10 Ways in Which Technology has Transformed Education
Not too long ago, there were two givers of knowledge in the classroom – teachers and textbooks. Then, a few more were added – other classmates, movies, and cable TV. Today, givers of knowledge include all of these, but the infusion of technology has made many of them obsolete. Just the presence of the Internet in the classroom has revolutionized how we deliver instruction. While each new technological advance will impact education, even more, these are 10 of the most significant effects to date.
1. Global Experiences/Perspectives
Students travel across borders and continents in real time, not just through pictures in their textbooks. They can view any piece of geography or architecture as if they were there. They can Skype with students all over the globe. Both students and teachers can use all types of video conferencing technology to share their skills and their knowledge with one another, whether it is with their counterparts across the country or halfway around the world. The future prospects for peace can only be heightened by the relationships and communication that technology has now made possible for young people – those who will soon inherit the governmental and business leadership positions in their own countries.
2. Improved Online Educational Programming
In the past, correspondence courses were boring, dull, and uninspiring. Students received their texts and assignments by mail, completed them, and mailed them back. Today, online learning is becoming a massive “disruption” to the traditional classroom environment. Technology has made this possible. Students at any age can enroll in coursework, collaborate with their peers and their instructors in personal and highly rewarding ways, and be active participants in their learning experiences. Non-traditional college students can go back to school while they work full-time. Companies can provide professional training and development that is individualized and economical. The future of online learning is bright indeed.
3. Enhanced Teacher-Student-Parent Interaction
Because teachers can now have their own classroom presence online, both students and parents can access progress reports, assignments, and other informational items from anywhere. Students can submit assignments and take tests, getting immediate feedback as they are completed. Parents of elementary and secondary students can check on missing assignments and communicate directly with the teacher via chat and email, rather than waiting for school hours and phone calls to be returned. The improved communication allows everyone to be “on the same page” in regards to progress and mastery.
4. Back and Shoulder Relief
The days of carrying those heavy book bags are rapidly disappearing. In many places, school-issued tablets house the textbooks that students will be using for each of their classes. Carting a tablet too and from school, each day is convenient, light weight, and alleviates the issue of books lost or forgotten at home.
5. Interactive Textbooks
Textbook companies have seized upon the opportunities that technology provides. Their online publications are further enhanced by supplemental activities, games, and experiences that students can access for additional information about a topic, for more practice of a skill, and for digging deeper into a topic of interest or for further research. Students need only click the links provided in order to pursue that additional information or practice. Further, the online presence of textbooks allows for auditory as well as visual content presentation, a huge boon for the visually impaired student.
6. Computer-Assisted Instruction
Students are at all levels of mastery in the typical heterogeneous classroom. Teachers have traditionally struggled with how to provide for this diversity – developing activities for those students who are still struggling with a concept or skill and yet enriching the experiences of students who have mastered them and are ready to move on. Both software and websites are now available to meet the needs of both of these student groups within the same classroom environment those who need enrichment can access those activities while a teacher provides direct instruction to those in need of remediation; likewise, those in need of remediation can access additional instruction and practice, while enhanced learning activities for others are facilitated by the teacher.
Gaming environments are perhaps the most motivational for learning. When students can learn through gaming, studies show that learning is more “cemented.” Even adults, in their career fields, are highly motivated by gaming in their professional training activities. Interactive and active participation in learning are just more effective for all ages.
8. Mobile Learning Apps
If anyone accesses the Apple app store and plugs in the keywords for and topic field and schooling level, s/he will find an amazing array of apps that have been built to assist students. Educational apps, in fact, have been some of the most popular downloads. Students need everything from assistance with getting organized to storing research notes, and they have come to depend on mobile apps for this help.
Perhaps in no other area has technology assisted secondary and college students than in the area of research. Spending long hours in the library, going through the card catalogs, pulling books and other reference materials from shelves, getting out pen and paper and taking notes, etc. is a thing of the past. First of all, card catalogs are now all digitized and online, so that students can look for resources from their homes and dorm rooms. Second, many of the resources themselves are online, providing an efficient and rapid way to scan and determine if they are the most relevant for a paper being written or a project to be completed. Online research has saved students countless hours of time and energy. The third thing is that there are a huge amount of online research services where every student can get the writing help.
10. Meeting Special Needs
Teachers have always struggled with methods to serve the needs of students identified with special needs. Most of these students do not do well in traditional classroom environments. But technology, in the form of digital educational aids, visual learning opportunities, and more, can provide the types of delivery that these students need and both motivate them and support their belief that they can indeed learn.
Technology is not finished with education. At the rapid rate with which it is disrupting all areas of our lives, and especially education, we can look for great things still to come.