Communication Technologies for Instructional Use: Linear and Nonlinear Tools Contributing to Student Learning

Communication Technologies for Instructional Use: Linear and Nonlinear Tools Contributing to Student Learning

Seok Kang (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-878-1.ch024
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This chapter explores educational tools that adopt the interactive nature of communication technologies. The effectiveness of communication technologies for teaching varies depending on what and how the tools are used. Further, learner characteristics and/or available facilities determine the effect of communication technologies as instructional tools on student learning. In this chapter, the most up-to-date communication technologies for classroom use are introduced and evaluated. Linear technologies such as Screenr® and Ispring® are assessed from an educator perspective. Nonlinear communication technologies include Wimba,® Turning Technologies,® or Second Life.® Possible advantages and disadvantages are discussed as implications that instructors can reference for their own needs and objectives in teaching. This chapter concludes that instructors find the best-fit tools for their course objectives, materials, student backgrounds, and difficulty levels.
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Effectiveness Of Communication Technologies As Instructional Tools

The N-generation (social networking generation) today is more familiar with digital gadgets than any other generation. From first graders in elementary school to graduate students in college using Facebook,® Twitter,® iPad,® and cell phones apps for communication on a daily basis, they tend to be used to technology-oriented learning environments. In addition to the N-generation’s fluency in communication technologies, many other factors have propelled the transformation of pedagogical methods from the traditional classroom setting to interactive learning. For example, communication technologies for interaction and instructions are commonplace in educational sectors because the use of them saves time and offers flexibility (Shea, Motiwalla, & Lewis, 2001; Sullivan, 2001). Further, digital interactivity has become a norm in communicating between educators and learners (Benbunan-Fich et al., 2001; Phillips, 1998).

Overall research on communication technologies as instructional tools suggests that the effectiveness of technologies is threefold. First, many studies tout the functionality of communication technologies used for education. A second group of research reports the opposite of the functionality, which addresses counterproductive pedagogical effectiveness as a result of communication technology use for teaching and learning. Another body of research emphasizes customized effects of technologies as they fit in specific pedagogy.

According to positive effects, communication technologies with the interactive nature enhance learner participation in class discussion, recall and understanding of class materials, teamwork skills, and overall enjoyment of class (Uektschy, 2001). Segmented categories of pedagogy are useful in applying communication technologies to teaching. Research found that subject knowledge, course management, and student management skills combined with interactive communication technologies for a course produced promising outcomes of the adoption (Madhavaram & Laverie, 2010). A computer-aided tutor system positively influenced students’ level of learning and classroom functioning (Aleven, Stahl, Schworm, Fischer, & Wallace, 2003; Schofield, Eurich-Fulcer, & Britt, 1994). Use of communication technologies for class also facilitates student interest in and understanding of subjects (Miller, 2009).

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