Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Birds Sing Sweeter than Books Tell How

The quotation of this blog post comes from E.E. Cummings, who poignantly makes it clear to us that hearing a bird sing is significantly better than reading a description about a bird's song. Much of the deliberation about the meaningfulness of technology integration misses an important point of underlying principle, that technology integration allows us to experience something; whereas without technology integration, we are trapped by distance, money, and opportunity, and hence must read about something. This is the difference between rationalism and empiricism. 

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines rationalism as "a theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions." If reason through reading and discussion is sufficient for the construction of knowledge, then reading about volcanoes and critically discussing volcanoes is enough for students to "know" about them. The online dictionary defines Empiricism as "a theory that all knowledge originates in experience." If this is valid, visiting a volcano to "experience" it is the best way to "know" it. 

Certainly, when we as educators want students to understand a concept, we attempt to utilize both means of constructing knowledge, but up until technology integration, we were bound by (like I said) distance, money, and opportunity. Technology integration is a bridge between rationalism to empiricism, allowing educators better access and the opportunity to utilize both means of helping students construct knowledge. On the empirical side of technology integration, educators can use gaming, Google Earth, Skype, etc. to increase experience-based knowledge construction. On the rational side of technology integration, educators can use wikis, blogs, micro-blogging, back-channel discussions, forums, etc. to increase rational-based knowledge construction. 

Anyone who believes in constructivist-based learning should believe in technology integration reform. 

No comments:

Post a Comment