There is no doubt that educational technology can enhance learning for students. Cognitive tools serve several purposes in the instructional process. Information seeking tools such as Internet search engines and online databases allow students to access more information in a shorter amount of time. As they find the answers to their original questions, many times they also find extended information that deepens their understanding of the material. Presentation tools such as Word and PowerPoint allow the students to display their creative ideas through unique multimedia projects. Technologies such as spreadsheets and notebook tools aid the students in organizing information and defining relationships. Knowledge integration is enhanced using mapping tools and simulations. These technologies allow students to connect their prior knowledge with the newly acquired information (Orey, 2001).
Study skills such as summarizing and note taking can be demonstrated using some of these cognitive tools. Simply using the mark-up feature in Word is a very effective way for the teacher to model summarizing. Students’ note-taking skills improve when they are taught to use graphic organizers. For class discussions or small group projects, these notes can be shared online through the use of wikis and blogs (Pitler, 2007).
Concept mapping and virtual field trips are cognitive tools that are new to me, but I can definitely see the value of these tools. Class trips across the country or around the world are not feasible. With virtual field trips, any student can visit our nation’s capitol, go on a safari, or explore the rainforests. As school budgets tighten even more, these virtual field trips may be all that we can afford. Concept mapping tools can be used to enhance the student’s ability to organize information and define relationships. Even so, we must be sure that our students “work with computer technology, instead of being controlled by it” (Orey, 2001).
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD