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Educational technology works best when students use it actively

Researchers say activity-based learning trumps lecture-based learning when it comes to tech-related tools

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In recent years, teachers have begun to use technology in various ways to enhance their lessons and make their classrooms more connected. While trying new ways to connect with students is a good thing, a recent study shows that not all technology approaches are created equal. 

Study findings from the University of Missouri (MU) show that students had more success in the classroom when technology was used for activity-based learning instead of lecture-based learning. The researchers found that students were able to be more creative and engaged with learning when able to engage with technology in an active way.

"This research is useful for professors to rethink how they design their existing courses," said MU associate professor Isa Jahnke. "We need to shift away from purely lecture-based learning where students are just consumers of information toward a more meaningful learning approach with technology where students are able to come up with creative and novel solutions in a team setting."

Creating creative thinkers

The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing how higher education professors used mobile technology to engage with students.

In one example, students were able to develop an app that taught other students about the history of the Berlin Wall. The researchers found that students were able to understand the content on a deeper level because the students were engaged with the technology and not simply lecturing the information to other students.

Jahnke says that this sort of process is great for developing creative thinking, and it could help students develop into more well-rounded individuals.

"If we have universities that are producing more creative-thinking students, then we have more people who can help come up with solutions for all of society's grand challenges," she said. "Creativity will lead to better innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners, but first we need to ask ourselves as educators if we are using technology to put our students in positions to be creative in the first place."

The full study has been published in the journal Computers & Education.

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