Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Balancing Behaviorism in a Digital Era

Is there a place for Behaviorism in 21st century educational technology?   As a computer enhancement teacher, I've seen the benefits of  Behaviorism in the form of traditional classroom management.  The benefits of Behaviorism via programmed instruction has great relevance in respect to online tutorials.     This form of positive Operant Condition, if correlate with classroom curriculum, can be a measurable and effective means of enrichment.   A student completing a goal can have tangible proof, such as a printable certificate, to document their success or achievement.

Past brain research theories have increased our understanding of child development information and developmentally appropriate practices. Now, through new technologies such as brain imaging, we are able to have an even more profound understanding of specific parts of the brain and their correlation to cognitive functions.

Research also supports the integration of educational technology as a beneficial method of facilitating instruction as well as enhancing student learning.  According to Dr. Wolfe, "to understanding learning, we must understand how it works in the brain." (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). Dr. Wolfe's research focuses on making connections. Her research defines the motor cortex as the controlling part of the brain with all movement, excluding reflexes. As dendrites receive information via the axon branch, electric impulses are created to make connections. Connections that are activated more frequently, will increase the potential effectiveness of that connection. Integrating educational technology-related experiences, will provide needed reinforcement practices that will allow students to make better connections.

Although some intelligences are more developed than others, experiences that address diverse learning styles will provide more meaningful connections. (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008) Educational technology, along with the aforementioned research would benefit both educators and students. Technology provides instant motivation and elaborative experiences that allow students to make connections through familiar experiences of everyday technologies uses outside of the classroom.  Homework, in addition to online lessons, computer labs, blogs, and other multimedia presentations provide diverse learning styles that foster multiple intelligences as well as equip our students with problem-solving, analytical and life skill needed productive citizens who are  capable of competing in an 21st century world.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program one: Understanding the brain [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Chapter 1: Theoretical Foundations

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program two: Brain research and learning [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology.

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