Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Technology in Education: "What?" or "How?"

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Technology in Education: "What?" or "How?"

Article excerpt


Technology is being used to transform organizations and society but the change can be more profound when most individuals are technologically competent. Like the workplace, students in a classroom will possess varying levels of technological competence due to socio-economic and cultural factors that affect access, aptitude, motivation and need. Students learn at different rates and a peer tutor approach to technology instruction and integration can provide valuable instructional support for the teacher and emphasize how technology should be used in instruction rather than what it is.


The increased use of technology in the classroom since the 1980s involves both technology instruction and integration at all levels of education. Some educators have begun to question the effectiveness of technology instruction and integration. And what they have come to realize is that there seems to be more emphasis on the type of technology to be used in classrooms rather than how they should be integrated in instruction or taught as an individual subject.

This article advocates that once teachers identify the components of technology to be taught or the ones most appropriate to augment learning, as trained professionals they should also devise pedagogical strategies that they can use in their instruction to yield positive learning outcomes (Sandholtz, Ringstaff & Dyer, 1997). That is, they should focus on the "how" of technology instruction rather than the "what" (Valmont, 2000). Preoccupation with the "what" of technology may lead to anxiety regarding real or perceived technological deficiencies. This negative attitude may inhibit teachers' abilities to capitalize on the benefits of computer-enhanced instruction.

In this article peer tutoring is being promoted as a pedagogical strategy that teachers may use in technology instruction and integration to achieve a wider range of learning outcomes such as; subject content interest and mastery, improved technology skills, cooperation among students and raising self esteem. Specifically, this essay will examine: peer tutoring and technology learning, matching peer-tutoring models to technology goals, and the benefits and potential barriers of a peer tutoring approach to technology instruction/integration. Peer tutoring is a form of mentoring that is usually conducted in the classroom. It involves a one-to-one relationship and takes place over a short period of a few weeks (Fresko & Kowalsky, 1998; Whitman, 1998). However, its meaning in this article has been altered to reflect the diverse outcomes; skill building, cooperation and tolerance that a peer-tutoring approach to technology instruction and integration can yield.

Peer Tutoring Models & Technology Goals

Teachers should select a peer tutoring model that is suitable for their classroom. Models range from peer tutor as surrogate teacher, peer tutor and tutee from similar social grouping, average student paired with weak student, students with behavior difficulties serving as tutors and pairing by different gender and ethnicity. These models are supported by constructivist, classroom management and multicultural theories (Shapiro, 2000; Glaser, 1986 & Banks, 1995).

For technology activities such as introducing new software, one or two students can learn it and then discreetly instruct peers over a period of time (Potter, 2000). To avoid sending a negative message that some students are "technology experts" and must be consulted, every student in the class should be allowed to become an expert and teach their peers an aspect of technology for which he or she has developed competence (Potter, 2000). By taking this approach, students will view this exercise as a planned activity, mentally prepare for their role and over time develop positive self-esteem from participating in meaningful knowledge-sharing. Fresko & Kowalsky (1998) explain that the meta-cognitive skills of planning and reorganizing previous knowledge can boost tutors' cognitive skills. …

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