We now live in a new age. The modern world has seen massive technological leaps in the last few decades. Self-driving cars, mega online retailers, 3D-printed infrastructures – many industries are quickly rushing to adopt these new technologies and transform themselves further for their ever demanding market. But the people who deserve to reap the most benefits from these marvelous innovations are the young minds currently growing and changing. Education needs to evolve with the times and utilise technology to produce students who learn better and faster.
How Does Technology Change The Education Game?
Technology revamps the passive traditional educational experience by making it much more collaborative and interactive. Both students and teachers exchange ideas and information more frequently and efficiently. Furthermore, the instantaneous feedback and data gathered can be analysed to determine what is effective or enjoyable. Technology also allows students to learn at their own pace. Software applications can retain information like student’s performance and produce individualised learning programmes based on that data.
Furthermore, it is also an opportunity for educators to teach students the digital citizenship skills to use technology appropriately and responsibly. It is also important to note that learning through technology is already how most young individuals gain knowledge. Thus, utilising technology in education will mirror the methods that students enjoy learning.
Older readers might remember the pain of lugging a backpack full of heavy textbooks in the morning but younger students may not need to go through with that cumbersome experience any longer. Tablets which are already used frequently by a majority of young individuals could be a game changer in education. The user-friendly interface and variety of applications makes it an excellent practical tool for students as young as 3 to learn and absorb information.
Research has shown the usage of tablets in classrooms are correlated with improved test scores and attendance. For example, textbook publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt performed a pilot study utilising an iPad in teaching Algebra 1 courses as opposed to traditional paper textbooks. Data gathered shows that 20% more students scored ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in subject comprehension when using tablets. Additionally, it is also more cost effective as reading e-books on tablets are much cheaper than physical textbooks while also being much more environmentally friendly with it’s reduction in paper use.
One of the oldest and most popular technological introductions into classrooms are smartboards or interactive whiteboards. These wide screen interactive displays are a significant advancement over both traditional whiteboards and overhead projectors. Smartboards are easy to use; both teachers and students can utilise it to give interactive presentations, engage in game-based activities and display high-quality videos to create a much more fun and hands-on learning experience. It has been noted that smartboards are especially effective for student group discussions and collaboration as notes can be taken on the board and saved to be shared and distributed to students later.
Online courses have been steadily growing in popularity over the years that many universities now offer them as an alternative to being present in the classroom or lecture hall. One of the key factors that make them so appealing is its flexibility. Students can learn at their own pace when and where they want. It provides great convenience for students who are busy. Additionally, it is a fantastic opportunity for individuals who are anchored to a location with limited resources. In the comforts of their own home, students can have access to academic educators across the world with video lecturers and discuss topics with fellow students through forums.
However, it has been contended that online classes may be ineffective for less proficient students. There is mounting evidence that for these students, a live skilled flesh and blood teacher is required. On the other hand, a blended model where online resources supplement but don’t replace traditional instruction has been found to produce good results. But a number of educators believe the key is to just make online education more collaborative and interactive. For example, some online lecturers have even integrated live-streaming where students can comment and ask questions in real time.
Yes, virtual reality is not just used for gaming! The 360 degree and three dimensional virtual space provided with VR tech can be used to immerse students in a way unlike any other. Teachers can take classes through virtual field trips such as virtually recreated historical events, simulated exhibitions and perhaps even interact with avatars of educators and experts across the world. Google has already developed Google Expeditions for schools, so students can explore the Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China from the comforts of their classroom.
Besides, students will be able to directly learn and practise skills in a safe simulated environment. Medical students will be able to practice surgery without the need of a real body, architect students can construct hypothetical buildings to their heart’s content, chemistry students can mix and match deadly chemicals without worries and so much more. Complex mechanisms and scientific concepts will be much easier to comprehend when students are able to observe and even interact with them directly. You can observe some capabilities yourself with Tilt Bush, a room scale 3D painting VR app developed by Google.
A number of universities are already realising the potential of this revolutionary technology. For example, Newcastle University is using VR to guide students in the internal stages of child birth and pregnancy. Students there are even able to practice resuscitation if a newborn baby ceases to breathe. VR technology will undoubtedly make students engaged in a way that is remarkably unprecedented.
While still in the primitive stages, artificial intelligence can be used to teach students in dynamic ways that human educators are unable to. A.I.’s are able to analyse and process data in a speed that no human mind can match. This gives them the ability to track a student’s study progress, habits and skills and produce a more personalised and effective curriculum in response. A.I. tutors will disseminate and break down information in the way that is best for each individual person and also do so in a timely targeted manner.They can optimise specific learning parameters and goals, so students remain motivated in their education.
Even though, it is far from a reality now, the ultimate goal is an A.I. that appears human-like, mimics human verbal and non-verbal communication and connects with students nationalistically. Still, even today artificial intelligence is already applied in education. For example, Carnegie Learning’s “Mika” software utilises cognitive science and AI technologies to generate personalised tutoring and real-time feedback for college students. Also, more advanced chatbots are integrated with A.I. while some A.I. programmes are able to match you up with the most suitable tutor in their database.
In conclusion, technology makes the learning process better in many new and exciting ways. Educators need to embrace these new technologies and push academics into the 21st century. With more intelligent, creative, and skilled students, the future will look brighter already.