Technology has been steadily evolving over the last decade and sweeping across sectors and industries like never before. The education sector hasn’t stayed untouched. Educators and students are basking in the benefits of this technological penetration alike.
With newer products being launched every day, students have it easier to access what they want, when they want, and from where they want.
Today, both teachers and students are making use of different software and technologies to enhance their outreach to information. There is so much happening with technological advancements through Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence that it requires a shift in philosophy-towards delivering and accepting the knowledge being shared. Today, we are witnessing remodelled classrooms via online tutoring. We have various platforms to transfer and access online courses, there are opportunities to attend live sessions, and ask real-time questions.
So this technological outreach is for real when it comes to the education sector and it’s disrupting the ways traditional methods of imparting education worked. Wherein, everything was just standardized towards offering a certain course to a larger audience.
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The World is Waking Up to Personalized Learning
Traditional ways of learning worked under set parameters and adopted a fixed path. However, technology-enabled models to bring the promise of customization and personalization to suit the audience. While one may require an objective approach for a certain course, there may still be a unique style of learning some other topic.
How does technology impact learning for students and teachers?
Technology has helped us challenge the age-old paradigms of transferring knowledge through a defined means, in a defined manner, to the defined ‘set of receivers’. But it’s time we challenge the ‘set mind-set’. Wherein, ‘I’ require a different approach and my colleague requires a different one to understand the same concept.
There are ‘Authoring Software’ to enable teachers to create their own set of instructions and personalize the course which makes tough courses such as Math, English easy. There are simulations and educational games to make the audience enjoy and learn, what could have been otherwise boring.
Technologies like Starfall helps kindergartners learn the alphabet through ‘phonics’; ABCya involves students from kindergarten till grade 5 get engaged in educational games to enhance their learning skills, while Dreambox is an online mathematics tool by way of a video game that engages the students in a video game environment while helping them understand complex maths problems.
There are instant online tutoring websites available for tough subjects. Students can easily find online tutors for English, Math & many such subjects in the click of the button to supplement their school learning.
With more and more modes and means opening up to gain the best understanding one can ever get on a subject, educators have their hands full. They need to align the level of knowledge and understanding that a student already has, with what is actually required, and guide them on how to fill the technology gap to attain the most of it. We can’t, of course, run away from the fact that this sudden bombardment of multiple technologies finds us well prepared. No, we have to accept the fact that our workforce gets saturated at a point and we constantly need to replenish their technological requirements.
And, with so much happening for the students of today, educators need to ensure how the students build the mind-set and skills to constantly learn on the go. It’s all about achieving that empowerment where they understand what drives their learning skills and the best mode to get that desired knowledge for themselves? It is the very educators who can still hold that lamp of light for these students.
Artificial Intelligence is Helping Us Cross the Bridge
As we delve deep into the roots, Artificial Intelligence is all but trying to leverage the best attributes of an educator and the machine. We are all aspiring towards a better combination that is more student-focused. With advancements every passing year, AI will most certainly help with differentiating an individual from the other 30+ students in the class. Yes, we are talking of developing individualistic learning modules: throwing challenges, identifying learning gaps, and preparing modules to bridge that gap for student X. The day isn’t far when the machine will begin reading a student’s facial expressions to identify what’s wrong and how it needs to personalize his learning experience.
Beyond offering access to classes being conducted around the globe for students separated by geographies, AI offers specialized classes for students with visual and hearing impairments. Presentation Translator is a plug-in that translates dialogues in real-time to create precise subtitles for its audience.
Transcending the Technology Evolution: An Educator’s Growing Role
Teachers and educators aren’t replaceable. They may use different modes to impart education today, but they are still doing what is required and desired of them. Today, they demand more respect and say in an educational institution’s functioning. How things are working with respect to how they should. They can make suggestions on better ways to impart education.
Technologies help collect and analyse vast amounts of data to decipher the correct information, educators understand the changing needs of the student community. They are quick at responses and offering customized learning modules.
From offering an improved view to the student information (grades, attendance, issues, concerns), Student Information Systems (SIS) stands accessible by stakeholders like students, parents, and teachers. Apart from enhanced information sharing it helps in timely access by connecting proper communication channels.
Experts’ Take on Education’s Technology Transformation
In conversation with Brian Smith from the New York Times, “Nolan Sullivan, a social studies teacher at La Salle Academy, a Catholic high school for boys in Manhattan, uses Kahoot with his ninth graders. He says he often has them write their own questions based on what they have learned in class”.
Such software like Kahoot do not let students wait for a follow-up or feedback on their performance. It is real time, it is then and there that they understand the impact of their actions immediately.
James Paul Jee, a Professor in Literacy Studies at Arizona State University, is also a faculty affiliate with Games, Learning, and Society group with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his conversation with Edutopia (A George Lucas Education Foundation), he mentions that people take a
lot of interest in video games and simulating environments that help them stay agile and be a part of the world where they act as problem solvers. And, the reaction to their every action is spontaneous, with no need for feedback later on. They are actually being assessed then and there. As a consequence, you are always updated on the learning curve that you are treading on. If you fail a step, the game / simulation will highlight that point blank and you need to walk that path again. He further suggests that this gaming environment helps students understand practically and invariably use the knowledge that they have. So it’s not like they are just memorizing something that they do not understand where to use. They actually understand, how and where to produce that knowledge in the hour of need. And, they can hence produce the same collaboratively.
With players like Coursera offering a plethora of online degrees and certificates like Master of Computer Science, or specializations in Machine Learning in all major languages, education is in our reach and accessible beyond geographical boundaries.
Such an enormous reach that brings along the ability to analyse what the audience actually seeks in return, helps AI driven companies around the world offer courses to suit ‘you’ and ‘me’. It’s now easier for them to design and offer skill-based courses to enable the interested set of students to learn from wherever. Such an independent approach to education seems so liberating.
Technology at Fingertips
We have technology programs like:
- Dreambox and ST Math help students across the world develop their mathematical skills through adaptive learning.
- Gadgets like Chromebook by Google are not being used within classrooms by educators and students alike. Such cheap and in-reach gadgets offer ease of access, quick interchangeability, and the ability to download a plethora of relevant applications.
- Similarly, Newsela and Achieve 300 help students with ways to enhance their skills in reading and learning.
With several opportunities constantly evolving with newer products that are launched every day, technology has made a foray into our lives for good. Yet, it seems a challenge on how to maintain the perfect balance between overuse and other health impacts that come along with.
It’s on educators and students of today, to strike the perfect balance between the good and the evil of technology.