Technology has revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives. Many under the age of thirty have spent their whole lives adapting to and incorporating technology. The world of education is no exception to this fact. Technology in this day and age is significantly transforming how we learn. This article explores the impact of technology on education, how education has had to adapt to these changes, and what this entails for the future of education.
Online learning has continued to become more popular as technology developed and grew in popularity. Initially, online learning took root in areas where students, parents, and teachers have little to no access to education. Small-town, rural, and even some immensely urban schools that are unable to offer a variety of classes or have any access to in-person learning, have taken advantage of technology for education. Also, some high schools will allow for students to take Advanced Placement classes and tests virtually because they do not have the resources to offer these options in person. There are many more ways that Gen Z and Millennials are taking advantage of technology to fill in gaps in their education.
As technology grows, so has the concept of personalized learning and adaptive learning systems. Technology makes it possible for educators to allow students to adapt their way of learning so that students can thrive individually. Technology will enable students to receive support to foster the creation of knowledge, learning, and often real-world application. Similarly, adaptive learning technologies are beginning to be implemented in everyday life all across the United States. Adaptive learning typically refers to software or online platforms that allow for students to adjust how they are learning to fit individual needs.
As technology overtakes education, students frequently spend more time staring at a screen than at a teacher. While this sounds bad, research has proven that this type of learning is creating a more student-centered learning and teaching style. With technology, students have more access to tools and a variety of material that can make it easier to learn the same information in different ways. Because of this, it seems that the ideal teaching style requires teachers to become a mentor rather than the person or thing physically teaching students. Teachers visit or check in on students as they work on their technology, guiding them in their learnings while also letting them have a say in how they go about it.
After the peak of COVID-19, most, if not all, schools had to learn how to implement online learning systems. While we are no longer in March 2020, many schools have had these systems continue to a certain extent into the present day. In many universities, courses are recorded and put online, so students have the ability to keep up with material even if a situation were to arise where they could not physically be in class. Some individuals are claiming that this new way of learning is negatively impacting how students perform on exams and tests. However, Kortemeyer et al. dove into this hypothesis and found that students’ attendance choices are not negatively impacting students’ learning, interest or perception of education. If anything, this new-found freedom in how and when students learn has made them more engaged.
Today, technology is one of many issues facing students. Instead –according to students– it is curriculum issues. Most students have found that there is a gap between reality and the material they are learning. Overall, today’s curriculum does not match future needs. At the same time, there is an overload of information. Students are sometimes expected to learn over five hundred years of history for an American History class or even more for a European History class. So much so that they often do not get past the First World War when learning more recent information. There is also little flexibility or autonomy because many students are still being pushed towards some form of examination, whether that be AP, IB, or just state testing.
Technology offers the potential to bridge the education gap and increase accessibility. However, for this to work, educators must keep pace with technological advancements. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) found that teachers require support to keep up with technology. Maja Kovačević, UNICEF education officer, states that we are nearing a world of digital pedagogy “which relies entirely on live and direct classroom work, accompanied by the use of the internet and digital technologies in a creative and meaningful way, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of teaching and learning.” There is no point in ignoring or prohibiting possible resources to improve education for everyone.
While there is no way to predict the future for sure, technology will play a prominent role in shaping the future of work and lifelong learning. The U.S. Department of Education suggests that “educators, policymakers, administrators, and teacher preparation and professional development programs now should embed these tools and resources into their practices.” Technology has the potential to augment knowledge that students are gaining through learning. Skills and competencies can improve at a faster rate with the use of technology as well. There are ways to integrate technology into education and everyday life in a way that seamlessly elevates a student’s learning experience above the static traditional methods and assessments.
Although the presence of technology does not guarantee equality and accessibility in the classroom or education, it has the power to lower barriers in a new way.
As technology continues to develop at a quick pace, educators, and institutions must embrace these changes and adapt accordingly. By leveraging technology, we can remake education and provide a more inviting, personalized, and accessible learning experience. However, no solution is perfect, and it is essential to ensure that as the world of education changes, we do not let historically underprivileged and sometimes forgotten students get left behind.
Edited by: Liz Coffman
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