It’s Raining Cats & Dawgs

I’m friends with my search engine. Thanks to Google I am typically 0.40 seconds away from one million plus articles related to my inquiry. Needless to say, when beginning to delve into how personal learning devices can facilitate meaningful learning, my first step in the research process was to consult my trusted friend Google. I stumbled across a November 2014 article from EdTech Magazine, “5 Reasons Technology Should be Allowed in the Classroom.” The number one reason? “Students are technology natives.” The article focuses on the university classroom setting, which I found compelling considering I have spent the last few years (and will spend at least two more) in the university setting.

However, the question still lingers. How can personal learning devices stimulate meaningful learning in the classroom? But for all of the personal learning device skeptics, I will answer this question first: Do personal learning devices actually facilitate meaningful learning?

A 2014 eLearning Industry article highlights the number of benefits associated with students using their personal technology tools in the classroom. Personal learning devices enable students to be more interactive and engaged. Personal learning devices – perhaps more accurately, technology in general – allows for learning to be more student-driven versus teacher-driven. The twenty first century classroom is being transformed – teachers should not just instruct students; they should learn with and from students. Personal learning devices facilitate this type of instructor-pupil interaction.

Furthermore, collaboration among students also increases when personal learning devices are integrated into the classroom. Collaboration stimulates (and increases) brainstorming and creativity in the classroom. Personal learning devices also directly align with the principles of meaningful learning because students are individually catered to and all given the opportunity to learn. In other words, through the use of personal learning devices, “students can learn and excel at their own pace.” Personal learning devices often times also empower the student to engage in more inquiry-based assignments, meaning students must take charge of their own education. This framework – when used successfully – can cause students to dig deeper into topics of interest, further demonstrating that personal learning devices (for a variety of reasons) stimulate meaningful learning in the classroom.

Another question popped into my head during the research process: How is my former school district responding to the personal learning device movement? I am happy to report the Cherokee County School District (CCSD) is effectively working toward infusing technology into instruction. In fact, the CCSD suggests that the “key to an effective education is to merge information into a balanced, outcome-based, student-oriented curriculum.”

They hit the nail on the head: “Technology plays a pivotal role in bringing this results-driven learning to the broad range of populations represented in our community.” Although the term “meaningful learning” isn’t used verbatim, CCSD is proclaiming that technology, specifically personal learning devices, are linked to giving all students the opportunity to learn in the classroom through various online media (i.e.: digital textbooks, applications, etc.).

While I have answered several questions, I haven’t touched much on how to integrate technology and the use of personal learning devices into the classroom. There are endless suggestions from “the experts” on how to best do this. Be sure to check out “How to Integrate Technology” from eduTopia. Another great take away is that technology is one of the most efficient ways to personalize the learning experience for students. In other words, it’s one of the most efficient ways to guarantee meaningful learning. A great resource supporting this argument is featured on the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) website.

Throughout this focused research process, I have found myself asking more and more questions. My primary question serves as a mere umbrella, and it’s raining cats and dawgs thanks to a plethora of insightful resources. Translation: there are a vast assortment of avenues educators can take to integrate personal learning devices into the classroom to facilitate meaningful learning.

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