Over the past few years there has been an increase in the production of technological devices like smartphones, ipads and tablets. According to the NMC Horizon report “… 61% of Americans age 12 and up own a mobile device, and 44% specifically own a smart phone…” (Johnson, Adams, Cummins, 2012, p. 15). The creation of Web 2.0 “not only accelerates the development of diverse communities but also promotes socialization of the Internet” (Huang et al., 2009). Social media like Face book, Skype, and LinkedIn are tools that can be used to access and share educational information on the internet.
The introduction of technology in educational institutions can help implement learning theories like the “Conditions of learning theory” (Gagne, 1985). This theory states that “… there are different levels of learning… which requires different types of instructions” (Gagne, 1985, para. 1). This theory has nine different processes which are gaining attention, informing learners of the objective, stimulating recall of prior learning, presenting the stimulus, providing learning guidance, eliciting performance, providing feedback, assessing performance and enhancing retention and transfer. Children are drawn to activities that they enjoy doing. A good way of presenting this theory to a classroom full of children will be to use game-based learning. These games which are “open-ended … can draw on skills for research, writing, collaboration, problem solving, public speaking, leadership, digital literacy, and media making…” (Johnson, Adams, Cummins, 2012, p. 25). All nine learning processes can be incorporated in this technology.
Another area within which technology can play a vital role is the formal learning sector. Formal learning is “usually characterized by learners in classes being taught by teachers who deliver comprehensive, multi-year curricula…” (Coombs, 1985). This type of learning takes place in a structured setting. The instructor dictates the length of courses and the contents. Formal learning is compulsory and intentional. This kind of learning is usually seen from K-12 grade. By introducing informal learning which is a “lifelong process of learning by which people acquire and accumulate knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights through intention … from a life time of experience” (Schwier, 2010, p. 2), students will feel more responsible for the outcome of their studies.
In order for educators to incorporate informal learning into formal learning Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) can be formed to help teachers learn more about the importance of technology and its benefit. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are mainly found amongst educators. The members are professionals who meet on a regular basis to discuss ways and means by which they can improve upon their performance and that of their students. They also share problems pertaining to their classrooms. By sharing resources, the educators are able to find solutions to the problems they encounter. These meetings do not only grant the professionals confidence in their career but it also gives them the necessary strategies to become great at what they do. Educators have their confidence boosted because they know they have a team of colleagues who are willing to help them become better educators.
The vast availability of information out there in the technological world calls for a reform of the way learning is structured. Informal learning will enable encourage students to contribute towards the success of their education. PLCs gives teachers the platform to discuss pertinent issues regarding their students and creating strategies that will help their students become successful.
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Shwier, R. A. (2010). Focusing educational technology research on informal learning
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