With the rapid integration of technology and a sharp increase in its use, we have seen immense growth in the last few years. The transformation has impacted the education sector as well. With the help of technology, the way students are taught and the way they interact with their teachers and fellow students has evolved in recent years.
With the implementation of technology, classroom environments have changed a lot. Online classes and resources have also become popular among the students and are playing a major role in the education sector. Not just that; there are blogs and video tutorials to help students study and gain knowledge on almost any subject they struggle with.
It’s great how the touch of technology has made education so accessible across the globe. Let’s ponder over how technology has influenced education.
How the digital age has transformed learning
1. Peer-to-peer learning
Given how simple it’s become to stay connected to the people across the globe with the intervention of technology, students are now able to collaborate with their peers without having to worry about their geographical barriers.
The online learning materials have become accessible for students all over the world. This has allowed them to team up, share and discuss these materials with other students from different schools in other parts of the world.
There are various online forums like Quizlet, Tynker, where students from different countries can join and assist each other with their tasks and studies. It can work perfectly as an alternative option for regular classroom interactions. This way, students will share different insights or perspectives into each other’s assignments apart from discussing online material through such portals.
Moreover, students can discuss their innovative ideas and maintain seamless communication through these online platforms. Even academic institutes can initiate such processes.
2. A personalised approach in teaching and learning
The rapid integration of technology has provided us with the scope to personalise the process of learning. With the popularity of the online courses where students receive personalised attention from the teachers, students do have the edge over the conventional methods of education. Some of the prominent online learning platforms like EdX, Coursera, Udacity, or Udemy even have tie-ups with many of the premier universities of the world to offer online courses.
If this approach can be implemented on a larger scale, this will not just be beneficial for the students, but also for the teachers as well. When it comes to online courses, teachers often curate lessons based on the individual requirements of the students. Students who are availing the online courses feel at ease interacting with the teachers because of the interpersonal relationship that’s established at the very beginning of the class.
The institutions which have already adopted these online courses are already attracting a sizable population of students. The teachers are also benefitting from such programmes as they can seek direct feedback from the students, assess the papers more accurately. Also, since the class size is relatively small in online courses, teachers can interact with students in one-on-one sessions as well.
3. Digital textbooks and learning materials
Textbooks have been the source of information to the students for centuries. However, with the advent of the digital age, the dependence on textbooks has minimised. Now, students are more likely to rely on the internet to provide them with credible resources.
Unlike the regular textbooks, the internet presents a massive volume of information on every topic that students are taught in academic institutes.
With the constant development of various digital libraries and online learning materials, students no longer feel compelled to invest in regular textbooks. That said, the use of textbooks in the education sector is going to be over any time soon. That’s because the educators and authorities haven’t found any particular way to separate the genuine sources of information from the fake ones.
4. Modifying the curriculum in compliance with the technology
With the abundance of digital innovations in the education sector, it has become necessary to switch the teaching methods in compliance with the available resources. And technology has a pivotal role to play in that.
The traditional curriculum that’s set by the schools and colleges has to be modified to include more interactive and multimedia-rich lessons. And no surprises that technology can be quite effective in making all these developments happen.
It’s not just the students who will be benefited from these developments. Even the teachers can improve their assessment process with the assistance of customisable software.
5. Accessibility to online courses
When we talk about digital education, we usually think about online classrooms. Even though the traditional classroom is still a preferred method of imparting education, but online learning is definitely gaining prominence in major parts of the world.
Now, one of the greatest challenges regarding these online learning programmes is their affordability. Since the online classrooms require a proper, advanced setup, they often cost a little higher than the regular courses. This is one of the reasons why many students don’t enrol into programs as much as the regular programmes.
However, the tables are slowly beginning turn, in this case. The cost-effective learning programmes, identified as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are receiving a decent amount of exposure today. The more accessible such programs become, the number of students enrolling for these classes is on the rise.
6. More interactive methods to disseminate information
The availability of various details is one of the reasons for the popularity of online study materials. But it’s also how they’re presented which adds value to these methods. It’s no secret that students have already begun using their laptops and tablets in their classrooms to access study materials, and it’s only going to get bigger from here.
Apparently, the process of searching for online resources has become way more sophisticated than the previous decade. While the students have already warmed up to an alternative to the conventional learning materials, it’s high time that the educational institutes start promoting these alternative methods more openly.
If you explore all the educational apps and software that are available nowadays, you’ll know why students are getting comfortable with these online resources than the conventional form of learning.
7. Learning on the go with smartphones
The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which has been discussed earlier, allow the students to save and share course materials on their smartphones. It’s already become a norm for students to use their smartphones to access information aside from reading the textbooks. In future, the academic institutions all over the world can use the effectiveness of smartphones to help students learn important information.
The smartphone allows access to all sorts of amazing resources that are available online. Also, most of the online resources are designed, keeping the mobile-first technology in mind. Hence, most of the resources are compatible with using on mobile devices. In an era of smarter devices and faster connectivity, it’s more convenient for students to access the resources on the go with the help of their smartphones.
When we think of the interactive format of digital learning, smartphones clearly have a major significance. So, it’ll be appropriate to introduce the mobile-ready materials and courses for the students on a larger scale.
Besides, learning from a smartphone can unlock a world of opportunities for the students. This means they can now attend their part-time jobs and attend the classes without missing any opportunity to learn.
8. More emphasis on online research
Nowadays, most of the students rely on the internet for conducting initial research. That’s because it’s easier, more convenient and offers more sources of information in a less amount of time.
Even though online research may not always yield credible materials, it’s still practised widely by the students owing to its ease of access. The good thing is that online resources also include the digital versions of all the major textbooks as well. This means everything that you find at the library; you can get online as well.
Barriers to the digital inclusion of technology and overcoming them
Requires Management and Training
The emergence of edtech means that effective dissemination of learning requires that teachers are also well-versed with technology. But many educators believe that the internet and other digital tools demand additional attention which they would otherwise devote to the process of learning. These technologies have dramatically increased the range of content and skills about which they must be knowledgeable.
Implementing new technology also means there’s a need for IT professionals to help set it up, maintain it, and support teachers and students to use them. Clear communications among faculty, administration, and tech vendors can clarify how adopting a particular device, or system will benefit students and teachers alike.
This will help with the use of technology while teaching and learning. Also, to ensure such technology is not just “bells and whistles” with little actual value. Teachers also need proper training.
Makes tech disparity too apparent
Tech disparity indicates how much access students have to the necessary devices. The differences in access are evident between school districts, with more affluent districts having better resources, but it can also refer to differences among students in the same school, where students from wealthier families having greater access.
School authorities and administrators can take practical steps toward mending this tech divide. To deal with the disparity of accessing devices, schools can focus on technology that can be shared in classes. There’s also the alternative that can be used within the classroom, like the interactive projectors, as well as learning management systems that all students can access.
Bridging the tech divide isn’t simple, but for a fairer society with equal opportunity, it needs to be the focus of all efforts.
Maintaining technology becomes a laborious process
Adapting to technology and implementing them in the learning process can seem daunting. When planning to implement technology, it’s vital for institutions to engage with the right service providers or vendors and make sure you have the tech support in place.
It’s important to understand whether the service providers offer facilities for training or onboarding, and what their reliability statistics and support functions are. After all, the students need to go to someone if the technology falters at any point.
But it’s imperative for both students and teachers to allow themselves the time to learn how to use something. They should also receive adequate tech support that they need to smoothly carry out their responsibilities.
Reduced real, face-to-face interactions
No amount of technology can disregard the skilled, inspired teachers. Technology shouldn’t be treated as the solution to ensure a healthy, vigorous learning culture; it’s simply a pedagogical tool that’s only as valuable as the instructor who wields it.
Face to face interactions between teacher and student can help students not just learn facts, but to interpret, and apply these facts into useful knowledge. Through proper face to face interactions, teachers can help students develop self-esteem, confidence and emotional maturity.
Particularly in disadvantaged circumstances, teachers can offer a comfort zone and security. In fact, teachers can take a stand and reduce the cyberbullying that’s more often, the consequences of social media use.
Some of the trends discussed here already in practice. Though they are implemented by a limited number of institutes, they have made a significant impact in the education sector. A proper upgrade of the learning process in the digital age is only possible when there’s a significant reform in the education system.