Technology has transformed the education sector as people try to find easy ways of passing knowledge. Assistive technologies have benefited learners who suffer from various physical or mental problems. Normal students have also benefited from advanced technology as a new era of online learning become popular in the global society. Technology has become an important component of the learning process. From the online libraries to online classes and discussion groups, people are finding it easy to learn irrespective of their physical locations. Studies have been conducted to determine the real impact of technologies on the education sectors. It comes out clearly that even though there are some challenges that technology has brought, the overall impact has been positive. As Bers (56) puts it, learning has never been easier as it is today, thanks to the advanced technologies that are currently in use. In this study, the researcher seeks to determine the role and impact of technology on learning. The researcher seeks to get the opinion of relevant stakeholders (students) who have used technology in one way or the other in their academic lives. Their opinion will help determine the relevance of technology from the perspective of a learner.
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According to Kuada (90), defining research methods is very important in determining the path to be taken in a given study. The researcher started the study by identifying the respondents who were to take part in this study. The participants were a group of classmates who have been using technology in their learning process. In the process of collecting data from the participants, the researcher used two approaches. The fist approach was through interviews, while the second approach was through focus group. Although quantitative would have helped in explaining the number of people sharing a given view, the researcher considered qualitative methods more appropriate. The researcher wanted descriptive statistics to help in explaining the views of the participants about technology.
It was necessary to sample a small population to participate in this study other than using the entire population. For this reason, simple random sampling was considered appropriate for the study. According to Pathak (39), it is always vital to select an appropriate analysis tool that would yield the desired result in the most accurate manner. The study will use descriptive data analysis. In order to enhance validity of this qualitative research, it was considered necessary to use triangulation methods. In this ethnographic study, the researcher used open-ended (unstructured) questions. Using unstructured questions allows the respondents to give their personal views over something using their own words. It eliminates the situation where the respondents are forced to select a series of answers, some of which he or she may not agree with in one way or the other. The fact that these questions allow the participants to give their own views in their own unique ways makes it easy to capture some of the unique ideas that they have on the topic.
In order to get the views of the sampled population, the researcher used two approaches to collect data. The first approach was the interview while the second was through focus group. The two approaches both involved a question-answer process. In both sessions, the respondents were allowed to give response in their own words. The main different that was observed was that while using focus group, some participants were cautious with their responses, something that was not witnessed when using interviews. This was caused by the fear of being mocked by colleagues in case the response was wrong.
When comparing the two approaches, it was observed that there was an evolution of ideas. The response that was given during the interviews was slightly improved during the interview. The participants must have taken time to rethink their responses after week 1 interview, and during week 2 focus group discussions, their responses were mature and supported with facts.
This process has enlightened the researcher. Not only did the process allow the researcher to have a deeper understanding of the topic, but it also helped in determining the best approach to take when conducting a study. When using focus group, it is a fact that the participants will be more attentive than when using interviews. This is so because in focus group, one would be determined to articulate his or her point in the debate and convince the audience. In the contrary, participants in an interview process are always interested in completing the interview as fast as possible, giving less attention to the kind of response they give. Using focus group was a more effective manner of collecting data. It allowed the participants to listen to the views of others and use it to refine their ideas. The discussion helped the participants to bring in their differing opinions over various issues under investigation.
When conducting my own research on a similar or related topic, the researcher would choose qualitative methods because of its descriptive nature. It allows the participants to give their own view without being confined to a given pattern of response. When using qualitative methods, the researcher would consider using focus group. This is so because of the experience from the past two processes. The researcher noticed that when using interviews, respondents felt detached, and were in a hurry to complete the questions using very brief responses. If fact some of them gave responses that would be more appropriate for quantitative methods than qualitative research. In focus groups, the participants were very elaborate in their responses.
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From the two approaches of data collection, the researcher was able to gather information about how the participants felt about the use of technology in learning. It was evident that in both cases, the participants felt that technology has revolutionised the field of education. Learning has been made easier and more enjoyable when using emerging technologies (Graf 76). It has brought superior methods of issuing and receiving instructions, more practical ways of learning new concepts, and improved teacher-students communication. Technology has enhanced group discussions as learners can use new communication tools to share knowledge they gather when doing research.
It is clear from the discussion that technology has become an integral part of learning. The current society relies so much on technology that it has become almost impossible for many learning institutions to do without it. From taking of records of students, to issuing instruction, using the libraries, and sharing information among researchers, technology has revolutionised the entire learning system. The researcher found interviews and focus group to be important approaches of gathering data. However, it was apparent that focus group was a superior way of gathering data from the respondents. Based on the data collected, the researcher makes the following recommendations to the university about the use of technology in learning.
- The management of the university should automate the entire system of managing students’ data to enhance efficiency.
- it is important to use assistive technology in classrooms to enhance learning process
- The management should invest in technological infrastructure to make e learning a reality at the institution.
- The university should create awareness among all the stakeholders on the use of technology in the learning process.
Bers, Marina. Blocks to Robots: Learning with Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press, 2008. Print.
Graf, Sabine. Intelligent and Adaptive Learning Systems: Technology Enhanced Support for Learners and Teachers. Hershey: Information Science Reference, 2012. Print.
Kuada, John. Research Methodology: A Project Guide for University Students. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur, 2012. Print.
Pathak, Robert. Methodology of Educational Research. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2008. Print.