Have you ever heard someone say “technology is just a tool” when referring to the use of computers and electronic media in education? Do you agree with that statement? I agree that technology is a tool that can be used in education. Where I differ from the above statement is the use of the words “just a tool.” Technology is not just a tool, it is a power tool for educating children.
Students adopt some combination of three primary learning styles. The three learning styles are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Of these, each student will typically have one that is more predominant than the others. Auditory learners learn best by hearing information, visual learners learn best by seeing information, and kinesthetic learners learn best by doing.
Most computer software and electronic media effectively address the needs of auditory and visual learners. Even more so, they do an exceptional job of addressing the needs of students that learn best through a combination of auditory and visual delivery of information.
While computer software and electronic media products are both very powerful information delivery tools, computer software has the additional benefit of being interactive. For example, educational software often includes word puzzles, practice quizzes, and in some cases simulations.
Simulation functionality, which simulates the behavior and responses of real world objects, is especially well suited for kinesthetic learners. Interactive simulation exercises give kinesthetic learners the ability to perform an action on a simulated object and to observe the object’s response. The student’s requested action may be correct in which case the software would perform the task. In other cases, the requested action may be incorrect based on the predefined rules of the software model. In this case, the software would reject the requested action and advise the student of the reason the requested action can not be honored.
A simple example of an interactive simulation would be a student taking unlabeled graphically represented states and placing them on a graphically represented outline of the United States. When the student places a state in the correct location, the software locks it in place. When the student places a state in the wrong location, the software returns the state outline object to the pool of unplaced objects. The student continues placing states on the country outline until all states have been placed correctly. This type of interaction between the student and the software is an ideal way for kinesthetic learners to obtain knowledge.