EDTECH Research

I chose virtual manipulatives as the topic of my annotated bibliography.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a parenting podcast when the topic of using technology in the classroom came up as part of the podcaster’s discussion.  They commented on how wholly unbalanced our nation is when some schools have access to technology like personal Macbooks for every student and others barely have a classroom computer.  They then discussed how much “screen-time” the students with iPads, Macbooks or Chromebooks must face on a daily basis and when is enough enough?  This conversation got my mind thinking and wondering as well, when is “enough enough?”

My question isn’t easily answered as I am both a parent and a teacher.  I can see so much value to using virtual manipulatives in the classroom.  The size of our classrooms continue to grow.  With 30+ students in a classroom, how is a teacher supposed to physically have enough physical manipulatives to make learning concrete like it needs to be?  Go into any teacher supply store and see how much money those manipulatives cost and then the controversy grows.  Space, money, quantity, etc., they are all issues.  It is obvious that virtual manipulatives are a good cost-effective alternative.  However, I am drawn back to my screen time dilemma, when is enough enough?

Is using our hands to physically manipulate objects getting lost to higher technology?  This was my ultimate question as I sought to see what research was saying.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that much of the research (much more than just what appears in my annotated bibliography) shows that using a combination of physical and virtual manipulatives is optimum for learning concretely.  While I love and embrace the use of technology in our classrooms, I don’t want to see the pendulum swing so far to one side that we forget how important it is just to sit and discover with our hands.

I learned a lot through  this assignment.  Although I have had an APA class in the past few years and have written a few Literature Reviews, I had never created an annotated bibliography before.  It was a great opportunity to dissect the information into small chunks, easier to digest in a short period of time.  I like to think that an annotated bibliography is a summary of the article’s abstract and conclusion all wrapped up nice and neat along with all the information needed to find that article in the future.

I also learned that I really don’t like Google Scholar.  As another student pointed out, there is no apparent way to filter peer-reviewed articles and studies.  For this reason, I chose to stay with the BSU library, EbscoHost, and Academic Search Premier.  While I did try to research Zotero and its usefulness, I didn’t get into it much and I will have to look more into it in the future.

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