Today's students have the life compared to how learning was conducted in the past. Rather than just sitting in a dull schoolhouse each and every day listening to teachers, the modern classroom is filled with technology that advances education.
Some people might think that technology is a bad thing and that it hinders our brain's ability to learn new information. That's true to some extent when we look at technologies that "numb our brain" like social media, Netflix, and others.
However, the 21st century has spawned a plethora of educational technology. Let's take a look at how ed-tech is changing the modern classroom.
There are many concepts in education that are quite difficult to understand on pure imagination alone. Things like how an engine works, how a ball bounces, or even things like how chemical reactions take place. New technology has allowed digital simulations to permeate into the modern classroom and get a more "hands-on approach in topics they otherwise never would be able to.
Digital simulations in the classroom also help teachers who are tasked with explaining concepts not directly in their wheelhouse.
Put a modern high school or college student in the room with someone who went to college in say, the 1980s, and one thing will become evident, the way self-learning occurs has changed drastically. Research 40 years ago meant hunkering down in the library and reading books for hours on end. Many of today's students have access to their libraries online, if that's even the place where they would conduct research...
Most modern students now have a plethora of resources at their fingertips to find sources and conduct their own research. Modern technology has democratized information to an extreme extent.
Communication & the digital classroom
Communication is a vital part of the transfer of information in any educational setting. Technology is helping aide this process through virtual classrooms and collaboration tools. These are online workspaces where students can communicate with one another, take quizzes, and plug into the school network whenever they would like.
Pre-technology, students would only have the opportunity to ask questions and learn during school hours. However, now, they have the opportunity to do that during all hours of the day.
Self-paced learning is likely a concept you know, and you likely either love it or hate it. It certainly isn't for everyone.
Technology has allowed self-paced learning to come into prominence in both the structured and unstructured educational systems around the world. There are now schools that use self-paced learning mixed with group-paced learning to teach. These methods can be highly effective for students that are able to focus and keep up.
These online self-paced learning tools also serve another benefit: they get students excited about their own education. Forcing students to manage their own learning has been shown to increase excitement for new subjects.
Essentially every aspect of the modern classroom can be presented and prepared through a piece of technology. If schools trusted students to learn on their own, though they probably shouldn't, students could complete the entirety of their lives' education sitting in a chair in their own room.
That includes taking tests.
While it's arguably hard to ensure that a student isn't using help while taking online tests, new technology like eye trackers, online monitored testing and timed quizzes make the process a little easier for educators. Eliminating cheating during assessments is probably never going to happen, but new technology makes at-home test taking about as cheater-proof as in-person testing.
Free learning is an interesting new educational concept that has sprung up in the technological revolution. Thousands of universities across the world now supply their coursework to anyone who wants it over the internet.
This means that you can essentially "get a degree" in anything you want without actually having to pay for it. Of course, you also don't get the degree either.
Free learning can also be referred to as open-source learning, the ability to learn whatever you want, whenever you want, without any barriers to entry.
Making education exciting
Computers, tablets, phones, projectors, interactive models, all of this technology increases the engagement rates of students in the classroom and makes learning about mitochondria just a little bit more exciting. All of this technology and it's built-in versatility allows teachers to increase the scope of their lessons and dive deeper into each subject since information can be presented in a quicker, easier to understand manner.
We touched on the idea of collaboration in the classroom earlier when we discussed how technology has improved communication, but it needs to be expanded upon. Technological tools in the classroom allow students to work together more seamlessly.
They remove the need for fitting in outside group work around tedious schedules. Through asynchronous communication, a means of communicating while not expecting an immediate response, students can collaborate while not needing their teammates active at that time.
The different ways that technology helps education are just the tip of the iceberg in the entire educational system. Truth is, without technology, many people today would not be as smart as they are.
There's a lot to be said about humanity's now endless access to knowledge and what it does for students across the globe. Tech doesn't look to be leaving the classroom anytime soon... nor should it.