Week 9: Interactivity

Last week in LRND 6700 I read a series of articles about interactivity and the need for change in education. To begin with there are different types of interactions. In educational contexts people interact with each other synchronously in classroom settings or asynchronously through the use of computer technology. In all situations these interactions can take place between two individuals or a single individual and a computer or between a group of people of any size either face to face or online. The types of interactions that take place also vary depending on the situation.

A point that really stood out to be in the article “Interaction” from elearnspace.org was that the act of interaction and the goal of interaction are two different things. An interaction is just an exchange of information whereas the goal of interaction is to lead one to reflection. Different types of interactions take place all the time, but it is the process of reflecting that elevates some interactions above others. For example, when I am reading an articles online I am interacting with the computer by navigating to that article and scrolling through it. I am also interacting with the article itself through the act of reading the words. However I haven’t reached the goal of the interaction until I reflect on and synthesize what I have read, either through taking notes, writing an essay or blog post, or discussing the article with another person. Through reflection and evaluation the information is transferred into short-term memory where is quickly gets replaced by new information since we are only capable of retaining a limited amount of information at once in our short-term memories.

“Engage Me or Enrage Me” by Marc Prensky points out that the way we have traditionally education children is no longer working and needs to be updated. Today’s children have grown up surrounded by digital technology and are no longer engaged by lectures and linear textbooks. Today’s generation of students need to interact with information and ideas in a way that they feel comfortable and in a way that motivates them. Since they are comfortable using digital technology educators should embrace e-learning tools and social media rather than prohibit it as is often the case. If students aren’t motivated then we can’t expect them to willingly reflect on and evaluate their interactions and thus store information in their long-term memories. It is no surprise that there hasn’t been an improvement in test scores nationwide as the traditional (and most of the time current) approach is all wrong. I agree with the argument that there is not an ADD problem with children today. Educators are just taking the wrong approach and emphasizing the wrong types of interactions.

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