What do our students think of Digital Learning?

The following posting is cross-posted from The Frisch School Blog. Enjoy!

Today is Digital Learning Day, a day devoted to reflection on innovative ways to reach our students using various technologies. As a part of this day, I went around the school taking pictures of various examples of digital learning that occur on a typical day at The Frisch School and I was blown away by the depth of the the technology-assisted learning that took place throughout the school, in the library, computer room, hallways, cafeteria, and classroom.

On the Frisch Wiki, Mrs. Tikvah Wiener, our English Department Chair and Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Studies, asked our students to reflect about how technology enhances or detracts from learning. Here are some responses.

One of the best responses:
"Technology offers significant advantages on two opposite ends of the learning process: learning the facts and seeing the bigger picture. The speed of computer processing and efficiency of the internet expedite the process of learning the basic information. The widespread use of Google, Wikipedia, and other search engines for educational purposes exemplifies this point. One area that I find is particularly aided by the brilliance of the search engine is in-depth research. When I began my research for the upcoming Model United Nations conference, the first thing I did was Google my country and my two topics. Instantly, I had access to previous United Nations resolutions, international law journals, statistics, and other useful resources that would take hours and hours to sift through without the help of Google.

Technology also enhances the culmination of the learning process: taking a step back from the information and placing it in a broader context. Forums and discussion pages (such as the wiki page we are now posting on) offer a unique opportunity for students to the see multiple perspectives on a single issue, a process and educational methodology known as divergent thinking. From personal observations on the Frisch wiki, I have gleaned that discussion through technology is often more effective than classroom discussion because communication through technology requires students to think more carefully before presenting their points of view. Thus, the responses of students tend to be more cohesive and eloquent. Additionally, the enticing nature of technology often provides respite from the normal classroom environment, pushing many students to become more involved in the discussion than they would be in a classroom.

Despite some irreplaceable aspects of the classroom setting, technology has the potential to enhance and expedite the learning process. The internet gives us the world at our fingertips, and the lightning-fast computer processors make obtaining information significantly easier to do than it was even ten years ago. To all those who point out the flaws in educational technology, I answer that this is only the beginning. The technology industry is all about innovation and development, so it is constantly evolving to take on new challenges. As more and more students pass through school systems enhanced by technology, analysts are gathering data to determine which methods do and do not work. The next step is taking the data and putting it to use to improve on existing technologies and create new ones."

"Responsibility extends beyond marking a line between educational purpose and “distractive” purpose. Kohelet teaches that knowledge in excess hurts more than it helps. One must consider the words of Kohelet 1:18 to perceive the truth of the assertion that excessive knowledge has a marked downside: “for in much wisdom is much vexation; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” One must draw a line between areas in which technology can truly aid in the learning process and areas in which technology can only detract from the learning process. Technology grants vast resources of knowledge, but certain areas of study—certain pursuits—must be marked as “vexing,” or in certain cases, outright unacceptable."

"Technology has become a resourceful tool that adds to student learning. With the help of technology one can instantly look up information to add to class discussions and watch videos to enhance the classroom experience. In addition, learning does not stop after class anymore; students are able to utilize websites (like our wiki pages) to have online discussions about topics learned during their school day. Students do not have to worry about having bad hand-writing because now with technology they are able to type up their notes and assignments. I can only imagine how technology will enhance our learning in years to come."

"Technology enhances learning. One example of technology's usefulness is for vocabulary. Instead of having a vocabulary quiz, in my English class, we sometimes have a picture slideshow project. We make slideshows with pictures that explain a word's meaning. After the project is done, we put it online and have an enjoyable and useful study aid. Another example of how technology enhances learning is the SmartBoard. For example, in Biology, Dr. Furman often puts a slideshow on the SmartBoard which depicts an experiment that a given scientist has done. . . Although cell phones are not allowed in my classes, some schools use a new program in which students can answer a question by texting to certain number. Overall, if technology is used in the correct way, it can create a better and more fun learning environment for students."

"The advanced technology today is great for doing research. With just one click on Google, a student has access to just about any information he/she could possibly need. I have used Google every day for research for projects and help with homework, and I use Gmail to email teachers or talk to peers. Other websites such as Facebook and Youtube have their advantages as well. Facebook can be used to talk to students about homework or other school-related topics. A perfect example of Facebook's helping with school-related activities happened during Shiriyah. Rabbi Pittinsky made Twitter and Facebook groups for each grade, so all the students in each grade knew what was going on with their teams."

"I dislike the accessibility of information. I believe it is making students lazy. For example, I can easily find the definition of any word without looking it up manually in the dictionary. This ease is a cause for laziness. Another example of technology's drawbacks is in the writing of research papers. One can easily find an outline of his topic online and copy it. In the past, it was much harder to find pre-made outlines and research papers. When I have a large research paper to do, I often find myself putting off beginning because I know I can easily Google my topic and find what I need, instantaneously. If I had to go to a library to do my work, I would realize how long that would take and get started immediately.... However, I am sure technology will only become more established in education and will be greatly beneficial in certain areas."

Below are slideshows of only a few of the various digital learning activities at Frisch today. Enjoy!