Many experts believe that technology has a significant role in education. However, the path to adopting technology for learning is not easy. We’ll discuss both sides of the coin to determine how technology should make learning more effective.
Technology is now part of the education system. Schools, colleges, and universities around the world are shifting from traditional to tech-based learning. Even schools in remote locations are gradually adopting technology, even if it is currently limited to online classes and virtual learning.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns have increased the adoption rate of technology by educational institutions. Many had no choice but to invest in alternate methods to continue the classes. Institutions that began early got a better start as they had the necessary infrastructure to digitalize teaching. Furthermore, there are several EdTech tools in the market, be it the various LMS systems, online question and answer generators, or open-source digital resources for teachers.
But how should technology influence learning in today’s times? How should it be correctly and effectively implemented by educational institutions? There’s no denying the challenges faced by educators when adopting technology for teaching. How can schools and universities overcome the challenges and maximize the advantages of using technology for education? Let’s find out.
Why Is Technology Important in Learning?
The changing scenario across the globe has made it vital to include technology in learning. However, how you use technology in the classroom makes all the difference. For example, if students use smart devices like iPad or tablets for learning, it’s important to determine what role the devices have in their lives. Technology in learning is much more than being cool or trendy or boasting of providing a smart device to each student. It is about how the teacher and the students use the device.
The use of online LMS made it easy to conduct virtual classes. Schools that didn’t have the necessary infrastructure asked teachers to rely on online apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc., to conduct classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here, technology became necessary to maintain communication between teachers and students. It helped impart education and conduct classes when traditional classroom teaching was not possible.
Similarly, many universities in the US are creating free online resources for teachers. A teacher from any school can access the resources and download the study materials, worksheets, test papers, and much more. There are free and paid platforms for teachers to access educational resources and sell their creations.
Automated test question generators like PrepAI are used to create surprise tests and quizzes instantly. You can use the tool to process text/ video content and convert it into different types of questions. This allows teachers to save time and conduct assessments without adding to their workload.
Technology is just as important for students to learn new things and implement their ideas. In fact, the role of technology in learning should be to facilitate the consumption of new knowledge as well as to put them into practice. Patricia Brown, the director of technology for the Ladue School, emphasizes the need for equity in classrooms. She says that technology should not be a consumption tool but provide real opportunities for students to learn. Also, technology should not create hindrances for students due to the lack of access.
When the aim of using technology is to create equal opportunities for all students, it should not create another kind of imbalance where students with access to technology and advanced devices have better learning opportunities than those who don’t. Another aspect to consider is whether technology is a distraction or a facilitator of learning. The responsibility lies with the educators to ensure this.
Challenges Faced by Schools When Using Technology for Learning
- Lack of infrastructure at schools and colleges
- Lack of resources for teachers
- Imbalance in access to technology and tools
- Resistance to adopting technology
- Lack of professional training to effectively use technology for teaching
- No strategic planning for the adoption of technology
- The risk of virtual burnout due to overdependence on technology
- Data privacy and data security
- Creating awareness about online safety
- Reduction in face-to-face/ personal interaction between students
- Technology as a distraction rather than an enabler
Fortunately, the challenges can be overcome with proper planning and understanding of technology’s role in education. It means that educational institutions and teachers should understand what they expect from adopting EdTech. This will allow them to limit the risk of technological side effects and focus on the benefits. You can hire offshore EdTech experts to guide you with the process and revamp your existing system through digitalization.
How Can Technology be Used in Effective Learning?
The advantages of using technology in education outweigh its disadvantages. Your intent has to be on effectively maximizing the benefits/ uses of technology to create a cohesive and interactive learning system.
- Technology Makes Learning Exciting
Technology engagement in the classroom makes it a better space for students to learn. Students like fun activities and will show more interest in the subject/ topic when they like the teaching methods. Using videos in the classroom to explain a new topic will help students pay more attention and easily visualize the content.
For example, students will find it easy to recall the image of the human digestive system when they see it. Illustrations, 2D and 3D presentations, etc., make learning fun and exciting. This helps make students show interest in subjects they don’t like.
- Preparing Students for a Better Future
The role of technology will continue to grow in the future. Children must be prepared to navigate such a world with confidence. By integrating technology with education, children from marginal sections of society will have a chance to learn technology and use it as effectively as children from privileged backgrounds.
Furthermore, children can be trained to understand the pitfalls of excessively relying on technology and made aware of the dangers of the dark web. You can train them to ensure data privacy and avoid being a victim of scammers/ hackers/ online traffickers, etc.
- Promoting Self-Learning and Personalization
With technology-based learning, the content and learning methods can be personalized to suit each student’s capacity and preferences. For example, one student may learn faster with visual content, while another may prefer audio content. Technology also promotes self-learning.
Teachers record lessons and upload them for students to watch and learn on their own. Students also use the internet to find out more information about the topic, read different articles, and consider different perspectives. Moreover, students can pace their learning progress to suit their strengths and weaknesses.
- Collaboration Between Students
Teachers can give project work to students and ask them to collaborate and work in teams. Technology makes it easy for students to stay in touch, exchange ideas, and collaborate to complete the project. They don’t have to personally meet each other to work together.
This encourages teamwork. A few LMS allow teachers to keep track of the students’ progress during the project. It ensures that each student gets an opportunity to contribute and also reduces the risk of bullying (as the teacher will be monitoring their interactions).
- Reduce a Teacher’s Burden
Teachers have endless work to complete each day. They have to manage teaching and non-teaching tasks. This is stressful and can lead to exhaustion. With technology, teachers can automate recurring tasks like curriculum creation and test generation.
PrepAI has been helping several educators save time spent on manually creating assessments. Teachers can conduct a surprise test or a quiz at a moment’s notice. This increases their productivity and performance, which in turn, has a positive impact on students’ learning.
- Student-Centric Learning Model
Children are curious by nature, and technology allows schools to create student-centric learning models by facilitating curiosity-driven engagement. Engaging content nudges students to explore the topic and make use of online resources to increase their knowledge.
They can make their projects more compelling by gathering data from real life and analyzing it to present their opinions on the subject. This encourages students to expand their horizons instead of limiting their knowledge to what is taught in the classrooms.
Education Technology in the Classroom
Technology is used in various ways to impart education and facilitate learning. The role of technology is broadly divided into the following:
- Full-Time Online Learning
Students and teachers use technology and LMS for learning. They will not have to visit the school. Even exams are conducted online. This enables students to join multiple courses simultaneously, irrespective of their geographical location. Teachers can also teach from home and invest their free time in side hustles.
- Blended Learning
Blended learning is a combination of online and offline learning. It is integrated learning where technology is used in classrooms to make lessons interesting. For example, AR/ VR (augmented reality/ virtual reality) devices are used to create a real-life-like experience in the classroom.
A history lesson can be made more engaging by taking the students on a virtual tour of the setting right from the classroom. Teachers also use tools like translators (to teach students with language barriers) and automated test generators to reduce workload while enhancing the quality of education.
- Open Educational Resources
Open resources are made available to teachers and students. These resources include syllabus, curriculum, study material for each subject, worksheets, project materials, digitized textbooks, reference resources, and so on.
However, such open resources need to be of high quality. They have to be error-free and accurate. Misleading information, bias, and discriminatory data can affect learning and encourage stereotypes. Those responsible for updating and maintaining open educational resources should ensure the integrity of the materials shared with educators and students.
What Impact Is Technology Having on Learning Outcomes?
The impact of technology on learning outcomes is varied. While some studies show that students who use iPads in the classroom are more advanced, there is a risk of overuse of technology. The success of technological adoption in education depends on how it is used. Application of the newly gained knowledge is just as important.
Consider this scenario. You create a slide show with embedded videos to teach a topic to the students. This makes the classroom session more engaging. But what will students do with this knowledge? How will they use it? Can they use the information to create a project of their own? Can they use it in a debate/ discussion to support their argument? Are students able to use technology naturally as a seamless part of learning?
The answers to these questions differ from one educational institution to another. The success of adopting EdTech for learning depends on your priorities. The kind of EdTech tools you choose depends on factors such as:
- Existing infrastructure
- Teachers’ and students’ needs
- Challenges to overcome, etc.
To overcome resistance from teachers, management and EdTech professionals should get to the root of the problem instead of offering generalized suggestions and alternatives. This will encourage teachers to be more accepting of new technology.
Simply put, technology will have a positive impact when you use the right EdTech tools and create an environment for teachers and students to adopt blended learning. A proactive approach is necessary to combine technology and curriculum instead of trying to force-fit one with the other.
Technology should positively influence learning for this generation, and it is definitely possible to make it happen. Educators and EdTech professionals must collaborate to ensure that the tools facilitate learning and the curriculum is flexible enough to accommodate the use of technology. Both should go hand in hand to build a holistic learning environment where students can thrive.
Data privacy, innovation, teacher training, and budget-related concerns can be handled when you have a strong foundation and know exactly what you want for your educational institution. Technology creates a win-win situation for students, parents, teachers, and management.