How does technology benefit education?
The role of technology in education has evolved swiftly from whiteboards to paper, into a versatile learning tool. Technology is changing the way students learn, record information and asses their progress. It is also however, changing the role of the teacher. In history teachers or tutors were a primary source for learning, sharing skills and knowledge in a particular field.
Today, there is a massive amount of information available to us on the internet. From the touch of a button children, have more opportunities to learn about the world around them and have their all-important questions answered instantly. Various education forums report that students are more technologically advanced than many teachers today, putting teachers at a decided disadvantage in the classroom. It can be a struggle to hold the attention of a class and keep interest, without the right tools.
Bringing technology in to the classroom, allows teachers to keep up with the learning demands of the 21st century and this blog is a collation of our top four reasons why technology is an advantage to education.
1. Technology is giving students the ability to learn anywhere and at any time
Our first benefit to technology in education, is its portability. Not only does technology works as a tool to communicate ideas in a more efficient and engaging way, the addition of technology such as tablets in to a learning environment enables the delivery of educational services anywhere and at any time. Taking the classroom outdoors can be far more engaging for children, than inside a classroom.
Secondly, it also enables those students that might not be able to make it school, still feel a part of an inclusive environment. Children that want to learn and are living for example in long care health establishments, are still able to receive tuition remotely through the addition of technology. Today, AI and the use of robotics is allowing children to be present at school without actually being there in person. The company ‘Double’ has created an interactive product that enables the remote student to join the classroom in real-time, interacting with other students one-on-one and the ability to participate in group discussions.
Opportunities for communication and collaboration have also been expanded by technology, meaning students can collaborate on group projects using software tools such as Office 365, Skype and Google docs. For children living remotely, it can be riskier taking their everyday route to school. Social or environmental factors may mean that some children may be missing out on lessons and valuable education time. Applications such as Skype can be used to teach children from home. Teachers can work one on one with a student or as a group via the video chat and still being able to teach when they are unable to make it to school. Technology working remotely means collaborations between students can still take place, by using platforms that all students can access.
The four walls of a classroom are no longer a barrier to us, as advances in technology brings these new ways of learning and collaborating. Using technology in a way that is more inclusive to students, means better emotional well-being and a sense of belonging in the school environment.
2. Technology is providing a way for teachers to personalize their teaching methods, making lessons more engaging
Every class is different, and every student learns differently. With this in mind, technology is giving teachers the capabilities to accommodate unique learning styles by personalising lessons and individual tasks to the needs of their students. Although the role of a teacher has always been to create engaging learning experiences, older methods of conducting a classroom simply don’t work for today’s “plugged-in” students. The introduction of technology to the classroom has provided the opportunity to take personalising lessons to a whole new level.
A common problem when teaching, is a disconnection between teachers and their students. Gaining the focus of a classroom full of active and eager students can be hard if you aren’t using the same language. By incorporating technology in to lesson plans, students can be given more engaging tasks whilst learning how to collaborate and research. As well as this, students can gain a better understanding of how to generate and interpret information more efficiently. More interesting ways of learning can be delivered through other forms of media such as videos, audio clips, and interactive games. At primary school level, students can learn the basics of spelling, counting and other educational lessons through computer games that make learning fun. At secondary level students can execute their ideas and understanding through a presentation or use of an animation software, enabling more creativity and interaction. Students who are visual learners benefit a great deal from using technology, because most of the time it is both auditory and visual instruction simultaneously. The use of technology gives students better options and freedom to express themselves beyond the traditional essay, textbook, or worksheet.
Technology allows the development of more dynamic lesson plans that can easily be adapted for particular students or groups. This way of teaching creates personalised value in lessons, as oppose to teacher-led discussions or textbook work where there is an assumption of a generic learning group.
3. Technology is a benefit to students by enabling them to retain more information and research more
In conducted studies the use of technology in the classroom has shown to increase the engagement of students, helping them to retain a larger amount of content and for longer periods of time. Rather than memorizing facts, they can learn by doing activities and interacting with the lesson and their peers. For some student’s this way of learning provides a better overall experience than more traditional methods and this is potentially giving students a better understanding of the curriculum.
A search engine like ‘Google’ is always available and quick in its response, that we always have access to a large fraction of human knowledge. Over time this is giving the human brain space to retain more information and a wider field of knowledge. By evolving this way, we have adapted to keep only the most important pieces of information and store less important pieces away on the hub that is the world wide web. Having less to memorise means we have more space to learn and in theory this is making the human race smarter as we evolve.
4. Technology can encourage self-paced learning
As stated in point two, teachers who are personalising their lessons to the needs of their students by using technology, can help their students to also advance at their own pace. Through learning management systems, those students who need a little more time and help, can have extra practice outside of lessons with guided exercises that are exclusively designed for them. Likewise, children who need more of a challenge can have their tasks adjusted to be more difficult. Using technology give students the option to access resources online whenever they need to, and teachers can see which students might need extra help, by marking their work digitally.
Another benefit of technology for self-paced learning is it can help where parental contribution may not be able to. Some parents and guardians can have extremely busy schedules and may not have the time to aid their child with homework. By using technology as a tool, parents and guardians can check their child’s attendance, assignments and grades through online platforms. Additionally, for those may not be able to make parents evening, they can still meet with teachers via web conferencing or other online collaboration tools.
There will always be negative sides to technology, however by reading this blog I hope I have opened your mind to the possibilities and the many positives of incorporating technology in to education. For any teachers or educators reading this, technology itself can be expensive, however the investment can also help schools save money such as; the use of email to send documents instead of printed memos, interactive lessons and digital textbooks. In an ideal world every teacher would love their students to engage in opportunities first hand, but not every school has the resources and budget to do so. When this is the case, both the flow of a lesson and the quality education can suffer. Thanks to modern day technology, students can use the internet to travel around the world from the comfort of the classroom! By accessing free online resources and attending virtual “webinars” put on by museums and other educational establishments, schools can save money and still give their students a fulfilling and educational experience. For the future of education, technology seems to be here to stay.