Education

The Rationale of Using Digital Systems

Availability of adequate digital infrastructure is not itself a reason for materializing a teaching activity based on technology. Actually, a combination of the current technological infrastructure and the innovative organizing of the lesson is required. Otherwise, the digital infrastructure is reduced just to support a ‘traditional’ lesson. For example, asking information on the Internet is an important activity that is more complex compared to using ‘classic’ sources such as newspapers and encyclopedias.

The students must be able to: search and choose among the tons of data the ones that are useful; check whether they are valid and up-to-date; be aware and sensitive about ethics and copy-right issues. This means: a) lesson’s organizing in a completely new way (compared to the traditional one) and b) equipping students with certain skills. It must be avoided also using technology in favor of lessons that have a traditional character. Webquests constitute a typical example.

As a teaching method they present a lot of attractive features. However, for the sake of saving time, they easily are converted to a set of completely guided activities. Consequently, the assessment of choice of the used software must be based not only on its innovative character but on its estimated didactic effectiveness. It is the rationale of the teaching that justifies the usage of digital systems rather than the opposite.

On the other hand, it is possible to face additional problems when using some software. It will be necessary to waste time for making the students familiar with the specific environment. Another potential reservation concerns the possibility for the students to acquire a limited concept image. Sometimes the usage of digital systems gives emphasis to some aspects of a concept when there has not been established other prerequisite knowledge [6].

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Or, it is likely for a limitation to some skills to occur. Resorting, for example, to handheld calculators in the very early grades may suspend their ability for mental calculations. It is also known that the immediate feedback the user receives through the interface prevents or strengthens a problem solving process. But this feedback may cause misconceptions to the students for some concepts. Finally, it is worthwhile mentioning that sometimes it is the software or the digital environment itself that causes mistaken conceptions to the students.

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