LearnBop Community Blog

Two Models for Technology in Education: How New Approaches Simulate A One-on-One Tutoring Experience

Posted by Zacc Dukowitz

Jul 31, 2013 1:53:00 PM

 

 When it comes to education, parents don’t just want to plop their child in front of a screen and check out.  Which is why some parents are understandably skeptical about the use of technology in education, whether it's used for learning at school or learning done at home.  These parents are worried about taking the human element out of learning, the part where real personal growth happens, so hard to quantify but so essential to growing up.  Without a live person to learn from, they worry, the only thing that could be happening through the use of technology is rote memorization.  

But there are two models for technology in education.  The new model emphasizes engagement and independent thinking, using technology to push students to learn how to think for themselves.

In the old model of using tech in learning, students are shown a skill, the particular education technology helps them drill the skill, and then they reproduce the skill, ad nauseam.  The obvious problem with this model is that no thinking is required.  Instead of educating children, it turns them into computing machines, just like the machines from which they are learning.

However, new educational programs use technology to break the old mould for tech in learning by challenging students to find the answers to problems on their own.  Rather than memorizing formulas simply to spit them out, new programs encourage students to think for themselves, offering hints and relevant facts so that students are provided the tools needed to answer questions on their own. 

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Of course, nothing can replace the experience of learning from a teacher. 
The goal of new technology in education is to help teachers do their jobs even better, by helping students become interested and engaged in the topics being covered, and by working on key concepts and skills.  A good program can never replace the value of learning from a teacher, but it can help to support the teacher's efforts so that students get the maximum benefit from the teacher's time.

How can a good program support a teacher's efforts?  In LearnBop's automated tutoring system, when a student gives a wrong answer or runs into trouble while working on a math problem, he or she has the option to ask for a hint.  Each hint provides information about one of the specific concepts or skills needed to solve the problem, so that students can identify the exact concepts and skills keeping them from moving forward.  80% of students who have used the hints in LearnBop’s automated system have been able to answer the problem they’re working on by themselves, without outside help. 

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