and people were worried about the fact that students wouldn't be able to do basic mathematics in their head, however that technology has allowed us to move past the basic drudge work and spend more time on the process of mathematical reasoning. Although I do sometimes feel helpless without a calculator, I won't lie... need to practice my times tables I guess.

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