Not only is technology limited in its ability to solve deep problems, technology may actually limit both teacher and students in profound ways. Specifically, technology may limit students thinking and inhibit teachers’ ability to understand student thinking. Technology can effectively hide aspects of a phenomenon causing students to not mentally wrestle with important observations to develop skills or conceptual models (Olson and Clough, 2001; Potter and Kelly, 2006; Lunetta et al., 2007). When students do not wrestle with these technologically hidden aspects of phenomena, teachers may not recognize students’ misconceptions or not understand how students are conceptualizing the phenomenon under study.
Kruse (2012) provides an example of how modern technology might mask important aspects of natural phenomena and hinder both learners and teachers.
[I]magine students are learning about acid-base titrations using a computer simulation. This simulation will be useful in showing students the endpoint and they may even be able to add the titrant “drop by drop”. Yet, the simulation will likely not show the need to carefully swirl the solution in between drops and will not provide an opportunity for a skilled teacher to ask, “Why does your solution stay pink for longer and longer before going back to clear?” This question pushes students to consider the manner in which particles are interacting. Digital simulations hide this deep level of thinking about the particulate nature of matter.
This post is from a paper I recently presented at the Association for Science Teacher Educators. For the full paper and citations, click here.