Technology has taken education to the next level, breaking the barriers of classroom walls. In 2014 students who had enrolled in a Chinese language class at Springfield High School, Ohio got a lifetime opportunity to interact with students of a high school in China through a live chat sttession conducted via. Skype. The excitement of both sets of students had no limits, wherein they discussed topics ranging from language to culture to their classrooms etc. The insight they got from this live interaction was much deeper than what they would have got from reading books and listening to lectures.
As we advance into the 21st century, we realise that technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Technological innovations have integrated into every sphere of the society, redefining the way we conduct our daily activities. It changed the way we work, shop, interact and also learn.
Technological advancements are inevitable as that’s the way the world is moving. It has also incorporated into the world of education where children get to experience a new way of learning and educators get to practise more effective methods of teaching. Many schools have already implemented technology driven tools to educate and prepare their students for the future. Some technological innovations that have re-defined the Education System are:
(a) Tablet PCs – they are the future of mobile devices in the classrooms. Today’s students are experts in using mobile phones as they grow up seeing them. Realising this, many schools especially in the west are taking advantage of mobile phones as an important tool of learning. Tablet PCs with internet connectivity give them access to various useful educational Apps, allows them to take notes, read up on topics relevant to their subject of studies etc. As more and more exams are going online today, the use of Tablet PCs can prepare the students for the future.
(b) Interactive whiteboards – are dry erasable whiteboards that comes with an LCD projector. Whatever seen on a computer screen can be replicated on this whiteboard. As we all know, impact of communicating a matter visually is deeper than doing it verbally. Therefore the objective of these whiteboards is to make the students more engaging.
(c) Google’s Apps for Education– around 45 million students and teachers around the world use this App which is a bundle of cloud based Email, Calendar, and document sharing products available free to schools. Google’s Classroom is a free App that teachers can use to create and organise assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes.(d) Digital library – unlike conventional libraries, digital libraries are not depended on the availability of space to preserve books and other reference articles. Many schools in the 21st century are opting to have digital libraries that can store any e-Learning materials like eBooks, slides, projects prepared by students, contributions by alumni etc.
(e) Microsoft’s Skype – world is becoming a global village. Schools are taking initiatives to expose their students to various opinions and cultures through technological innovations like Skype. Skype gives the students a platform to have real–time interactions with students of their age-group in a different part of the world. They also make virtual field-trips possible. Educators can also take a cue from the best classroom practises followed in other parts of the world.
(f) Flipped Classrooms – Classrooms across nations have begun to adopt this new technology where the students would be asked to watch lecture videos by teachers and other experts at home as a part of their homework and their class–time would be utilised for discussions. Khan Academy is an example of how online courses have become a popular instructional medium of teaching.
(g) Children with special needs – the impact of technology to provide alternative ways of learning for students with special needs has been profound. Assistive technology has benefited students with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities to learn and communicate better. Examples of some of them are: Text-to-Speech software – that helps students with reading issues, Seat Cushions – for kids with sensory processing and attention issues, Word prediction software, Speech recognition software, etc.
(h) e-Learning – various e-learning centres are being opened in under-developed countries that open doors to education to the people there. The e-Learning centre in Djibouti with the help of SOS Children’s Villages and German partners is giving the young people of Djibouti a chance to learn in-demand job skills and escape from a life of poverty.
Incorporation of technology in education has been a debatable topic among many educationists and parents due to the challenges faced to incorporate it. Convincing parents and teachers about the benefits that technology driven education offers is one of the biggest challenges.
Use of technology in education is depended on Internet connectivity that requires more bandwidth and infrastructure. This is an added cost to the institution.
Developing countries like India still face internet connectivity issues in rural areas. Therefore implementing technology-driven education in rural schools becomes a task.
Many teachers are still sceptical about the use of technology in education as they fear it might replace their role in future. So the challenge here is to convince them to incorporate technology as an aid in teaching rather than a threat.
In the era of Social Networking, online communities of like-minded people are many.Fourth Ambit is an example of how student, college and alumni communities have made a significant presence on an online platform to connect and engage with the key-stakeholders.
In today’s dynamic world, we are surrounded by technology and in no way do we see ourselves going backwards. Embracing technology does not devalue the importance of teachers rather it assists them in providing a more effective learning experience for the students. Schools must therefore strike a balance between technology-enabled and nature-based teaching to equip its students for a better tomorrow.