Learning Technologies

-tech is always a tool-

Technology is always a tool- When I was an undergrad, I read one quote that stuck with me for many years; "technology is not good nor bad nor neutral." This means that technology is just a tool, the use that we, as learning designers/instructional designers/Educators/parents/ etc.... give to one particular technology is what can hinder or boost learning. I find it relevant to point out that- although we are situated in a time of acceleration of educational technologies, we ALWAYS have to keep in mind that the learner is at the center and that the use of technology has to be well thought out and designed for the best intention possible for those learners to achieve the desired learning goals.

Leaning Engineering provides an excellent framework to identify which learning technology is best for learners or not. By going through the systematic design process (see insights learning engineering process), I have learned in all my projects that by revising the literature on the learning sciences, designing "bites of the experience" to prototype, test, and gain feedback on natural potential learners, and by being systematic of the relationships and connections we are creating across each designed aspect, the decision/ or the conjecture testing on which learning technology would work best for that particular context or needs. Remember is an ongoing process.

I have learned that the use of technology in education is more for the sake of enhancing and supporting learning than for the sake of “innovation” or “trend,”....and we have to be aware of not creating more barriers to learning or human development, but instead, let's imagine and make possible ways that technology can minimize them to bring accessibility to all learners!

Some of the purposes of technology in education that I have read about and designed through my Master's program have expanded my understanding and imagination of the use that I can give to technology in the design of learning experiences (according to the learning goal) are:

The use of technology in making learning visible

There are some complex ideas that can seem abstract to learners, especially in STEM. Technology can afford to make these concepts that are "invisible" - visible, helping learners make deep connections and growing their mental models of a particular concept.

  • Some tools that technology provides are; interactive models, simulations, live visualizations, and role-playing. Through these technologies, learners can manipulate variables, explore possibilities, or even "play-pretend" to be part of a complex system to understand cause and effect relationships.

The use of tangibles that learners can manipulate

...Or, as Seymour Papert called them, "objects to think with"; objects that help learners grasp potent ideas and make them concrete and visible and construct knowledge - these objects can be either in the physical world or in the digital. World. When I learned this concept, it thrilled me. It is a principle that would guide my learning designs, especially when making choices about the technology by reflecting- Is this tool supporting learners to ask meaningful questions? Is the technology designed to make sense of concepts and ideas?

  • For example, in the telling science project, learners make sense of invisible aspects of science such as chemical bonds or electricity by interacting with various accessible materials. While experimenting and iterating with them, they are constructing an understanding of a complex "powerful" idea.

  • I am particularly interested in early childhood education, and young children are naturally curious and learn from exploring their world and manipulating tools and objects to make sense of the world around them. In future projects, I would like to use my previous preschool experience to design relevant and high-quality, age-appropriate learning technologies for early childhood and their caregivers.

Technology as a means of self-expression & creativity.

The use of technology as a means of expression, as constructionists envision. It affords learners to collaborate, and be agents of their learning by creating artifacts that are meaningful to them. Through developing ideas, researching, sharing, and being proud of what they made. It gives learners purpose to use the technology, as they own the c artifacts that represent their identity and that can be shared with a larger community of learners and/or with significant people.

I have particularly thought about Resnick's principle of designing for "low floor- high ceilings and wide walls."

For example, in the Curiously app, there is a component at the end of the experience designed with the purpose that learners reflect or recall their adventure in nature with their caregivers and create a digital or physical artifact together with the data they've gathered or with their imagination, they can create for example; a storybook, a song, a poem, a drawing, a minimovie a photo album, etc... Young learners can start editing an automatically created photo album, while more experienced learners can create their own artifacts from scratch. In order to achieve this, the learning technology must afford progressive ways of fading scaffolding.

The affordances that technology enables for collaboration and engagement

Designing through the lenses of a sociocultural perspective, learning happens when we share the experience with other significant people, cultural artifacts, and meaningful places. This perspective has been critical to me as a learning engineer and is no stranger when thinking about learning technologies. I believe that technology can be a great tool to afford collaboration, knowledge building, sharing ideas, and significant moments/insights, especially across people or cultures that are physically distant from each other, or support variation among learners and provide multiple means of expression and collaboration even on face-to-face interactions.

  • Two examples of how this idea was taken into account in my learning design projects are;

      • Sustainability Self-care workshop: Even though this was an in-person experience, the technology provided (Mentimeter and booklet) afford that learners had multiple means of participation and could share insights through live-interactive participation.

      • Curiously app: It was important for me, as a learning designer, to provide tools for families that live afar to share experiences and create artifacts through meaningful interactions. This app is thought to have a component of sharing with significant family members that might live afar through video calls and the construction of digital artifacts.