Processing Information in the Classroom with Technology

How many of us have attended a class where we enter the classroom, take a seat, and try to listen to a teacher or professor deliver content in a continuous stream of facts, quotes, names, dates, important terms and concepts for an hour or more? Then, to finish off the class, as we walk out the door, we are assigned some type of exercise in which we then are expected to apply this new information. Not only that, but five minutes later, and for every hour in the next few hours the cycle repeats, so at the end of the day, we as a student have been subjected to hours of new content delivery and very little time to question, discuss, synthesize, apply, and reflect. This is called learning.

According to the Cognitive Learning theory, brought about as opposition to the Behaviorist Learning theory in 1929, learning is a combination of our memory as an active processor of new information and that learning and memory is also linked to our prior knowledge. Learners receive information which is stored in short term memory, and as we make connections from our past experiences or new experiences, that content then becomes stored or linked into our long term memory in the form of images. The Information Processing Theory also suggests that learners can handle no more than 7 (on average) pieces of new information. This theory of learning and memory was popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Have you ever wondered why we have seven digits in our telephone numbers? This may explain it!

Technology is one tool that can assist with learning and information processing. Using mind-mapping software is one idea. There are many online tools that are available and free to use:

Bubbl.us is an online tool that students and teachers can use to create maps or use as a brainstorming platform.

MyWebspiration is another free on-line tool. This is an extension of the “Inspiration” software that is computer hosted. I like this tool for a few reasons. First, it is web hosted, which means students can use this anywhere they have internet access. Second, the ability to collaborate with others on the same diagram is also a beneficial feature that cannot be done with computer hosted software. And third, just like the computer hosted software, you can toggle between outline form and web form, thus allowing learners of multiple styles to benefit.

Wallwisher is another online tool that multiple users can use at the same time. I like this tool for brainstorming activities. It is super easy to create new wall, which has posts which can be rearranged by simply dragging and dropping.

Another idea for integrating technology into the classroom is digital note taking. There are many ways to take notes digitally, whether simply by just opening a text document and typing away, or maybe some new ideas:

Google Docs are a unique alternative. This tool allows you to save your document to the cloud, eliminating the need for external drives that are carried with you or having to retrieve the document on the device that it was created. Another great feature is the ability to collaborate in real time on the same document. Share your notes with a classmate, both you and your classmate contribute notes from the lecture, ideas, and questions. Also allows for chat, so you can discuss and reflect with a classmate quietly while the lecture is occurring without disrupting the class. Great features!

If you are an iPad user, SundryNotes is a great tool for taking notes. This program allows for text, drawing, doodles, etc… all on one piece of digital paper. What I really like about this app is that you can also record within a note. Using the record feature, you could record the entire lecture to refer back to while studying or completing activities. The new version of the app also allows for a portal on the internet, thus making your notes available to you wherever you have internet access. A great app for the iPad! This is worthy of a screenshot…below.


Another powerful digital tool that could be used in the classroom, especially in this time of budget cuts, are Virtual Field Trips (VFT) also known as webquests. Although I do not have much experience in this realm, I thought that I would share some resources with you.

WebQuest.org is a searchable data base of user created quests. It also contains guidance on developing and creating your own webquests or VFT.

QuestGarden is another great resource to find user created VFT’s or webquests.
Whether or not we all agree on the accuracy of the Cognitive Learning Theory, we can agree that digital tools will benefit all learners. Last year I had the opportunity to connect with a great educator, Kevin Honeycutt. Our conversation ranged from weather from our two very diverse locations to that of technology and the role it plays in education. He created this video, which I believe really points out issues that students and teachers are dealing with.

We, as educators, need to learn!

Resources:

Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atkinson-Shiffrin_memory_model

bubbl.us – free web application for brainstorming online. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://bubbl.us/

Google Docs – Online documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, file storage and more. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?service=writely&passive=1209600&continue=http://docs.google.com/&followup=http://docs.google.com/&ltmpl=homepage

Learning theory (education) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_theory_(education)#Cognitivism

QuestGarden Search. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://questgarden.com/search/

Sundry Notes. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://sundrynotes.com/

Wallwisher.com :: Words that stick. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://www.wallwisher.com/

WebQuest.Org: Home. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://webquest.org/

Webspiration: Online Visual Thinking Tool | mywebspiration.com. (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://www.mywebspiration.com/

YouTube – I Need My Teachers To Learn (Kevin Honeycutt ). (n.d.). . Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwOCY0nPDG0

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~ by Dean Phillips on November 21, 2010.

4 Responses to “Processing Information in the Classroom with Technology”

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to learn about Bubbl.us this week. I found it easy to use and motivating as I developed my learning ideas. I found my students enjoyed the challenge of setting up their own maps, I can see this as an excellent tool involving many process that will allow them to walk out of my classroom retaining much more than if I had given them all of the information. I find this an excellent resource that I would also highly recommend.

    • Do you know if Bubbl.us allows for collaboration? I have not used it in a long time and do not remember if this tool has this feature.

  2. Mr. Phillips,
    Thank you for all the resources. I agree with you that our students are expected to retain a lot of information without much time for reflection or discuss of what was presented. Personally, I can’t wait to try Google docs.

    • I thoroughly enjoy using Google Docs. I find myself using it more and more. Although it is missing some features of the stand alone versions of similar software, it has all the features that most users need.

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