Can Technology Alone Improve Student Learning?
What will define education of the future? What changes will happen?
Many experts in education have different viewpoints on this subject. The only apparent thing is the fact that technology plays and will continue to play an important role in teaching and learning. It seems that in some time it can even replace the personality of a teacher, who knows what may happen in future?
Obviously, modern people have become dependent upon technology. It develops so rapidly that it seems that in a couple of years we will fly to other planets and have robots to serve and work for us. The same thing happens in the modern classrooms, which are gradually transformed into technological labs. We used to see only record players about 20 years ago, but today the number and diversity of devices appearing in the classroom are impressive.
According to the statistical data, over 250 million of the US population own mobile phones and 86% of them have smartphones. Over 60% of all EU residents possess phones and about 15% of them mention to have two devices. What is interesting a great number of those users are kids, teenagers, and students. Other interesting figures say that 56% of US students use either their laptop or desktop computer in the classroom regularly. The same number of learners wish their instructors used more different devices in learning. Over 50% of students have recently taken online courses and 92% of students show interest in personalized learning and online degrees. Doesn’t that mean that a great shift has already taken place in education due to technology?
Though it may seem that students use technology only for fun, this viewpoint is far from being truthful. Even a simple online search and browsing the search results are beneficial for brain work, let alone hundreds of other things you can do with a laptop or mobile phone in your hands.
Undoubtedly, students do not refer modern technology entirely to educational devices, but still, they agree that technology can and must be used in learning. Let’s take the most popular devices and see how learners use it in education. It may seem unbelievable but even elementary school children do not follow behind their high school colleagues.
For example, the percentage of US high school pupils who use computers in education is 76%, while 66% of elementary school pupils do that too. The total numbers per other devices are not less interesting: 71% of students use smartphones, 62% use tablets and only 3% refuse to use any these devices.
That means that students are active users of technology not only in everyday life but also in educational purposes. Moreover, its use is a kind of boost and encouragement for them as they do not have to overcome some obstacles and make use of devices familiar to them.
It seemed impossible to imagine education without teachers but nowadays it is a reality. Many learners complete their degrees on their own. They acquire knowledge and are assessed by computer software or online services. That means that it is possible to study without teachers, but there is another question: who will prepare learning materials, who will create these helpful tools and many others.
It is natural for every person to see a personality of a teacher in the classroom, but a technological process has changed his or her role there. Today teachers can make the learning process more personalized and every student will gain knowledge at his own pace. Moreover, teachers now can only assist but not rule the whole educational procedure. Modern teaching methods and skills focus on the assistive role of teachers: they should only hint students, whose task is to find solutions to one or another problem themselves.
Another problem with emerging technology is unawareness of teachers how to implement it into the learning process efficiently. That means that as soon as new technology is invented, it should be immediately assessed by educators and researchers to find the most effective way to use it in studying.
We always say that technology can and does enhance the learning process but how does it happen? There are many ways how it can benefit education, but we will focus only on the most important ones:
1. Encouragement and interest
Old-fashioned educational programs can’t keep up with the rapid development of the modern world. Students lose a desire to learn all that stuff, while technology can show the importance of this knowledge in practice and involve students.
9 of 10 students agree that it is much easier for them to learn new information using technology.
3. Preparation for a digital future of the world
It is obvious that with every new day we become more and more dependent on technology, so it is vital to be an experienced user of all those novelties that appear today.
4. Availability of learning for everyone
Only technology can help you connect with people or make rare materials accessible. That means that today everyone is equal in getting high-level knowledge and achieving success.
The other side of the medal is not so promising. We can be overwhelmed with emotions due to numerous benefits it provides, but it is important not to forget that technology has its drawbacks too. Here are the most apparent ones:
No matter how determined you are to learn something, it is impossible not to distract using one or another device. Studying online you may be astonished by a number of ads drawing your attention. Using a 3D printer it is always more interesting to make fun and create something hilarious. The Internet access in the classroom provides a variety of opportunities for social networks. The list can be endless…
As much as modern devices can be helpful, they can be good sources for cheating too. There is no need to make your brain work as the answer can always be found on the Web or received from other people.
3. Health issue
The most frustrating thing is the influence of most devices on people’s health. Though we never see that electromagnetic radiation it is always present. Let alone that detrimental influence on the eye-sight, back or brain work.
The only obvious conclusion that can be made is the fact that technology is helpful but it is early for teachers to retire. Technology itself has little value for education if you do not know how to make use if it. Educators appear to be a necessity as only they can show how to benefit from technology use most efficiently. Nevertheless, the cases of successful completion of numerous courses and degrees and their rising popularity prove that technology alone can and improves learning.
Originally published at Can Technology Alone Improve Student Learning?