For better or worse, emerging technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and machine learning, in education are disrupting today’s world. Amidst this technological revolution and digital age, the education sector is undergoing a rapid transformation that’s clearly visible from the rise in EdTech – Educational Technology.
Here, we attempt to explore the importance of technology in education by highlighting the benefits as well as the challenges of incorporating technology in the education sector:
The Benefits of Technology in Education
Each and every student is unique in the way he or she learns. This is exactly where conventional teaching methods fail and technology could pave a better path. Since technology enables educators to cater to the unique learning styles of students and even learn when they actually want to, it levels the playing field. It gives everyone – even the ones with learning disabilities – an equal opportunity to learn, compete, and attain top quality education.
Technologies, such as computer adaptive learning software, allow all students to get to the finishing line by taking different, yet more suitable paths that are customised specifically for them.
2. Learning What Truly Matters
The use of technology in education is beneficial because it allows students to have access to updated and fresh content. Learning from outdated textbooks and course materials yields no value whatsoever. According to the World Economic Forum, this has become the norm in educational institutions where curriculums are not revised fast enough to include what’s new and relevant.
Technology implemented correctly often takes care of this. Plus, it even allows educators to alter the content according to suggestions given by students. This, in turn, ensures that students remain interested in learning given that they have a say in deciding what should be taught to them.
Technology makes learning fun and exciting. How? Through gamification!
Gamification transforms classrooms into play areas by increasing engagement, participation, and competition. Alex Nagurney, an assistant professor at University of Hawai and Patrick Smith, a designer at Texas State University gamified a particular course and noticed that student participation increased by 143 percent and quality of work also increased substantially.
All in all, gamification not only sparks an interest in students about learning but also ensures that they retain the knowledge they acquire. The key is to tailor the process of gamification according to the learning objectives of every particular course.
What’s even better is that gamification can be effectively used both in teaching and assessing students. After all, who wouldn’t love a final examination that’s in form of a game?
Now, with breakthroughs brought about by technology, education is not just limited to the four walls of a classroom. Technology has made sure that one can learn anything, anywhere.
While this is, undoubtedly, helpful to all students and adults committed to life long learning as they can learn whatever they want at a time or place that is convenient for them, it is even more beneficial for people who are unable to make it to educational institutions due to a number of reasons. Excuses such as, I cannot afford education, I do not have ample time to study, and I cannot commute to the school, college, or university, are no longer applicable as information is often just a mouse-click away.
5. Knowledge Gain
Technology promotes active-learning, increases engagement, and fosters a collaborative learning environment. While online quizzes, both before and at the end of lectures, help with active-learning, online polls and networking sessions ensure maximum participation and interaction among students and teachers. Eventually, all of these little things help students in acquiring as well as retaining what they learn. Isn’t just that the purpose of education?
Challenges of Using Technology in Education
Getting educational institutes and teachers worldwide who are resistant to change to incorporate technology in education is a big challenge. While some see technology as a threat to education – and their livelihoods? – others simply disregard it because they are either not comfortable with technological tools or simply view it as additional work that’s outside their job description.
RobotLAB – an online platform that works for implementation of technology in education – has discussed the relevant challenges in detail, including factors like the lack of personalized learning and comfort with the status quo.
Gone are the days of the traditional educational methods focused on memorisation and rote-learning. Now, it’s all about leveraging technology inside and outside classrooms to develop a student’s critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
However, it is important that we realize that the effectiveness of technology in education relies on how it is used. It’s a tool that, on one hand, can increase quality engagement between students and teachers, bring about improvements in pedagogy – the art of teaching – and promote learning; but on the other hand it can also promote cheating, lead to distractions, and give a selective few an unfair advantage over others.
While it is indeed clear that technology is essential in education and that there are substantial benefits of the use of technology in education; it is vital that we, as a progressive society, incorporate technology in an inclusive, holistic, and sensible manner to maximize our collective gain and minimise the risks associated with it.