By Callum McPhillips
Technology is constantly evolving. As technology develops, children are developing skills outside of the classroom by utilising new forms of technological apps and devices. Whether it’s a new video game or social media platform, these are skills that are undervalued inside the classroom. Being able to continually adapt to new, advancing platforms is a valuable trait in the modern job market. It is thought that 85% of jobs in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. This is why the educational system is taking significant strides in attempting to combine tech and education. It is thought that the familiarity of technology inside the classroom will engage students. Honing their ability to adapt and learn new technology platforms, will go a long way in assisting their academic development. This will stand them in good stead when it comes to needing to adapt in order to develop their future careers.
Technology’s role in education comes in different forms. Some examples include AI, VR, Mobile learning, Gamification, and Online courses. Which type of tech is utilised for which students can depend on numerous factors, such as the age and key stage of the students. For example, gamification is generally used for lower key stages, whilst online courses are available for university students who are able to access these 24/7.
Improved engagement and accessibility for students
As quickly as technology is growing outside of the classroom, textbooks and whiteboards are falling out of favour inside of it.
The use of laptops and tablets in classrooms is rapidly increasing. These devices enable multi-device synchronisation between students and teachers, improving interaction and communication between the class. In fact, 75% of educators believe that by 2026, textbooks will have been entirely replaced by electronic devices.
As the majority of students are now subjected to technology in their everyday lives, sometimes even more so than the educator, this enables them to have more control in class, in a positive way. This familiarity with technology transforms the lesson into more of a collaborative discussion, rather than one party feeding information to the other. This increased level of independence encourages engagement between students, baring more similarities to the professional workplace rather than school.
Online courses, in particular, MOOC’s (Massive open online courses), enable students to access educational information, possibly broadcasted from the other side of the world. In 2011, a Stanford University professor offered a free online course in AI. 160,000 students spread across 190 countries observed this course. This level of accessibility can educate students who would otherwise have limited access due to being in a different country.
Technology in education can also level the playing field for students who come from lower-income families. This gives them the opportunity to learn how to use different types of technology and software, which would otherwise be restricted. Technology is so prevalent professionally nowadays. It is essential that students from less privileged backgrounds are not left behind due to financial restrictions.
Students can now also gain access to learning resources online, which were previously only available to teachers. This gives more flexibility and control to students. This enables students to read up on classes in their own time, even before classes. Time in the classroom is then spent interacting and problem-solving rather than being talked at, which can be an inefficient method of teaching for many students.
Helps teachers concentrate on the human element
There is a common misconception that added technology in the classroom can reduce the importance of the teacher. However, it is the opposite. As previously discussed, the more technology is integrated into the classroom; the more involved and independent students can become. Technology can also assist the teachers in with simple administrative tasks such as marking attendance and tracking test scores. All of this gives the teacher more time and freedom to concentrate on the more practical, human elements of teaching.
This combination of face-to-face and online learning is known as blended learning. The flipped classroom method, for example, lets students educate themselves with public resources at their own pace, then in class, the teacher can collaborate and challenge them on what they have learned. Of course, online learning and resources require an element of trust and maturity from students, which is why it is more commonly utilised by college and university students.
Digital testing is another element of technology in education that can benefit teachers. Traditional testing frameworks are useful; however, they can be time-consuming. Digital-testing, on the other hand, will automatically track student performance over time. AI can then use these test results to customise a personal development scheme for each student. The teacher can then follow student performance from here and intervene in any area they feel the student needs particular assistance.
Economic and environmental impact
Blended learning reduces the amount of time spent physically in the classroom. This can benefit teaching establishments and students economically and environmentally, as well as educationally.
Rather than relying on many smaller classrooms for teaching numerous classes, schools have begun to introduce fewer, but larger learning areas. These areas reduce the amount of space needed to facilitate students, reducing the establishment’s costs and environmental impact. When students are able to utilise online teaching at home, there is less need for a smaller, more compact area for teachers to lecture students individually. Instead, students use self-directed learning, where they can read up on resources at home, then time in the classroom is spent discussing and completing tasks.
At the current rate at which technology is developing, it is crucial that the educational system doesn’t get left behind. The students themselves will adapt outside of the classroom, however, the more they advance whilst traditional instructional methods stagnate, the more disconnected students can become from learning. Steps are being made in the right direction, with online classes and tablets in classrooms becoming more accessible. However, if we are to get the most out of students, the educational system needs to adapt to them rather than vice versa.
In this age of technology and social media, students and young people are encouraged to express themselves and be independent. If we try and force outdated resources and teaching methods onto them, compared to the modern, innovative means of technology they are exposed to on the outside of the classroom, this will only discourage their learning and hinder their development.
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