Guest Contributor: Joy Hamilton, Alumnus, University of Dayton (Dayton, OH).
With the increasing development and popularity of digital tools used in education, students everywhere are experiencing increased success and overall are enjoying classes more. Why is this? Technology puts the world at our fingertips; there is not a single thing that is inaccessible. How many of us stop to consider this? Instructors make the educational lives of their students much simpler when they implement digital tools in their teaching—by doing so, students are using what is second nature as a tool to learn and understand subject matter.
Digital products allow students to integrate the multiple subjects and levels of their studies, drawing upon varied resources to gain a fully developed understanding of what they are learning. I use technology because it is second nature to me, and as with most students of my generation, I use digital tools because they make the coursework and studying a breeze. In addition, because of the multiple resources and integration digital tools provide, I am able to understand the class material at a much deeper level than just mere words on the page. I can do further research and delve into my own thoughts and understandings using those technology and digital products, and doing so allows me to be the best student I can possibly be.
Because it is second nature to me, I never really noticed how much I actually use digital products. When I stop to consider it though, I think I may literally use something digital in every aspect of my learning. However, my classroom experience was nowhere near as ‘digital’ as my experience outside the classroom. This is disheartening because with the shift in our world where nearly everything is going digital, learning without technology actually becomes challenging, and I have become more aware of the limitations of “flat” learning, which I define as reading one-dimensional textbooks and taking notes on paper.
To enhance my learning, I use technology to do additional research on the material we cover in classes so that I can actually understand it. In order to find more multi-dimensional information, I use both my computer and my phone. I am reliant upon Google apps as well. They keep me organized and synched between the devices that I use. Tabs in apps like Google Chrome can be synced for access later on the computer, and I can upload key materials (like pictures, study guides, homework assignments, etc.) between devices and access them through Google Drive. This process helps me sync up class time and my personal study time in my own mind, and because of this I feel I can better complete my assignments. I use my phone just as much as I do my computer, and this is because my professors don’t allow technology in the classroom, so computers are definitely a no-no. It’s pretty simple to use a phone to look up information, which I could then share and discuss in class. Other students use tablets, and if I had one I too would use it. I think the most beneficial way to use a tablet is for pulling up interactive ebooks and other extra readings to use as reference in class, as well.
Using even these somewhat limited digital resources really does take an otherwise flat experience and allows me to create a three-dimensional image in my head that takes whatever shape I like. I use digital to access additional outside research, which helps me make more out of what I learn, and in turn, allows me to develop full understanding.
How does technology facilitate a “three-dimensional” experience in your courses? Share your experiences in the comments.