Technological Advances and Their Effects in Learning

by RICHARD GERLING, Contributor

As technology has advanced through the years, so have the ways students use it to learn and study while in school. In years prior, students would have to use encyclopedias to research, whereas now students can easily search a topic and have a vast amount of resources to help them learn.

Jimena Gonzalez, Ph.D., shared how technology advancement has changed drastically from when she was going through school. “In high school I guess we had maybe one computer at home…. So when I was growing up when I was little in elementary, sometimes in high school we had the encyclopedias,” said Gonzalez. “The main difference is that now students can learn anything whether it’s their phones or laptops. We had to go to the computer lab most likely. And in class, in high school at least we didn’t have computers. The college I went to rented laptops for each of us, so we each had one.”

Luisanna Sardu, Ph.D., recalled having to open encyclopedias to research and study. “It was much longer, and you had to research and read in the encyclopedia books. I still remember the research I did in middle school and high school, you know at least I have some general idea about what I wrote about . Students whenever they write research now, talking about languages about Italian lit and history, and they remember for the research and poof it’s gone,” said Sardu.

Sophomore computer engineer, Michael Musella, and Sophomore civil engineer, Gianni Ferrara, both have used technology in their college education. Ferrara said, “I would say if you didn’t have the internet your teacher would give you everything. If you had a computer, you could look stuff up and you’re more on your own. I prefer to study alone. I get to learn more and actually understand it, so I can actually learn the material.” Musella added, “Being on my own helps me learn and I am able to figure things out.”

“I can actually learn the material. When teachers give you stuff, I’m straight memorizing stuff and not actually learning it,” said Ferrara. However, both Gonzalez and Sardu believe that students are more able to memorize and retain information compared to using the internet to search for it.

While this is the case, there is a common ground between students and many of the professors at Manhattan College in the fact that Moodle can in fact lead to better learning and studying. Gonzalez puts everything on Moodle. “I take all my notes on Microsoft Office, and I draw my demand and supply graphs. After class I make it into a PDF from that and I upload it to Moodle. My philosophy is that I don’t want students to worry about getting everything down.  I want them to be paying attention to what I’m doing, but then they can always make reference to what I do later. So in my case I put everything on there,” said Gonzalez.

Additionally, Sardu puts all of the course material on Moodle as well, from notes and homework to grades. He said, “I think it’s a very useful tool for students to have everything on Moodle.”

Musella added that he gets a lot of use of out of Moodle. “It definitely makes it a lot easier to get assignments. It keeps everything sorted.”

Gonzalez makes use of technology in her environmental economics class. “I’m using this website Moblab, and it’s basically for experiments. If we’re learning about market, then I open up to the website and I set up a double market and the students participate in class on their cell phones or laptops, and then I can show them how demand and supply look like from their answers,” said Gonzalez. She believes that students can really learn from this exercise. Compared to prior years, Gonzalez performed the same activity with a deck of playing cards and found that the online exercise is much better.

The use of technology has had an effect on the way students learn and study course materials. Developments in technology have created new ways for teachers and students to interact and get more out of learning through better exercises and new ways of getting information.