Students Find Courses Online, Classroom Technology Boosts Learning

Amanda McFarland, student at BYU watching her teacher teach her class on her home computer rather than driving 30 minutes to campus to attend class, and she said she loved it.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Surgery found that students preferred to incorporate technology into their curriculum and that the inclusion of technology did not inhibit students’ ability to learn the material.

Professors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine created a program that included an online program to accompany a surgical internship, a six-week program to teach students the principles of surgery.

After completing the program, students were asked about their experience.

“The results of student exams and evaluations performed after the Hopkins program ended revealed that the experience significantly increased student satisfaction with the program, while also resulting in non-inferior academic results,” according to the study.

The researchers found the following based on respondents’ responses:

  • 66.5% had a positive experience with the online course
  • 77.6% said technology-integrated learning – including online, audio and visual content – helped them better understand complex concepts
  • 73.6% said learning embedded in technology made them more likely to practice the material
  • 69.9% said technology-integrated learning made for better collaboration with classmates
  • 1.6% prefer courses without face-to-face interaction, and all courses are online
  • 53.6% preferred “intensive use of technology” in a course
  • 54.4% said technology-integrated courses improve learning
  • 92% said technology allowed more flexibility in delivering lessons from various locations
David Nilson does his chemistry homework with Smartwork, an online homework software. (Jesse King)

BYU freshman David Nilson took a chemistry course that requires three classroom lectures, two in-person labs, and three online homework on a program called SmartWork. He said SmartWork allowed him to apply what he learned in the classroom.

He said the best feature of SmartWork is that it “gives advice” to help the student answer the question, provides a step-by-step answer if the student answers incorrectly, and allows three chances – which his manual did not.

The downsides to SmartWork were that it had slight variations in the answers that were considered incorrect, even though they were mostly correct, and sometimes the questions didn’t make sense, according to Nilson. But he said the combination of in-person class time and working online was a positive experience.

Efficient integration of technology in the classroom

BYU education teacher Royce Kimmons specializes in the use of technology in education. He said the key to using technology effectively depends on what students do with the technology and the impact it has on education.

Kimmons uses the acronym PICRAT to teach teachers how to improve their use of technology in the classroom. The acronym stands for passive, interactive, creative, replacement, amplification, transformation. He said the ideal use of technology combines creativity and transformation. An example would be asking students to use a Powerpoint to create a game to help learn concepts.

Professor Royce Kimmons uses the acronym PICRAT to assess the effectiveness of different types of technologies used in the classroom. The best way to bring technology into the classroom is with creative and transformative technology, according to Kimmons. (Jesse King)

Simmons said there is no better technology to bring into the classroom.

“It’s a lot less about the technology itself and a lot more about how we use it,” Kimmons said.

Online courses and overcoming obstacles

The study examining how surgical students responded to online learning said those who took the course missed the teacher-student interaction during the online course.

McFarland, a BYU mechanical engineering student, is currently enrolled in a soil course, which includes occasional video lectures instead of in-person lectures. Although she has the option to watch the lecture in class, she said she chooses to watch it at home.

Civil engineering student Skyler Cozzens and others attend a video conference for their soil class. (Jesse King)

Because she works, studies and takes care of her son, she says having an extra hour is convenient for her. However, she said the negative side of watching the video conference is that she can’t ask her teacher the questions she has right away. McFarland said she had to find the answer on her own, seek help from a teaching assistant or send an email to the teacher.

Kimmons said there has always been tension among those who study educational technology between caring about the quality of education and shifting lessons to another medium, especially one with the aim of outsourcing to one. larger group.

But he said online courses can include features to overcome the barrier of weakening student-teacher interaction, such as video conferences and group discussion forums.

“We tend to have the mentality that if we can just put content in front of people, they’ll learn like magic, and that’s not how it works,” Kimmons said.

Online courses offer options

McFarland has also taken a few BYU Online courses. She said the classes vary in difficulty, but she loves them.

“I like that they are implementing this more and more – like, for my situation, I think it’s really good,” McFarland said. “Anytime I can take an online course it’s really great for me and my family. “

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