Distance education incorporates a variety of technologies into their learning environment. The important factor to remember is that technology should enhance the learning taking place online; technology is a tool not a learning outcome. In this regard, there should be a clear purpose as to why each technology tool is being incorporated into the learning experience. Is the tool meant to deliver content and information or is the tool meant for the learner to interact with the content in order to create meaning and understanding?
This is where the Static to Dynamic continuum comes into play. Static technologies are those technologies which disseminate information to the learner; the student simply accesses these tools in order to gain knowledge and facts. There isn’t an opportunity to share, collaborate, or build knowledge. Examples of static technologies include e-books, WebPages, wikis, blogs, chats, and emails (Moller, 2008). On the other end of the continuum are dynamic technologies. These technologies allow learners to create their own meaning based on interaction with the content and their peers. Some examples of dynamic technologies are Twitter, Skype, simulations, gaming, wikis, and blogs. Learners can use the content and work together in a collaborative manner to create meaning by discussing, sharing, and reflecting on the content being presented (Moller, 2008). The meaning making includes their individual prior experiences and knowledge.
You might have noticed that I included blogs and wikis under both categories. This highlights the importance of purpose. What is the rationale for using each tool in an online environment? Wikis and blogs are static technologies if the reader is simply reading them for information. However, both tools can be categorized as dynamic technologies if there is interaction between the reader and the writer of the blog/wiki. These leads to a dialogue occurring between the reader and the writer, which can lead to greater insights and perspectives being examined. Therefore, it is crucial that the purpose of using each technology tool is identified in order for it to be used effectively to meet course objectives and goals.
I believe I am more on the dynamic side of the continuum. In my classroom, I use the D2L (Desire to Learn) platform, which has certain tools reflective of a constructivist approach. My students use the blog tool to interact with one another by commenting on each other’s posts. We also use the epals global community online to interact with students around the globe to create a deeper understanding not only of who we are but also of global issues prevalent in our world. My goal is to build upon what we are doing by asking increasingly complex and higher order questions in order for my students to dig a little deeper in terms of what we are learning. This term, my students will be using Twitter to interact with professionals in the disciplines of math and science in order to create a better understanding of issues such as stem cell research, cloning, and math in nature.
Dr. Moller (2008) discussed the importance of learners to be able to explore, dissect, think, experiment, and create in order to learn and solve problems (Moller, 2008).
Through the purposeful use of both static and dynamic technologies, students can use information to create meaning and understanding of the world around them.
Moller, L. (2008). Static and dynamic technological tools. [Unpublished Paper]. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/courses/14936/CRS-WUEDUC8812-3730064/8842_M5_Paper.pdf